County Commission Urges U.S. SenateTo Preserve Methane Leak Rule


County Commission Urges U.S. SenateTo Preserve Methane Leak Rule

Staff Report

A letter dated Feb. 7, 2017, was sent to the United States Senate from the Rio Arriba Board of Commissioners regarding proposed changes to the BLM Methane And Waste Prevention Rule, which was drafted in partial response to the gigantic methane plume over northern New Mexico generated by leaking natural gas wells.

The letter was signed by County Commissioner Danny Garcia who represents the western region of Rio Arriba county, the area largely affected by the natural gas industry. 

Below is the text of the letter. You may also CLICK HERE for a PDF copy of the original letter.

An Open Letter to the United States Senate
c/o Senator Tom Udall

Dear Members Of The United States Senate:

We are deeply troubled by the US House of Representatives recent resolution to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the BLM Methane And Waste Prevention Rule. This new rule was developed over the span of several years and included eight well-attended public meetings across the country. Over 300,000 public comments were submitted to BLM. It was a very transparent and deliberate process based upon science and economics. In a 2017 Colorado College-Conservation in the West poll, over eighty percent (80%) of those surveyed in seven energy-producing western states said that they supported continuing the methane rule on public lands.

Rio Arriba County is one of the top oil & gas producing counties in New Mexico and the industry plays a vital role in our economy. In 2015 oil and gas production in our county yielded enough to supply the total energy needs for over 3.2 million average American households. At the same time we live under the largest methane plume, estimated at over 2,500 square miles, in the country. It is a disgraceful “hot spot” that represents millions of tax dollars that we so badly paid here in Rio Arriba County. A widely accepted 2013 study estimated that waste to the gas through venting, flaring and leaking from oil and gas sides on Federal and Tribal lands in New Mexico is valued at over $100 million of lost Revenue annually. This is why, in December 2015, Rio Arriba County passed the attached resolution entitled “Recognizing The Need For Federal Rule Changes To Reduce Methane Waste In Oil And Gas Production”

Our oil and gas resources are finite and therefore must be produced in the most efficient manner available. The primary reason that BLM allows companies to drill on public lands is to generate tax revenues. The BLM Methane and Waste Prevention Rule ensures that the public receives fair compensation for the production of its natural resources.

It is our opinion that voting to repeal the rule is tantamount to turning a blind eye to stealing from the US Treasury. To repeal is to accept 1980’s standards and practices in an industry where the 21st century affordable and common sense Technologies are readily available and will create good, local jobs. Or to put it in a way that resonates with through New Mexicans, you don’t kill an animal unless you intend to use the whole carcass.

On behalf of the Commissioners and our citizens, I urge you to support Senator Udall and the overwhelming will of the American people by voting to uphold the BLM Methane and Waste Prevention Rule.

Thank you for your time and consideration of our position,

Rio Arriba Board of County Commissioners
Danny J. Garcia
Commissioner, District III