The New Mexico Environment Department issued a notice of violation to oil and gas giant Hilcorp Energy Company earlier this month, claiming the corporation violated the state's Air Quality Control Act last year.
According to a NMED press release, Hilcorp violated both state and federal laws by “improperly controlling emissions from one of its wells in the San Juan Basin.” The company is accused of failing to capture natural gas that was released during hydraulic fracturing operations in February 2018.
According to the Farmington Daily Times, oil industry groups have denounced the move as politically motivated. Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico Executive Director Jim Winchester issued a statement claiming NMED isn't being completely honest. “As the NMED is aware,” he said, “the pressure and geology of San Juan wells require the use of nitrogen in the completion process … The existing regulations allow for these completion technologies to be used. The NMED's interpretation of the existing rules will significantly impact all development projects in the San Juan Basin.” The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association says wells in the area are “marginal” and were never intended to fall under the authority of air quality regulations.
NMED said it's investigating the matter and a notice of violation is not a final determination that a violation has occurred.
Balloon Fiesta Spur Line Questioned
Plans for a Rail Runner spur line have upset some North Edith area residents.
In February, Mayor Tim Keller told reporters the city was looking at ways to ease traffic congestion during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta—including a Rail Runner spur line that would operate temporarily during the event.
But KRQE reports that residents in the area of the proposed spur line are resentful of the city for making plans without consulting them. The city allegedly failed to discuss the project with any of the neighborhood associations before Keller made the announcement.
Neighbors are also worried that a spur line will be too expensive and unnecessary. Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael told reporters that the city expects the project to cost between $8 million and $11 million, a price some residents say is too high for a line that will only operate for about 10 days a year. A petition against the project has reportedly been created and at least four neighborhood associations have spoken against the plan.
Rael said the proposed spur line is only one of several options the city is investigating and no plans have been made for immediate action.
Lawmaker on Abortion: Women Choose to be Pregnant
While discussing the recent legislative session at a public forum, a Democratic legislator from Silver City said women who want abortions shouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place.
During a Silver City forum held at Western New Mexico University last week, two Democratic lawmakers—Sen. Gabriel Ramos and Rep. Rudy Martinez—held a panel discussing the events of the 60-day legislative session that just concluded. When House Bill 51—which would have decriminalized abortion in New Mexico—came up, Ramos told the audience he'd voted against the bill. He went on to say, “I think the choice is made by the woman. If they want to go ahead and not become pregnant … let's take care of the problem before it happens.”
His comments were met with both applause and anger.