New Mexico's Oil and Gas Boom in the Permian Basin Undermines the State's Climate Target

Oil Change International's latest report: "Drilling Toward Disaster: New Mexico's Oil and Gas Boom Undermines the State's Climate Goals" [released 2:00PM Feb 12, 2020) provides damning evidence that New Mexico's emissions are moving in the opposite direction of the Lujan-Grisham Administration's stated climate goals and are TEN TIMES what the Administration estimates.

Read our FULL February 12, 2020 Press Release Here.

The world faces a climate emergency and the revenue from New Mexico's oil and gas extraction is borrowed from future generations.

In 2019, Oil Change International (OCI) released an extremely important report called "Drilling Towards Disaster" about the emissions impacts of the US fracking boom. Now, OCI has produced this report, with a specific focus on New Mexico's contribution to the high level of emissions coming from the Permian Basin and the ticking carbon bomb we have a responsibility to address.

This analysis draws a comparison between Governor Lujan Gisham's Climate Plan and  reality. Undeveloped oil and gas emissions are ten times Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s target for 2030.

The new report that shows how the projected increases in New Mexico’s oil and gas production is entirely out of sync with the action necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. New Mexico cannot meet its climate change goal of 45% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels in 2030 by continuing oil and gas production at current and projected levels.


In 2030, 86% of projected emissions — 478 MMT — will come from burning currently undeveloped oil and gas. This is equivalent to the annual emissions from 123 coal plants.

Since 2010, New Mexico’s oil and gas production has grown 125%, to just under 2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in 2019. Oil and gas production is expected to grow an additional 85% by 2030, reaching 3.5 million boe/d. From now to 2030, over 70% of New Mexico’s oil and gas production will come from wells that have not yet been drilled, or ‘undeveloped’ oil and gas.


We are in the middle of a global climate crisis and oil and gas production in New Mexico is in the midst of an unprecedented boom. At no time in the 100-year history of the state’s oil and gas industry has production grown so much and so quickly.

“The data show that the climate emissions from burning New Mexico's oil and gas far outweigh anything that can be achieved by the current climate action plan. New Mexico must take responsibility for the surging oil and gas production within its borders; doing so will not only put New Mexico in a climate leadership position, but also help protect the state's economy from this risky oil boom. This is a conversation that can no longer be ignored.”

Lorne Stockman,
Senior Research Analyst
Oil Change International


Published by Oil Change International and endorsed by EarthCare, New Energy Economy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Wild Earth Guardians, and Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, the report shows how the projected increase in New Mexico’s oil and gas production is entirely out of sync with the action necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.

We find that New Mexico cannot meet its commitment to global climate goals if it allows a massive expansion in oil and gas production, exporting new emissions outside of the state.

Read the Report HERE.


The Center for Western Priorities analyzed spill/incident reports that were filed with the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division with spill dates listed between January 1 and December 31, 2018. Data was obtained from NMOCD’s online database.

Center for Western Priorities TRACKS New MExico's TOP spillers in your county


Click here for CWP's New Mexico Oil & Gas Toxic Release Tracker

According to publicly available data from the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, there were 1,523 reported spills in New Mexico in 2018. The number of spills last year stayed relatively stable, from 1,522 spills in 2017.

Each day, an average of 44 barrels of crude oil were spilled, along with 252 barrels of “produced water,” salty wastewater often laden with toxic chemicals.

The vast majority of spills, 84 percent, took place in Lea and Eddy Counties.

COG Operating LLC reported 237 spills, the most of any company, followed by Devon Energy Production Company and XTO Energy Inc. Combined, the top five companies were responsible for over 41 percent of all reported releases.

Leaks from natural gas, primarily comprised of methane, remained significant. Emissions from the 198 reported releases totaled 247,274 Mcf, enough to power roughly 1,600 homes for a year.

Equipment failure caused the greatest number of spills, responsible for over twice as many spills as other causes which include corrosion, overflow, human error, lighting, fire, normal operations, blow out, vandalism, freezes, and vehicular accidents.

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