The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill became the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. Three years later British Petroleum was ordered to pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties. A company did wrong and the laws in place held them accountable for their actions.

    While this is an extreme example, it can help explain the opportunity New Mexico has to hold bad actors accountable. In New Mexico when there is an oil and gas spill our regulators cannot fine the company responsible. As our oil and gas production booms, it’s critical for our state agencies to be able to ensure that companies operate within compliance.

    Despite an increase in oil and gas spills, companies paid no penalties in six of the last 10 years. That’s because since 2009 the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division has not had the authority to fine companies responsible for spills. Thankfully, a bill is making its way through our legislature that could fix this problem. Senate Bill 186 would restore the Division’s ability to keep industry in compliance - protecting our air, water, health and communities.

    Climate Advocates/ Voces Unidas’s Unearthed video series documents the impacts of oil and gas production on our public lands, communities and cultural sites. In part five, the president of a gas processing company even said it: good regulations hold bad actors accountable and raise the standards for everyone.

    That’s what we need to do now. Support SB 186.

    Jordan Smith

    Santa Fe

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