Four Corners resident on May 10, 2017 vote preserving BLM gas reclamation rule

May 19, 2017

KGLP Station Manager Rachel Kaub speaks with Gloria Lehmer, of Farmington, NM, about the May 10, 2017 vote by the U.S. congress preserving the BLM rule requiring fossil fuel developers to reclaim waster gas products from their mining operations.

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to undo federal rules finalized in the last few months of a President’s term with little to no debate and simple majority votes. Unfortunately, most of the rules being targeted provide environmental, public health, and related financial protections.  The rule applies to drilling for oil and gas on federal and tribal lands. There are leaks along the entire production process, an estimated 40 billion cubic feet escaping each year from the roughly 100,000 wells on federal lands.

Gloria lives in the middle of New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, an old and large drilling field with approximately 30,000 wells. Scientists recently discovered that a cloud of methane, sometimes referred to as the methane hot spot, is sitting over the Four Corners region, and over Gloria’s home. The hot spot is linked to oil and gas development and researchers recently found that just 10 percent of oil and gas sites they examined in the area are contributing half of the hot spot’s emissions. Gloria is very involved in the local community, and spent 25 years as a speech pathologist in the local hospital and schools.

--- May 10, 2017 press release by U.S. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico ---

Udall: Senate Rejects Repeal of Commonsense Natural Gas Waste Prevention Rule
Vote is victory for taxpayers, school children and the environment
WASHINGTON — May 10, 2017 - U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement after the Senate voted 49-51, defeating a measure to repeal the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) natural gas waste prevention rule through the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Udall helped lead the fight against the repeal.
"This is a victory for taxpayers and school children in New Mexico — because we were able to fend off this dangerous repeal, New Mexico will continue to benefit from the BLM's commonsense steps to prevent the waste of taxpayer-owned natural gas, create jobs and shrink the methane hotspot hanging over the Four Corners region. This also is a victory for the fierce opponents of our out-of-control campaign finance system, which has allowed powerful industries like big oil and gas to wield enormous political power to pad its bottom line at the expense of Americans' health and our climate. I want to thank all of the advocates in New Mexico and across the country who fought this repeal for many months.

"We are definitively better off with this rule in place, which enables producers to use simple inexpensive solutions to prevent waste and save resources. Until the BLM's rule was implemented late last year, $100 million in taxpayer-owned natural gas was lost each year from oil and gas wells operating on federal public lands in New Mexico. That is money that our cash-strapped state desperately needs to help balance the budget, pay for text books and other educational materials for our students. By leaving this rule in place, we have a chance at recouping lost revenue to help balance the budget, create jobs and reduce the dangerous levels of greenhouse gases and associated pollution being released into the air from leaking equipment and through venting and flaring. 

“New Mexico is home to significant oil and gas production, which is a source of good jobs and critical revenue for our state government and school system. But the industry arguments against this rule did not hold water -- since the rule came into effect in November 2016, the industry has added approximately 2,700 jobs nationwide and the number of drilling rigs in operation has increased over 50 percent. The economic health of this highly profitable industry is driven primarily by the price of oil and gas -- we certainly can afford reasonable, commonsense regulations to prevent waste and pollution.
"Make no mistake, the Trump administration will keep trying through other means to reverse these protections. But I will keep up the fight for New Mexico taxpayers, jobs and clean air and water." 



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