With production surging in the Permian Basin, New Mexico's environmental and natural resource agencies have begun a process to gather stakeholder input to develop rules to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

As promised during her campaign last year, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in an executive order issued earlier this year had called for developing an "enforceable regulatory framework" to reduce methane emissions. The New Mexico Department of Environment (NMED) and Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources (EMNRD) are overseeing the process.

The governor’s goal is to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 45% by 2030. The state agencies are to develop policies to encourage renewable energy deployment, curb climate pollution and cut energy that is allegedly wasted in the energy industry through the intentional and unintentional release of methane.

NMED Secretary James Kenney said the stakeholder process would be a collaborative effort among regulators, communities, industry and environmental organizations. "It is imperative in enacting lasting changes to methane regulations in New Mexico," said Kenney. EMNRD Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said the process would be "a crucial step."

Two separate regulatory processes are to be completed by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission on methane as a waste resource, and by the Environmental Improvement Board tied to methane and volatile organic compounds air quality impacts.

Public hearings are now set for July 29 in Farmington, July 30 in Albuquerque and Aug. 7 in Carlsbad. Summaries of the meetings are to be posted online by the two state agencies.