New Mexico might ban frac’ing, study its harms. Industry loses it.

‘Fracking ban’ bill passes New Mexico Senate committee, slammed by oil and gas industry by Adrian Hedden, Feb 16, 2021, Carlsbad Current-Argus

A New Mexico Senate bill that would place a four-year moratorium on new permits for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, passed its first committee Feb. 13 and is now closer to becoming law.

Senate Bill 149 passed the Senate Conservation Committee on a 5-4 vote and was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for the further discussion and a second vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, the bill was intended to halt new fracking operations to allow environmental officials and lawmakers to study its environmental impact.

She introduced similar legislation that died in committee during the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions. 

… If passed, SB 149 would also create additional annual reporting requirements for the use of fracking and its effects from multiple state departments including the Energy, Minerals and Natura Resources Department – New Mexico’s main oil and gas regulator – the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and New Mexico Environment Department.

The bill would also require reporting on fracking’s effects from the departments of health, transportation, Indian affairs, workforce solution and Office of the State Engineer.

Such requirements and the halt on new fracking permits until June 1, 2025, were championed by environmental groups but derided by the oil and gas industry as disruptive to an industry that provides about a third of New Mexico’s budget.

Artemisio Romero y Carver of Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA) said the bill would add regulations needed to protect the environment.

“Fracking is an equally dangerous and unregulated process,” he said. “We must pass SB149 and pause the increasing danger of fracking to our citizens, our planet, and to future generations.”

Gail Evans at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center said New Mexico’s reliance on fossil fuel development means it must be closely regulated to protect the environment and public health.

The bill, Evans said, would move New Mexico toward adequate regulations on the oil and gas industry.

“Being a state that produces an enormous amount of oil and gas comes with an enormous responsibility to ensure that that production is done in a way that does not harm our environment, public health and freshwater resources,” she said.

“Currently, we do not have the regulatory scheme, personnel or data to ensure that the oil and gas industry is operating safely for New Mexicans.” …

Opposition was also heard from oil and gas trade organizations and lobbyists for major operators such as Chevron and Occidental Petroleum.

Aimee Barabe, director of government affairs at the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said fracking had been conducted safely in New Mexico for 50 years with no incident of groundwater contamination and that the industry is already one of the most regulated in the state. “Fracking and all the oil and gas activities are the most regulated industry with strict requirements and enforcement at the federal, state and local levels,” she said. “Because of this technology the United State has achieved its energy independence.” …

The Big Lie never changes. What a bore the mega-money-losing frac industry and its lobby groups are.

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