Mewbourne Oil Company has agreed to pay a $5.5 million penalty and undertake projects to ensure 422 of its oil and gas well pads in New Mexico and Texas comply with clean air regulations and offset past illegal emissions.
The Tyler, Texas-based oil and natural gas producer agreed to spend $4.6 million for preventative measures and to help address environmental harm caused by its violations in settlement of claims alleged in a civil complaint filed jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).
It has been alleged that Mewbourne failed to obtain required state and federal permits; failed to capture and control air emissions from storage vessels; and failed to comply with inspection, monitoring and recordkeeping requirements at more than 100 of its oil and gas production operations in New Mexico and Texas.
EPA and NMED identified the alleged violations through field investigations and repeated flyover surveillance conducted during 2019-2022. Mewbourne, if complies with the terms of the deal, will eliminate more than 11,000 tons of harmful pollutants from the air each year, according to Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said the department will continue to conduct oil and gas investigations and aggressively enforce violations.
EPA said the $5.5 million fine will be shared equally by the U.S. Federal Government and the State of New Mexico.
Mewbourne’s compliance with the consent decree is estimated to result in annual reductions of more than 9,900 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and 1,300 tons of methane. VOCs are a key component in the formation of ground-level ozone, a pollutant that irritates the lungs, exacerbates diseases such as asthma, and can increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
During the timeframes of Mewbourne’s alleged violations, air quality monitors in the relevant counties in New Mexico registered rising ozone concentrations exceeding 95 percent of the national air quality standards set for ozone.
Mewbourne is a large producer in the Permian Basin, which is a shale oil and gas producing area located in southeast New Mexico and West Texas.
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