Stephanie Garcia Richard, Commissioner of Public Lands
State of New Mexico
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2021
Angie Poss, Assistant Commissioner of Communications
Center for Applied Research: New Mexicans Could Get Stuck With Over $8 Billion Bill for Oil and Gas Clean Up
SANTA FE, NM – The Center for Applied Research today released the results of an independent study aimed at pinpointing the existing gap in financial bonding in New Mexico’s oil and gas industry.
New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard released the following statement on the results of the study:
“This is the very first study that fully assesses the inadequacies of New Mexico’s oil and gas bonding requirements, and while I’m proud to have sparked the development of the study, the results are staggering. Today we know that New Mexico’s oil and gas industry is inadequately bonded to the tune of $8.1 billion. That’s $8.1 billion that we don’t have, but will be needed to fill the gaps where existing financial assurances won’t cover the cost to fully clean up and remediate over 60,000 wells, 35,000 miles of pipeline, and other miscellaneous infrastructure.
“In addition to financial ramifications, we have a responsibility to steward the land. When companies are done with their leases, we require that they plug wells so that methane and other gases don’t leak into the air that we breathe. We require removal and cleanup of old infrastructure and remediation of spills and contamination. And finally, we ask that companies reseed the land to restore it to its original state. No one can afford these obligations if they have gone bankrupt. That is why we need companies to be adequately bonded on the front end.
“These findings require our full attention, participation, and action as a state. Enormous sums of taxpayer money and money meant for public schools, along with the long-term health of our lands, are on the line. I am committed to ensuring we get to a place where responsible parties are adequately bonded, but how we do that depends on all of us.
“In order to get the full picture of how our decisions will impact the public, our working families, and small businesses in our state, the State Land Office plans to hold a series of public meetings, not only in impacted communities, but across the state. We hope you will join us. Read the full report and follow along with our public engagement process at https://www.nmstatelands.org/bonding.”
Under the leadership of Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard, the New Mexico State Land Office has seen back-to-back years of revenue over $1 billion. Over 13 million acres of state trust land are leased for a variety of uses, including ranching and farming, renewable energy, business development, mineral development, and outdoor recreation. The money earned from leasing activity supports 22 beneficiaries – New Mexico public schools, seven universities and colleges, the School for the Deaf, the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, water and land conservation projects, and public building construction and repair.