Environment Secretary Kenney Visits White House. Discusses New Mexico’s nationally leading efforts to curb emissions

Panel highlights New Mexico’s leadership in reducing methane emissions

July 27, 2023

Press Release From The New Mexico Environment Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney joined Biden-Harris administration officials on Wednesday in the first-ever White House Methane Summit. Officials also announced at the event the creation of a White House Methane Task Force and highlighted the urgent need to dramatically reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector to protect public health, create good-paying jobs, save consumers money, and advance President Biden’s ambitious climate agenda.

Secretary Kenney participated in the panel discussion, “Building a Diverse Coalition for Rapid
Response,” moderated by U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary David Turk to discuss strategies for rapid response to emission events. Secretary Kenney was joined on the panel by Aclima CEO and co- founder Davida Herzl, Harvard Law Environmental and Energy Law Program Executive Director Carrie Jenks, and DOE Director of Indian Energy Wahleah Johns.

Secretary Kenney emphasized the importance of New Mexico’s collaborative efforts alongside stakeholders in establishing nationally leading oil and gas rules that reduce methane and smog (known as ozone).

“The Biden administration is turbocharging our efforts to cut wasteful and harmful methane leaks by harnessing innovative technologies and enlisting skilled workers in this urgent task. President Biden is marshaling an all of government approach to meet the moment — tackling this super-pollutant which is responsible for so much of the warming that, every day, drives extreme weather related destruction in communities all across America,” said White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. “New Mexico is a critical partner for us in this effort, and is a national leader on tackling methane pollution. New Mexico is proof that strong climate action and good economic policy go hand-in-hand.”

In his remarks, Secretary Kenney explained various aspects of New Mexico’s rules and placed emphasis on industry and states using real-time and remote monitoring technologies to assure compliance. In 2022, New Mexico adopted nationally leading oil and gas regulations requiring 98% of gas capture,limiting flaring for emergency purposes only, allowing companies and third parties to deploy innovative leak detection and repair programs, and adding credible evidence provisions in state rules which allow staff to act on citizen complaints.

Secretary Kenney placed a strong emphasis on the need for robust enforcement to ensure states and the U.S. meet their ambitious climate goals.

“New Mexico is leading the way in decarbonizing every sector of our thriving economy – from oil and gas to power generation to transportation,” said Environment Cabinet Secretary Kenney. “Our partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration continues to support our efforts to hold oil and gas polluters accountable and protect frontline communities.”

Addressing methane emissions creates opportunities for clean energy jobs. An analysis from the Blue Green Alliance found that full adoption of the Biden-Harris Administration’s proposed leak-reducing actions will create 10,000 net direct and indirect jobs each year, in sectors like manufacturing, construction, and operations and maintenance. To meet this workforce demand, states and the federal government need to invest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educational programs while making certificates and degrees more affordable.

Immediately following the panels, they White House hosted an innovation showcase focusing on methane detection technology demonstrations.

Methane leaks amount to billions of dollars’ of wasted natural gas every year. In the United States, 30 percent of methane emissions come from the oil and gas sector, which increasingly has tools to slash leaks. When the oil and gas sector release methane, other pollutants are also emitted that cause smog. Smog can cause breathing issues, asthma attacks and other respiratory or cardiovascular ailments.