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WildEarth Guardians to sue EPA to take over New Mexico oil and gas air permits
“New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Environment Department is turning its back on its duty to protect people and communities from the oil and gas industry’s harmful air pollution,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians. “We need the EPA to step in immediately and ensure that air pollution permits for the oil and gas industry are complying with the Clean Air Act.”
In November 2022, the EPA objected to the New Mexico Environment Department’s approval of air pollution permits for two large oil and gas processing facilities in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico. The permits contained loopholes allowing companies to vent harmful emissions with no monitoring to ensure compliance. The EPA ordered the Environment Department to fix the permits to comply with the Clean Air Act.
Under the Clean Air Act, the Environment Department had 90 days to fix the permits. More than 100 days have now passed and the Department has not taken steps to revise the permits. Where states fail to revise permits within 90 days after an objection, the EPA is required to immediately take over administration of the permit.
In a formal letter to the EPA, WildEarth Guardians notified the agency this week of its intent to sue the agency for not yet taking over New Mexico’s permits. Under the Clean Air Act’s citizen suit provision, Guardians can file suit against the agency over its delay after 60 days of providing notice.
This week’s notice comes as WildEarth Guardians also called on the New Mexico Environment Department to halt the approval of new air pollution permits for the oil and gas industry that contain illegal loopholes for venting.
“The oil and gas industry is getting a free pass to pollute in New Mexico and we aim to stop that,” said Nichols. “We simply won’t tolerate the refusal of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Environment Department to comply with the Clean Air Act.”