As a retired city manager I know that New Mexico’s municipalities can always use more revenue for important needs. A big source of that funding is the taxes and royalties assessed on oil and gas development. Then why is the Trump administration pushing a proposal that will – by its own assessment – mean more waste and less revenue for New Mexico?
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was in North Dakota recently addressing the North Dakota Republican Convention.
Conspicuously, during his 14-minute speech, he avoided mentioning his day job as land manager of America’s vast and spectacular national public lands, including the energy development that happens on those lands. He also didn’t mention his work to repeal guidelines that ought to be saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by preventing the waste of the public’s natural gas resources and supporting good-paying jobs in the methane mitigation industry.
Here in Colorado, we value our public lands, open spaces, recreational opportunities, and the conservation of our natural resources. So why then are energy companies setting fire to our precious public resources and revenues?
As President Barack Obama wrapped up his second term in office, the federal government put in place a common-sense rule requiring oil and gas companies developing on public lands to capture methane emissions and fix leaks in their wells and pipelines to prevent the loss of this potent gas. The rule served two important purposes: prevent the needless waste of American energy and ensure a fair return on royalties when publicly-owned resources are developed. And perhaps more importantly, the rule would help cut pollution and protect the air we all breathe.
While natural gas burns cleaner than coal, it also poses environmental risks because it consists primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas responsible for a quarter of global warming.
Some of the risk can be mitigated with better controls on leaks of methane into the atmosphere from wells and storage tanks, and the Kasich administration is a recognized leader in ensuring that happens — at least for newer facilities.
American Lung Association’s annual national air quality “report card” State of the Air 2018 uses the most recent air pollution data, compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for the two most widespread types of pollution—ozone (smog) and particle pollution (PM2.5, also known as soot). The report grades counties and ranks cities and counties based on their scores for ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution levels. Since 2000, the American Lung Association has analyzed data from official air quality monitors to compile the “State of the Air” report.
I know southern New Mexico needs all the funding we can get right now to provide for our families and communities. That is why I am so opposed to a proposal from U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that would mean millions of dollars in wasted New Mexico natural resources and less funding for urgent needs like roads and schools.
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