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Fifth New Mexico County Votes to Support BLM Methane Rule

Bernalillo County passed a resolution supporting a proposed federal rule to limit waste of methane gas. (Environmental Defense Fund)
Bernalillo County passed a resolution supporting a proposed federal rule to limit waste of methane gas. (Environmental Defense Fund)
October 27, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Bernalillo County has become the fifth New Mexico county to support a proposed rule from the Bureau of Land Management that would limit the flaring, venting or leaking of excess methane from oil and gas facilities.

The Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners voted 3-1 on Tuesday to endorse the new methane mitigation rule. Rock Ulibarri with the outdoor advocacy group HECHO said a similar measure in Colorado saved a great deal of gas, which generated royalties for taxpayers. And the required installation of methane capture equipment created jobs.

"We have no faith that the current administration in the state of New Mexico is going to follow Colorado's lead,” Ulibarri said. "So that's why we're asking for the BLM to impose this rule on BLM land."

One recent study showed that New Mexico wasted $100 million worth of methane in 2013 alone. And recent NASA maps show a large methane cloud hanging over the Four Corners region and another over the Artesia area.

Ulibarri said he hopes the Department of the Interior will finalize the rule before the next administration takes over.

"They're certainly getting a lot of opposition from the industry,” he said. "So the more support we can show with local government, the more likely it is to get signed."

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and is linked to respiratory ailments such as asthma in nearby communities. The city of Santa Fe also has voted to support the BLM rule, as have the counties of San Miguel, Rio Arriba, Moya and Santa Fe.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NM