In 2021, the governor petitioned the U.S. EPA to list toxic PFAS as “hazardous” under hazardous waste law – the same one the oil and gas industry is exempt from at both federal and state levels.
Now, thanks to a new report from Physicians for Social Responsibility, Fracking with “Forever Chemicals” in New Mexico, we know that the oil and gas industry has used PFAS chemicals in hundreds, perhaps thousands of wells across the state. Considering just one tablespoon could contaminate a water body twice the size of New Mexico’s largest lake (or 1.75 trillion gallons of water), it’s critical that these chemicals be closely monitored and managed from cradle to grave.
“Gov. Lujan Grisham has led the charge to designate PFAS as hazardous under federal waste law,” says Melissa Troutman of WildEarth Guardians. “Unfortunately, one industry that uses PFAS in New Mexico is exempt from both federal and state hazardous waste rules – the oil and gas industry – which gets a free pass in New Mexico to treat its waste as ‘non-hazardous’ despite the presence of hazardous chemicals. We hope the governor and state officials will choose to update state law to make sure our land, water, communities, and wildlife are protected from hazardous chemicals in the oil and gas industry, including PFAS.”
The Climate and Energy Team at WildEarth Guardians is determined to reform New Mexico’s oil and gas laws to require companies to publicly disclose all chemicals they use, prohibit “trade secrets,” remove the exemption for hazardous oil and gas waste, ban PFAS, and create setbacks to protect frontline communities from exposures to toxic chemicals used by the oil and gas industry.