By Scott Wyland, Santa Fe New Mexican
July 7, 2021
The agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry is issuing citations and plugging abandoned wells at a faster rate since regaining enforcement power in 2020.
The Oil Conservation Division reported filing 23 complaints against operators — imposing $263,000 in penalties — while plugging 49 orphaned wells, the most in one year since at least 2016. The fines are the first the agency has meted out in more than a decade.
The agency credits the increased oversight with state lawmakers restoring its authority to issue administrative penalties, a power the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2009 ruled the agency did not have under the Oil and Gas Act’s previous language.