NM lawmakers want more accountability on oil and gas industry
January 23, 2019 06:24 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Revenue from the New Mexico oil and gas industry has led to a projected $1.1 billion surplus in the state’s budget.
But now some lawmakers want to crack down on oil and gas companies.
The agency responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry has no authority to fine companies that violate the Oil and Gas Act.
Democratic Senator Richard Martinez is sponsoring Senate Bill 186.
It would give the state’s Oil Conservation Division the authority to issue civil penalties to companies that break the rules.
“Oil and gas is an important industry throughout New Mexico but equally important is ensuring our state has the tools it needs to protect the health of our communities and our precious water resources,” Senator Martinez said.
Nathalie Eddy, and advocate with the environmental watchdog organization Earthworks, said oil spills have been on the rise since the state Supreme Court removed the oil conservation division’s power to impose penalties.
“Once the Supreme Court decision, there have been over 10,000 violations and maybe a dozen penalties actually assessed – only amounting to $67,000 dollars which is really not enough to provide an incentive or accountability to the bad actors,” Eddy said.
If the bill passes, it would also raise the penalty from a maximum of 1-thousand dollars a day to a maximum of 15-thousand dollars a day.
Updated: January 23, 2019 06:24 PM
Created: January 23, 2019 05:11 PM
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