San Miguel County, NM supports clean air and less waste of our natural resources

HECHO Advisory Board Member, Rock Ulibarri, wrote a letter to the editor (LTE) on the recent passage of a San Miguel County resolution. His LTE appeared in the Las Vegas Optic this past weekend.

New methane rules major improvement

I applaud my colleagues on the San Miguel County Board of Commission for voting unanimously to support the Bureau of Land Management’s rules to charge royalties on wasted methane — the primary component of natural gas— on federal and tribal lands.  

Methane waste impacts state revenues, harms the environment and threatens the health of New Mexicans.  The new rules will modernize how the government accounts for methane waste on public lands, employing technologies that not only reduce that waste, but also cut toxic air pollutants such as benzene and ozone-forming volatile organic compounds and greenhouse gases.

In 2014, New Mexico’s oil and gas producers reported wasting more than 180,000 metric tons of methane — enough to heat more than 168,000 homes each year. And according to a recent NASA study, a methane cloud the size of Delaware currently sits above the Four Corners region, where much of the methane waste occurs from leaking, flaring and venting.

The impact to New Mexicans has been staggering. Over the last five years, the State of New Mexico has lost upwards of $50 million in tax revenue for education due to natural gas waste on public lands, at a time when the State is facing a $120 million education funding shortfall.

The methane also creates harmful smog, which has increased asthma attacks and aggravated lung diseases, especially devastating the state’s Latino population, which is three times more likely to die from asthma than any other racial or ethnic group. Fortunately, we are now on a better path.

Rock Ulibarri
Board member, Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting & the Outdoors, or Hecho; San Miguel County Commissioner Dist. 1, Montezuma