Susan Montoya Brown / The Seattle Times / Dec. 13, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some of the biggest names in energy production in New Mexico have signed on to a national effort within the oil and gas industry to curb methane emissions as pressure mounts for states to enact more pollution laws.
The move comes as the U.S. Interior Department announced it would delay an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from production on federal lands.
Industry officials in New Mexico say BP America, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy and others see the effort to reduce emissions as a priority and that work already underway has led to lower methane levels. Companies are using drones, for example, to monitor for leaks.
Under the partnership , companies will participate in programs that focus on addressing leaks and repairing or replacing certain pneumatic controllers at wells and other sites that are known for releasing methane.
State regulators testified recently before a panel of lawmakers that the most recent figures show a more than 50 percent decrease in emissions in New Mexico over the past year from venting and flaring during the initial stages of oil and gas production.
About 1 percent of all gas produced in the state is vented or flared, according to the figures from the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.
Environmentalists argue emissions are higher than what state and federal regulators have measured and that unintentional releases are not being accounted for. They say New Mexico is losing out on taxes and royalties that would be earned if more of the gas was captured.