Friday, January 15, 2010

Proposed Tougher Ozone Standard Worries Intermountain West Drillers

The New York Times

By SCOTT STREATER of Greenwire

Published: January 14, 2010

"More than a dozen Western counties with high levels of oil and gas drilling could face tougher requirements for ozone pollution under new proposed federal standards rolled out last week, adding another dose of regulatory uncertainty to an industry already facing tougher scrutiny over its air emissions."...

..."In New Mexico, which currently meets federal health standards for ozone statewide, two counties -- Rio Arriba and San Juan in the state's Four Corners region -- could fall into nonattainment largely because of power plant emissions, as could several others on the state's southeast side, "where there's a lot of oil and gas development," said Mary Uhl, air quality bureau chief for the New Mexico Environment Department.

While New Mexico has been more cautious than some other Intermountain states about new drilling, it remains in the top five natural gas producing states, with most of the gas coming from the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico and the Permian Basin in the south.

In 2008, Gov. Bill Richardson (D) joined Santa Fe County in imposing a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin south of Santa Fe after environmental groups complained that a proposal to drill new exploratory wells there would harm the area's environment and important archaeological and cultural resources.

Included in Richardson's executive order was that the New Mexico Environment Department consider adopting new air quality regulations to further protect ambient air quality from drilling activity in the basin.

The developer, Tecton Energy of Houston, later abandoned the proposal." More>>>>

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