What's in New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham's executive order on climate change?
Policies could mean big changes for the oil and gas industry
- New Mexico joins U.S. Climate Alliance
- State's Climate Change Task Force is established
- Other state agencies called upon to evaluate environmental impacts
Less than a month into her tenure as New Mexico’s top-ranking politico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham made sweeping changes to the State’s priorities regarding climate change and the extraction industry.
She singed her third executive order Tuesday, aiming to address pollution and align New Mexico with goals to reduce greenhouse gases and hold industry accountable for its impact on the environment.
The purpose, as described in the order was “To further New Mexico’s responsibility and opportunity to build a clean energy future for our people, limit adverse climate change impacts that harm our natural and cultural heritage, prevent the waste of New Mexico energy resources and reduce pollution that threatens human health.”
The order cited data from the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which reported Earth could have as little as 12 years to reduce the global average temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Lujan Grisham pointed to six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride and methane – a gas commonly released or burned off during oil and gas operations.
She wrote that methane traps 84 percent more heat than carbon dioxide during a 20-year timeframe, and that the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane emissions.
The order also reported that emissions, venting and flaring and leaks at New Mexico oil and gas facilities “wastes” $244 million in domestic energy resources every year.
During the recent oil and gas boom in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico, Lujan Grisham’s order said the industry saw an 18 percent increase in venting and flaring volumes in the first seven months of 2018, compared to all of 2017.
“Efforts to reduce methane emissions throughout New Mexico will have a significant climate benefit as well as prevent the waste of energy resources,” read the order.
“Science, innovation, collaboration and compliance efforts can prevent waste, methane emissions and improve air quality while creating jobs for New Mexicans.”
Here are the main directives of Lujan Grisham’s executive order.
U.S. Climate Alliance
The order entered New Mexico into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of 19 states that support the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and formed in 2017 after President Donald Trump indicated the U.S. would pull out of the agreement.
New Mexico’s objective as a member of Alliance is to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 percent by 2030 when compared to 2005 levels.
Climate Change Task Force
The order also established New Mexico’s Climate Change Task Force.
The Task Force was chaired by Cabinet Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) Sarah Cottrell Propst and Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) James Kenney.
Both agencies issue permits and provide oversight to oil and gas operations.
The Task Force was directed to hold meetings, facilitate stakeholder involvement and provide direction to achieving the goals listed in the order.
NMED and EMNRD were called on to develop statewide, “enforceable regulatory framework” to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas industry, and prevent waste from new and ongoing operations.
The two departments were also assigned to partner with the New Mexico State Land Office to manage State Trust Land and resources to help further the governor's priorities.
They were also tasked with adopting a market-based program to set emission limits to reduce pollution from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, seeking approaches to reduce emissions and adopt low-emission vehicle (LEV) and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards.
The Task Force was also asked to work with the New Mexico Legislature to draft more bills related to climate change and impacts on the environment.
By Sept. 15, the Task Force will create a New Mexico Climate Strategy document, and report to Lujan Grisham directly.
Other state agencies
All other state agencies were called on to re-evaluate their programs and operations to measure the impact on the environment and climate change, reporting to the Climate Change Task Force, and adding mitigating practices to their operations.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.