Many Worry Companies Are Flouting New Mexico’s Landmark Gas Flaring Rules

"Last year, New Mexico adopted regulations that were viewed as a model for reducing methane emissions from the flaring and venting of natural gas. But on the ground, watchdogs say they don’t see much of a change in oil and gas companies’ practices."

"CARLSBAD, New Mexico—On a recent afternoon, Kayley Shoup drove southeast out of Carlsbad through an area that was once ranchland. Today it’s a patchwork of compressor stations, tank batteries and drilling pads, testimony to the Permian Basin’s booming oil and gas industry.

Cold wind whipped through creosote bushes lining the road. Transmission lines and flare stacks dotted the horizon. In the distance, Shoup spotted the flames of a flare from gas being burned off an oil well. And then another. And another. One flare sent off dark smoke, a sign that it wasn’t burning efficiently.

Flares are designed to eliminate methane from natural gas. But unlit flares and inefficient combustion mean that flaring still emits large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The Environmental Defense Fund’s Permian MAP project found that the Permian Basin in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico was the highest methane-emitting oil and gas basin in the nation."

Martha Pskowski reports for Inside Climate News March 12, 2023.

Source: Inside Climate News, 03/13/2023