Commentary: As the sun set yesterday evening, passersby were able to make out an image projected onto the building at 300 San Mateo, at the corner of San Mateo and Central, a private building that leases office space to several state departments, including the New Mexico State Taxation and Revenue Department. The image prominently featured a ticker of the value of natural gas being wasted by industry on public and tribal lands in New Mexico, totaling more than $100 million. The projection also featured images of the well-known methane flares that New Mexican have come to correctly associate with oil and gas production. Methane, however, is invisible to the naked eye and can only be seen with infrared cameras.
“When industry wastes gas extracted on public lands they deprive New Mexico of huge amounts of royalties and put our kids health at risk,” commented Bill Jordan, Policy Director for New Mexico Voices for Children. “At a time when the state is struggling we can't afford to be losing tens of millions of dollars that could be put towards education. And even worse the methane gas emits with key components of smog, which leads to asthma and other respiratory diseases, resulting in lost days at school for children and their parents.”
This demonstration comes at a time when Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke refuses to hold public hearings on his proposal to gut the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule, which reduces natural gas wasted on public lands by requiring oil and gas companies to regularly check for and repair leaking equipment and take other common sense steps. The public comment period on this roll back ends on April 23rd and people can comment here.
“The Trump Administration is trying to roll back health-improving, royalty-increasing, job-creating, common-sense, good neighbor rules that prevent oil and gas waste and pollution,” according to Camilla Feibelman, Chapter Director of Sierra Club of the Rio Grande. “That’s why we’re projecting these images of the wasted gas and the amount our state has lost out on onto the State Tax and Revenue office building. New Mexicans need to know that industry is using their connections to get out of doing right by our state and our kids.”
The event was shared through Feibelman’s social media via Facebook Live and on Bells Visuals Twitter feed (@bellvisuals), quickly garnering several thousand views.
Sister Joan Brown, OSF, Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light was present last night when the projection went live. "What an appropriate time to project these images during the Easter Season and Passover. During this time people of faith turn from that which is harmful and focus upon caring for communities and creation by shedding light upon truth and goodness. Capturing methane pollution is good stewardship. BLM's analysis shows that repealing major provisions of the rule results in wasting enough natural gas that could heat 500,000 homes over ten years. This is enough energy for Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho, Roswell and Farmington. These rules also care for the health of children, elders and future generations
The waste ticker acts to highlight the growing problem of natural gas waste and underscore the importance of keeping the 2016 Methane Rule in place, both to reduce waste and protect taxpayers.