Sen. Bennet’s Bills Will Hold Oil and Gas Companies Accountable for Clean Up Costs and Will Boost Public Participation in Land Management Decisions

MEDIA STATEMENT
June 22, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, New Mexico Voices for Children; skayne@nmvoices.org

(NEW MEXICO) — Today, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced crucial legislation to fix the pressing issue of orphaned oil and gas wells – a problem that is getting worse in New Mexico. The Oil and Gas Bonding Reform and Orphaned Well Remediation Act would strengthen bonding requirements and provide states and BLM with funding to reclaim orphaned wells – ensuring this crisis is fixed in the short term while reforming the federal bonding system so our communities do not face a similar crisis in the future. Senator Bennet’s Public Engagement Opportunity on Public Land Exploration (PEOPLE) Act of 2021 creates new standards to ensure robust public participation in land management decisions. The PEOPLE Act would overhaul the public participation process for oil and gas leasing on federal lands because the current system prioritizes the oil and gas industry rather than the public and communities living near oil and gas leasing and drilling sites. 

In response, James Jimenez, the executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, released the following statement:

“Senator Bennet’s bill is all about fairness. Who should pay for cleaning up the hundreds of orphaned oil and gas wells that threaten the health of New Mexicans – the companies that profited from them or the public? Defunct oil and gas producers have littered New Mexico with orphaned wells while taxpayers are forced to foot the bill to clean them up. Those critical funds could be spent supporting our children and schools instead of cleaning up the mess oil and gas companies have left behind. To make matters worse, federal barriers to public participation in land management decisions have put the oil and gas executives ahead of everyone else. It’s important that we all have a say in how our lands are used and managed, because the public is loud and clear that we should not have to pay to clean up the oil industry’s orphaned wells. We are thankful that Senator Bennet has introduced two bills to fix these problems and put our children and public lands first.” 

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New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. 625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org