4 Investigates: Methane emissions in New Mexico | KOB 4
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4 Investigates: Methane emissions in New Mexico

Steve Soliz
August 28, 2019 12:19 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Methane is becoming an increasing danger to people on earth.

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Satellite imagery shows a cloud of the greenhouse gas above the Four Corners. It covers roughly 2,500 square miles. 

"It was identified as one of the most significant methane clouds that was seen from satellite imagery," said New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney.

NASA helped take the picture of the airborne methane. Now, there are questions about where the gas originated. 

"The oil and gas sector- we are a source of methane emissions and we take our obligations to address climate change and reduce methane emissions very seriously," said Ryan Flynn, executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. 

Flynn said the methane emissions across the state have dropped more than 50% since 2014. In addition, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that is meant to lessen the impact New Mexico has on the environment. 

"I'm a believer in the climate science," Kenney said. " I know that the science is real, it's been validated, and I know a majority of scientists all over the world who conclude that methane is contributing to climate change."

New Mexico's oil and gas producers agree.

"The industry is committed to taking steps to address climate change," Flynn said. "We believe in climate change."

How is methane a danger to the environment?

"For the most part, methane is going to be more of an issue in respect to climate change," Kenney said. "Therefore, as the climate warms, there's going to be health impacts for everyone.

The state's oil and gas industry doesn't want to see that negative health impact either.

"We are committed to addressing climate change and we're not just talking about it," Flynn said.

Kenney is skeptical about whether the oil and gas industry can eliminate emissions.

"I think the expectation for the oil and gas industry to not have emissions is false," Kenney said. "They're going to have emissions."

Kenney believes methane can be captured and sold to those who need it.

"Ever molecule of methane emitted is a dollar sign that could otherwise be in our economy," he said. "We do not want to see methane emitted for environmental reasons. We don't want to see methane emitted for economic reasons."

Flynn said the oil and gas industry will have to work with state leaders to find a solution that works. 

"A problem like climate change is not going to be addressed by one person or by one sector overnight," Flynn said. "It's going to require cooperation. It's going to require everyone to step up and do their part."

Click here to read the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association's approach to reducing methane emissions

Click here to read the state’s approach to combating methane emmisons 

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Steve Soliz

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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