Albuquerque, N.M. – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is suspending standards to curb leaks of methane and other harmful air pollutants from new oil and gas wells and associated facilities. This announcement followed a commitment from President Trump earlier this morning to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund Program Director Molly Sanders issued the following statement:

“It is unacceptable for the Trump administration to give the oil and gas industry a free pass to continue to endanger our climate and pollute the air that thousands of New Mexicans breathe. New Mexican communities and families that live near oil and gas facilities – 8,000 operating wells in Rio Arriba County alone – are at increased risk for asthma attacks and cancer. This action forces our families to breathe unhealthy air, puts our livelihoods at grave risk, and disproportionately impacts the low-income, rural, Latino and indigenous communities that live near oil and gas infrastructure in our state.

In the wake of these dangerous actions that are out of touch with New Mexicans, we call on our state decision-makers to act on climate change and address methane and carbon pollution.”

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Background:

Safeguards to reduce methane pollution are supported by a 74% of New Mexicans.

The oil and gas sector is the largest U.S. industrial emitter of methane, which is the second-biggest driver of climate change after carbon dioxide.

Methane leaks also release smog-forming and cancer-causing chemicals, endangering the health of people in neighboring communities.

Leak detection and repair is crucial to identify and stop methane and other pollutants from pouring out of the hundreds of valves, pumps, tanks and other equipment at oil and gas wells, as well as in the pipeline network that brings the gas to market. Finding and fixing these leaks is technically simple, cost-effective, prevents wasted gas, and creates high-paying jobs.