“The New Mexico Oil & Gas Association (NMOGA) is a coalition of oil and natural gas companies, individuals, and stakeholders dedicated to promoting the safe and environmentally responsible development of oil and natural gas resources in New Mexico. Representing over 900 members, NMOGA works with elected officials, community leaders, industry experts, and the general public, to advocate for responsible oil and natural gas policies and increase public understanding of industry operations and contributions to the state.”
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association is a group dedicated to protecting the interests of the oil and gas industry. It has attacked regulatory policy on methane emissions and groundwater standards and opposes any limits on oil and gas development or increased penalties for oil spills. The group has also criticized elected officials, political candidates and groups that raise concerns about oil and gas development. NMOGA director Ryan Flynn, a former state cabinet official who was investigated for allegedly violating state ethics law, has said he hopes to make the group “the most powerful organization in the state of New Mexico, period.” NMOGA has welcomed the Trump administration’s reversals of previous environmental policies, and has even weighed in on policies that don’t directly impact New Mexico, including the Keystone XL pipeline and sage grouse protections.
Notable Activities & Statements on Public Lands Policy
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Denied Any Problems with Groundwater in New Mexico Were Related to the Oil, Gas, and Mining Industry.
NMOGA Claimed No Groundwater Pollution in New Mexico is Due to Fracking. The NMOGA insisted that a county-wide ban on drilling in Mora County was unnecessary because, “after an advocacy group issued a report saying the state has had ‘743 instances’ of oil and gas operations polluting groundwater, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said none of those involved fracking. More important, the association said, the industry promptly cleaned up all the spills to avoid groundwater pollution.” [Milan Simonic, “Mora County Commission votes to keep drilling ban,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/15/14]
NMOGA Claimed “Excellent Record of Safety” in Protecting Groundwater; Blamed Pollution on Unrelated Issues. “Wally Drangmeister, spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group, said baseline tests will protect industry. ‘We have an excellent record of safety in the protection of water,’ Drangmeister said. ‘Not withstanding that, there’s a lot of misinformation and innuendo out there that our processes aren’t safe. … There are many water wells in New Mexico that have issues completely unrelated to oil and gas operations, but people have tried to blame well problems on oil and gas.” [Staci Matlock, “Drilling industry, watchdogs: Testing water quality is good,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 06/23/14]
NMOGA Appealed a Health Standard for Uranium in Groundwater. After the New Mexico Water Quality Commission adopted a new standard for cleaning up groundwater at uranium mills and mines in 2004, the NMOGA and the New Mexico Mining Association (NMMA) challenged the standard in court and lost. [“N.M. affirms new groundwater standard,” Associated Press, 11/24/06]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Opposes Any Bans or Restrictions on Drilling.
NMOGA Called Opponents of Drilling on Public Land “Disconnected From Reality.”
In response to news about 200 people showing up at a oil and gas drilling lease sale auction to protest drilling on federal public land, Steve Henke, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said “’It seems the protesters are disconnected from the reality of their own energy use,’ Henke said. ‘It’s difficult to empathize with their cause when their very presence at the protest was made possible by oil.’” [Rebecca Moss, “Hundreds protest BLM drilling lease auction in Santa Fe,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 04/21/16].
NMOGA Approved of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Order Requiring Faster Drilling Permits on Federal Land, Called It “Great News.” The NMOGA approved of an order by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to speed permits for drilling on federal lands. “Spokesman Robert McEntyre earlier this week noted the case of a Farmington-area permit that was in the process for 480 days. Citing the issues around capturing methane gas during drilling operations, McEntyre said new wells mean a chance to build new, modern infrastructure to help capture methane releases. McEntyre said via email today that the order is ‘great news for future energy production and leasing in New Mexico as we are the largest oil producer on federal land.’” [“Zinke orders faster permits; Interior secretary pushes for end to drilling backlog,” Farmington Daily Times, 07/07/17].
NMOGA Opposed Delay of Oil and Gas Leases, Saying it Would Delay Funds for Schools. In March 2018, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke responded to “concerns from American Indian tribal leaders and others about potential effects on numerous cultural sites” of an announced oil and gas lease sale. Zinke’s announcement halted the sale of 25 parcels until an ongoing analysis of cultural sites could be completed. According to the Cortez Journal, “The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said Friday the deferred sale will mean deferred revenues for New Mexico and its public schools, which rely in part on money generated by oil and gas development. Revenue from the sale of federal leases and a percentage of royalties collected from resulting production is shared between the federal government and the states. ‘We look forward to a rescheduled lease sale so that producers can continue to grow the economy and provide jobs to the San Juan community,’ said Robert McEntyre, a spokesman for the industry group.” [“Interior boss Zinke halts oil and gas lease sale near Chaco,” Cortez Journal, 03/02/18]
NMOGA Said the Economy Would be Hurt if Local Ordinances That Placed Restrictions on Oil and Gas Drilling Passed. After the San Miguel County Commission voted unanimously to “adopt one of the strictest oil and gas drilling ordinances in the country,” NMOGA President Steve Henke said that it would hurt the area’s economy, saying that “places like Carlsbad, Hobbs and Artesia are seeing an economic windfall because of drilling. ‘If you contract the health and the vibrancy of this area with what I call the stagnation of north-central New Mexico, Las Vegas and Mora, it’s stark.’” [Martin Salazar, “Oil and gas ordinance adopted; Move deemed a milestone,” Las Vegas Optic, 11/13/14]
NMOGA Backed a Bill to Outlaw Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Production. Several state legislatures responded to county ordinances restricting drilling and fracking by attempting to “give the state exclusive authority to regulate oil and gas, mining and agriculture operations” Representatives for the NMOGA “spoke in favor of the two senate bills. ‘We’ve seen a proliferation of ordinances in north-central New Mexico — Mora, San Miguel, and Santa Fe counties — that restrict oil and gas development to the point minerals are devalued,’ said Steve Henke, president of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association.” [Staci Matlock, “House approves bill limiting local control of oil and gas development,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 03/10/15]
NMOGA Agreed With a Court Ruling Against the BLM Fracking Rule. “A federal court in Wyoming ruled against the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rule on hydraulic fracturing on Wednesday. Judge Scott Skavdahl sided with lawsuits filed by several western states, Independent Petroleum Association of America, the Western Energy Alliance and the Ute Tribe, saying the BLM does not have the authority to regulate fracking. The groups also contended that states and tribes already have sufficient fracking regulations in place and the ones proposed by the BLM were redundant. ’We disagree with the judge’s decision. The fracking standards are well within BLM’s statutory authority and responsibility to protect our public lands, and ensure that oil and gas operations are conducted safely and responsibly on those lands,’ a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of the Interior said in an email. Wally Drangmeister, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, agreed with the court’s ruling. ‘The regulations in New Mexico are comprehensive and very effective,’ Drangmeister said. ‘This rule would have created a parallel, yet different set of regulations. We feel it would have added a lot to costs and not added anything in increased safety.’” [“Court strikes down BLM fracking rule,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 06/24/16]
NMOGA Opposes Restrictions on Drilling in Densely-Populated Zones. In November, 2017, the Sandoval County Commission adopted a county ordinance with amendments that that would “impose closer scrutiny with public notice and hearings for any request by companies to conduct activities in densely-populated zones of the county.” The NMOGA and other industry groups urged the county to adopt more permissive rules. It was reported that “leaders from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, the Independent Petroleum Association, the Association of Commerce and Industry and Rio Grande Foundation all urged the commission to approve the ordinance as written.” [“Sandoval votes 4-1 to pass oil and gas amendment; Commission to have final vote in January,” Albuquerque Journal, 11/17/17]
NMOGA Accused Sandoval County Commission of Giving in to “Unreasonable Demands” in Giving Up Resolution to Speed Approval Process for Drilling. In December 2017, the Sandoval County Commission dropped an oil and gas resolution that “would have regulated oil and gas activities on unincorporated land in the county for the first time, potentially speeding the approval process for new industry activities in southeastern areas of Sandoval County.” The decision was described as driven by “overwhelming grass-roots opposition.” However, a spokesman for the NMOGA, Robert McEntyre, “said commissioners caved to the opposition. ‘The commission chose to crater to some pretty unreasonable demands from groups that want to eliminate oil and gas development in New Mexico,’ McEntyre said. ‘Environmental groups have succeeded in stonewalling the process.’” [Kevin Robinson-Avila, “Sandoval County oil and gas proposal defeated,” Albuquerque Journal, 12/19/17]
NMOGA Called End of Fracking Rules a “Victory.” The NMOGA welcomed the Trump administration’s action to rescind Obama-era rules covering fracking on federal public lands. NMOGA spokesman Robert McIntyre said, “’The repeal of this rule is a victory for all New Mexico oil and natural gas producers, cutting duplicative and redundant rules and clearing the way for more safe, responsible production that benefits our entire state and funds our schools,’ New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spokesman Robert McEntyre said via email. ‘The administration’s more balanced approach to oil and gas regulations benefits all New Mexicans, instead of simply appeasing political and special interest groups with costly regulatory favors as was common under the prior administration.’” [“Public land fracking regulations rescinded,” Farmington Daily Times, 12/30/17]
NMOGA Opposed Buffer for Drilling Near Chaco Culture National Historical Park. In May 2018, New Mexico’s U.S. Senators introduced legislation that would protect Chaco Culture National Historical Park by “prevent[ing] future leasing or development of minerals owned by the federal government within a 10-mile radius around the park.” The NMOGA said this was unnecessary and duplicative. According to the industry, “it’s possible to drill and protect historical resources at the same time, pointing to existing federal laws that require extensive environmental and cultural reviews. ‘Rather than propose duplicative and unnecessary legislation, we should continue to have a dialogue with pueblos, tribes and local communities to address their concerns.’” [“Tribes, senators seek buffer around Chaco Canyon,” Durango Herald, 05/22/18]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Publicly Criticizes Officials, Groups, or Candidates Who Oppose or Question Oil and Gas Development.
NMOGA Attacked the New Mexico Attorney General for Participating in Methane Lawsuit. Responding to news that New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra secured a preliminary injunction against a Department of Interior action to revise the methane rule. “‘The attorney general has made it clear he doesn’t work for New Mexico. He works for coastal elites and environmentalist fundraiser,’ McEntyre said. ‘It’s a sad day to see the attorney general celebrating with his friends in California, rather than sitting down with New Mexicans and finding real solutions.’” [“Injunction stalls methane rule repeal; But its not a win for environmentalists,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 12/25/2017]
NMOGA Said Land Commissioner Candidates Comparing NM Royalties to Other States Were “Foolish,” Cautioned Against Raising Royalties on Producers. When the issue of royalties paid by oil and gas producers to the state became an issue in the land commissioner’s race, the NMOGA defended the current levels. “’This idea we would just compare New Mexico’s royalty rate to Texas is really a foolish oversimplification,’ says Robert McIntyre, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. McIntyre contends the state is on par with Texas when you consider other taxes. He also cautions that if the goal of raising royalty rates is to increase revenue, the state could end up driving off bidders.” [“Democrats running for land chief make case for oil, gas royalty bump,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 04/29/18]
NMOGA Called Report on Oil and Gas Pollution a “Misleading Campaign of Fear.” The NMOGA objected to the release of a study by environmental groups that highlighted health risks from oil and gas operations. The second annual report by Earthworks, Clean Air Task Force and FracTracker Alliance included an “interactive online map that pinpoints every active oil and gas facility in the nation and determines the number of homes, schools and medical facilities within a half-mile of them.” Robert McIntyre, a spokesman for the NMOGA, accused the groups of “‘continu[ing] misleading campaigns of fear” about the oil and gas industry,” McIntyre said. “The fact is that oil and gas producers have been leading the way in historic emissions reductions over the past several years,’ McIntyre said. ‘…We support sound, science-based regulations for all oil and natural gas operators in New Mexico and always strive to comply with all state and federal laws to protect our communities while allowing our economy to continue to grow.’” [“Report: 7% of New Mexicans exposed to oil, gas production pollutants,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/14/17]
NMOGA Dismisses Forum Discussing Health Effects of Oil and Gas Production as “Fear-Mongering.” In July 2016 the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club hosted a forum discussing potential health effects of oil and gas production. A NMOGA spokesman, Wally Drangmeister, said that the event was based on “’an overt political agenda that lacks scientific data or any analytical rigor for it to be taken seriously as science. (Environmental groups), unfortunately, have been effective in sowing the seeds of doubts and fear in the minds of people who aren’t intimately familiar with the underlying data,’ he said. ‘It becomes all about fear mongering under the guise of science.’” [“Report blames oil and gas industry for health issues,’ Farmington Daily Times, 07/24/16]
New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Director Ryan Flynn May Have Violated State Ethics Laws
NMOGA Director Accused of Violating State Ethics Law. A complaint by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center alleged that the NMOGA Director may have improperly helped the association by giving them information on groundwater regulation changes. The Attorney General opened an investigation after a letter “questioning whether [Former Cabinet Secretary Ryan] Flynn violated the state’s Government Conduct Act. The 1978 law prohibits former public officials from advising others on government matters they were involved in while serving in office and bans them from lobbying for a year. The letter says the attorneys were concerned Flynn might have divulged privileged state information to the state’s largest oil and gas lobby, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, where he took the top job as executive director soon after resigning from his Cabinet post earlier this fall. The attorneys’ concerns center on two public records requests Flynn filed in late September on behalf of the association, seeking documents that concern the Copper Rule, which he helped draft as a lead attorney for the Environment Department.” [“Flynn’s conduct subject of AG probe,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/14/16]
- The Lobbyist Ban “Took on New Relevance” Once Flynn Took Over NMOGA. The New Mexico Senate Rules Committee passed a bill that would prevent state officials from becoming lobbyists for one year after leaving their public positions. According to the Silver City Daily Press, “Lawmakers have considered but never approved similar bills. But the proposal took on new relevance after state Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn resigned last year and a few weeks later took a job as executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. Though he is not officially working as a lobbyist, he is representing an industry he was once responsible for policing.” [“Legislative Roundup,” Silver City Daily Press & Independent, 03/14/17]
- Flynn Told Closed-Door Meeting NMOGA Would be the “Most Powerful Organization in the State of New Mexico, Period.” According to the Santa Fe Reporter, “The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association wants to make the most of this resurgence in the Permian Basin and a friendly political landscape, according to the association president’s address during its 2017 annual meeting. The association aims to build a better ground game, said Ryan Flynn, who left his post as cabinet secretary of the state’s Environment Department to become the association’s executive director, and to drive policy, public discourse and elections. ‘NMOGA is going to be the most powerful organization in the state of New Mexico, period,’ he said, according to a recording of his remarks from the closed-door meeting that was leaked to SFR. ‘We are looking to influence the narrative and win these disputes as we move forward.’” [“Making it, Go ‘Boom’,” Santa Fe Reporter, 10/17/18]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) Opposes Regulations on Methane.
NMOGA Opposed the Methane Rule Because Regulations had “Unintended Consequences” and Cost “A Ton of Money.” When the Obama administration announced its plan to cut methane emissions by between 40 and 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, NMOGA stated that the regulations were unnecessary because “[t]hrough normal innovation and best practices, the industry has already made significant progress in reducing emissions, and we believe that progress will continue without any new regulation … Regulations can lead to unintended consequences. They often sound good, but end up costing industry a ton of money without actually accomplishing their goals.” [“Oil patch methane emissions cause big stink,” Albuquerque Journal, 01/15/15]
NMOGA Resented the Regulations and Said They Had Reduced Methane Emissions “For All the Right Reasons” and “Not Because We’re Told To Do It.” A spokesman for the NMOGA said that the oil and gas industry was concerned about the proposed federal methane rules because they “‘have green completions and better monitoring of our facilities that have shown a big reduction in methane emissions,’ Drangmeister said.’ The industry has been on an aggressive track to reduce methane for a number of reasons first, the environmental concern and second that we’re in the business of selling natural gas, not wasting it.’ Drangmeister said there’s some concern over greater costs to the industry created by Obama’s proposed air quality goals, but he said he will wait to see new rules in final form later this year. ‘With these regulations, we will take a look at those when they come out,’ he said. We are proud of the fact that we have done so much to reduce methane for all of the right reasons because it’s the right thing to do, not because we’re told to do it.’” [“White house tightens regulations to combat methane emissions,” Farmington Daily Times, 01/21/15]
NMOGA Claimed the Methane Rule Would Result in 5 Percent Reduction in Proven Natural Gas Reserves. The NMOGA claimed that “In New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, costs to comply could mean up to a 5 percent reduction in proven natural-gas reserves because of higher expenses to extract it, said Wally Drangmeister, vice president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. He said the industry already is voluntarily cutting methane emissions. ‘It’s an unnecessary, duplicative and highly costly approach that will do little to reel in methane emissions beyond what producers are already doing.’” [“NM braces for methane rules; State’s oil, gas operations could suffer from mandates limiting emissions,” Albuquerque Journal, 08/19/15]
NMOGA Claimed Industry Has “Made Great Progress” in Minimizing Flares. Defending oil and gas producers from criticism over gas flaring, “Steve Henke, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said in an email that the state’s oil and gas producers have a vested interest in minimizing any loss of natural gas by leaks or flaring. ‘Over the past several years, the oil and gas industry has made great progress in minimizing avoidable losses of natural gas,’ Henke said. ‘In addition, producers are working hard to further minimize avoidable losses of natural gas for both environmental and economic reasons.’” [“Flaring still standard practice as regulators aim to reduce emissions,” Farmington Daily Times, 09/02/15]
NMOGA Stated “Federal Regulations Are Unnecessary” Because “There Are No Substitutes” for Natural Gas. In response to a story saying that “25,000 New Mexicans have pledged support for an Obama administration proposal to regulate methane,” NMOGA reiterated its opposition to the rules: “Wally Drangmeister of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, however, said the proposed federal regulations are unnecessary and would put financial strain on an industry that is self-regulating efficiently. ‘You want to have a clean, effective, efficient industry, but you don’t want to have a lot of things that damage and hurt that industry,’ he said. ‘There are no substitutes for these kinds of energy in the short-term.’” [Rebecca Moss, “Over 25,000 New Mexicans have pledged support for proposed federal methane rules,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 12/03/15]
NMOGA Said “A Great Number” of Oil and Gas Wells Could Be Shut Due to Costly Federal Rules. When the Obama administration announced new rules for Methane emissions, the NMOGA “said the federal rules are likely to be cost-prohibitive for the industry. ‘Especially with the current low natural gas and oil prices, if these rules are too costly, a great number of existing oil and gas wells will have to be shut.’” [“New rules proposed to curb methane emissions,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 01/23/16]
NMOGA Said Regulations Like Methane Rule Were “Getting Ridiculous.” “[W]ith the oil and gas industry in crisis from plummeting commodity prices, industry leaders say so many rules coming hard and fast could cripple producers. “’We’re seeing layer upon layer of regulations coming at us on methane emissions,’ said New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spokesman Wally Drangmeister. ‘It’s getting ridiculous.’” [“Tempers flare over newly proposed methane rule; Obama instructs EPA to write regulations on existing oil, gas operations,” Albuquerque Journal, 03/12/16]
NMOGA Claimed Methane Rule Overlaps State Regulations. Said “Redundant” Rules Would Have “Negative” Impacts.” “’The BLM Venting and Flaring rule overlaps with regulations already adopted by the EPA and the State of New Mexico,’ said New Mexico Oil and Gas Association executive director Ryan Flynn in a statement. ‘In New Mexico, where 56 percent of our oil and 63 percent of our natural gas come from leases on federal lands, the negative impacts of this redundant and ill-conceived regulation will be particularly severe.’” [“Venting, flaring rule may be nixed,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 02/01/17]
NMOGA Applauded A Decision Postponing Methane Regulations. Following the announcement that the Trump Administration EPA would “postpone for 90 days regulations imposed by former President Barack Obama to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas wells,” Robert McEntyre, a spokesman NMOGA “cheered” the announcement: “’We applaud Administrator Pruitt’s decision to take a more balanced approach and give this rule a more thorough review,’ he said. ‘As it’s currently written, the rule could cost operators in New Mexico as much as $250,000 per well to comply, ultimately diverting money away from New Mexico’s cash-strapped general fund that supports our state’s schools, roads and health care.’” [“EPA delays new rules on methane emissions; Critics say move will worsen climate change,” Albuquerque Journal, 04/20/17]
NMOGA Called Senate Vote to Keep Methane Rule “Devastating.” The NMOGA condemned a vote by the US Senate to keep the methane rule in place. According to NMOGA spokesman, Robert McEntyre, “the Senate chose ‘to put a devastating, job-killing regulation ahead of American energy jobs.’ McEntyre cited a study by the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy analysis group, that said the rule could reduce the state’s share in mineral royalties and tax revenue by $103 million over the next three years.” [“Methane rule endures, leaving New Mexico opinions divided,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 05/11/17]
NMOGA Claimed No Delay to the Methane Rule Would “Slow Drilling of New Wells.” After a federal court held that the EPA could not unilaterally delay the Obama-era methane rule, Robert McEntyre, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said “the court’s ruling could slow drilling of new wells or modifications made to existing wells in New Mexico, ‘and all of this comes as New Mexico’s rig count has been steadily climbing.’” [“Oil and gas companies must comply with an Obama-era methane rule,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 08/02/17]
NMOGA Claimed “Unreasonable Regulations” Would Cause Job Losses. In response to a congressional letter backing methane rules, Steve Henke, president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association said that “‘Natural gas production is crucial to employment and to the tax base in San Juan County. The jobs and economic benefits this industry provides the region would be difficult and likely even impossible to recreate if unreasonable regulations drive the industry elsewhere. It is critical that any new regulations be implemented in a reasonable fashion that ensures the environment is protected without forcing operators to prematurely shut-in wells or otherwise curtail operations.’” [“State officials urge federal action on Four Corners methane ‘hot spot,’” Farmington Daily Times, 07/20/15]
NMOGA Claimed the Methane Rule Would Result In a Loss of $750 Million in State Revenue, and 2,200 Jobs. According to NMOGA spokesman Robert McIntyre, the methane rule “could lead to shuttered wells, and lost state tax revenue from oil and gas producers said Robert McEntyre, spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA). It could also cost New Mexico millions of dollars in state revenue and thousands of jobs could be lost if the regulations are enacted, read a Thursday NMOGA news release. NMOGA estimated the rule would cost the state about $750 million in general fund revenue, money that funds public schools, healthcare and public safety, while also eliminating 2,200 oil and gas jobs. Executive Director of NMOGA Ryan Flynn said extraction companies are already doing their part to reduce emissions, and the federal regulations are an unneeded burden.” [“Impact of venting policy debated; Activists, industry butt heads over methane rule,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 11/10/17]
NMOGA Claimed the Methane Rule Would “Cause Unnecessary and Severe Economic Harm” to New Mexico. After a federal court ordered the EPA to continue to implement the methane rule, it was reported that “The New Mexico Oil & Gas Association has stated online that the rule, as written, ‘will cause unnecessary and severe economic harm to our state, our communities, and real lives.’” In addition, the groups’ spokesperson, Robert McIntyre, said, “‘Over the past 25 years, from 1990 to 2015, as oil and gas production has increased methane gas emissions have declined,’ NMOGA spokesman Robert McEntyre said last month in the Daily Times’ Energy magazine. He said the industry group hopes to move forward with common sense and science-based rules.” [“EPA must follow methane demand; Court: Agency’s boss overstepped authority,” Farmington Daily Times, 07/04/17]
NMOGA Opposes Methane Rule Even When It Produces Economic Benefits. Even after reported benefits of potential jobs and economic benefits from methane capture were reported in the media, the NMOGA continued to oppose the methane rule. According to the Albuquerque Journal, “Robert McEntyre, spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, called the federal regulation ‘a heavy-handed, top-down approach’ and said the issue is best addressed by giving energy companies freedom to innovate their own solutions. He also disputed Bargen’s characterization of the Colorado law. ‘It’s like taking a cow to a slaughterhouse and saying, ‘Do you want to be a steak or a rawhide?’” he said.” [“Methane offers potential job source for NM; Capturing or preventing leaked gas holds economic potential,” Albuquerque Journal, 03/08/18]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Criticized Negative Scientific Findings Regarding Methane Emissions.
- NMOGA Dismissed a Hot Spot Discovery by Saying Scientists Need to Pinpoint Other Sources. A newly discovered a hot spot in the San Juan Basin “accounted for 10 percent of all oil- and gas-related methane emissions from the U.S.” The NMOGA dismissed concerns raised by the study by saying that non-industry sources needed to be identified: “Wally Drangmeister, a spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said there are many sources of methane in the region, and that scientists need to pinpoint the contributions from natural sources, coal mining and gas production. He said his industry already has made strides in reducing methane emissions by using new technology to capture the gas. Adding another layer of regulation from the EPA will increase the cost of production, he said.” [“EPA’s proposed new methane rules could have big impact in New Mexico,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 08/19/15]
- NMOGA Disputed Scientific Study Estimating Cost of Methane Emissions at $2 Billion. NMOGA disputed claims made by a study which claimed “U.S. industry operations emit 13 million metric tons of methane each year, indicating a leak rate of 2.3 percent. That compares with EPA’s estimate of 1.4 percent, according to the study, which the Environmental Defense Fund coordinated with coauthors from 15 institutions. If accurate, the amount leaked represents about $2 billion annually in lost gas, or enough to fuel 10 million homes. A spokesman for the NMOGA countered that “companies are already aggressively working to lower emissions. Methane leakage declined 46 percent in the San Juan Basin and 6 percent in the Permian from 2011-2016, according to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spokesman. ‘That reflects concerted efforts by our industry to catch as much methane as possible’ said NMOGA spokesman Robert McEntyre. ‘We’re seeing a lot of investment in new technologies to tackle the issue.’” [Kevin Robinson-Avila, “Study: Methane emissions much higher than EPA says” Albuquerque Journal, 06/21/2018]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association supported the Trump Administration’s Work to Repeal the Methane Rule.
- NMOGA Claimed An Injunction Was Not Reflective of the Trump Administration. Responding to news that New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra secured a preliminary injunction against a Department of Interior action to revise the methane rule, NMOGA spokesman Rob McIntyre said, “operators are already mitigating methane emissions, without the ‘burdensome’ federal regulations. He said the injunction was a ‘temporary procedural victory’ and did not reflect the philosophy of Trump’s administration moving forward.” [“Injunction stalls methane rule repeal; But it’s not a win for environmentalists,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 12/25/17]
- NMOGA Supported “Rewrite” and “Replacement” of Methane Rule. On the methane rule injunction: “‘This does not impact the [Trump] administration’s work to rewrite rules to make them in the better interest of the country and the people of New Mexico.’ [NMOGA spokesman Rob] McEntyre said. ‘If anything, it adds a layer of confusion. Regulatory uncertainty is never a good thing. We fully support the rewrite of this rule.’ McEntyre said the methane rule could be detrimental to smaller extraction operations, adding costs that some operators can’t afford. ‘It seems to make perfect sense to replace a rule that would devastate small producers,’ he said. ‘The rules simply do not work for small producers, or states like New Mexico that rely on this industry.’” [“Injunction stalls methane rule repeal; But it’s not a win for environmentalists,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 12/25/17]
- NMOGA Welcomed Trump Administration Revisions to Methane Rule. In February 2018, the Bureau of Land Management published “New standards for methane emissions from oil and gas wells, which look a lot like pre-Obama Administration standards,” NMOGA spokesperson Robert McIntyre said “the proposed revisions are a welcome development. ‘We believe any rule regulating methane emissions ought to be common-sense and cost-effective, and this (2016) rule was neither,’ McEntyre said on Feb. 13. ‘The steps by the Trump administration and the Department of the Interior are welcome news for the oil and gas industry, and ultimately welcome news for our state and for our budget that will have opportunity to grow without burdensome regulations.’” [“BLM proposes to reinstate pre-Obama-era methane rules,” Farmington Daily Times, 02/25/2018].
NMOGA Sued New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board (NMEIB) Over Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits. The NMEIB, which is an agency that “enforces various state regulations and federal laws relating to protection of the environment, resources, and public health and safety,” was sued by NMOGA in January 2010. The lawsuit challenged the board’s authority to regulate the gases. It was reported in May 2010 that New Mexico’s 5th District Court enjoined the NMEIB from taking further action and that the board would appeal to the state’s Supreme Court. The New Mexico Supreme Court would vacate the 5th District Court’s decision and allow the emissions cap to proceed. [Environmental Improvement Board, New Mexico Environment Department, accessed 09/20/18, Steve Lynn, “Farmington to consider joining lawsuit, Farmington Daily Times, 01/18/2010, “Jeff Stanfield, “New Mexico issues draft greenhouse cap-and-trade rule for comment,”SNL Canada Energy Week, 05/24/10, Susan Montoya Bryan, “NM high court: Emissions cap proposal may proceed,” Associated Press, 06/07/2010]
- NMOGA Would Later Petition NMEIB to Repeal the Rules. In January 2011 it was reported that NMOGA hoped that the New Mexico legislature would pass a bill that would stop NMEIB’s cap. In June 2011 NMOGA had joined several other organizations to petition the NMEIB to repeal the rules. [Steve Terrell, “Industry Wary of S.F. Rep from Oil Family,” The Santa Fe New Mexican, 01/25/11; “Petitions filed to repeal NM greenhouse gas rules,” Associated Press, 07/21/11]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Supported a Ruling Denying Sage Grouse Protection Under the Endangered Species Act.
NMOGA Said a Decision to Not Designate Sage Grouse as an Endangered Species Was “‘A Positive’ Compromise” Between Government and Industry. After the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the greater sage grouse does not need federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, “Wally Drangmeister, spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, said that grouse habitat isn’t an issue for New Mexico producers but that the association views the ruling as ‘a positive’ compromise between industry and government.“ [“Fish and Wildlife Service rejects protection for greater sage grouse,” Albuquerque Journal, 09/23/2015].
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Supports the Keystone XL Pipeline.
NMOGA Backs Keystone Pipeline Because it Says it Would Impact Production as a Whole. The NMOGA spoke out against a US Senate vote that failed to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, even though the pipeline would have no direct impact on the New Mexico oil and gas industry. “’For energy security, it makes sense,’ said Wally Drangmeister, vice president and director of communications for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. Drangmeister went on to explain that if the pipeline were approved in the future, then it would not have any direct impact on oil production occurring in the Permian Basin, but it would impact energy production as a whole in the long term.” [“Keystone pipeline fails to pass, NM senators vote no,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 11/20/14]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) Opposes Stronger Penalties for Oil Spills
NMOGA Said the Existing Enforcement on Spills Were a “Substantial Deterrent.” In February 2017, a New Mexico Senate committee approved laws that would make it easier to fine oil and gas producers for spills and environmental violations. The proposal came after “years of sharp increases in the volume of spills involved in oil and gas production, and comes as major companies like ExxonMobil and Halliburton have shown a surge of interest in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico.” A NMOGA lobbyist, Mike D’Antonio, told the committee that the organization opposed the plan saying “‘These enforcement powers already provide a substantial deterrent.’” [“Senate bill allows state to impose steeper fines for oil spills,” Los Alamos Monitor, 02/24/17]
NMOGA Questioned the Penalty Application Towards Violators. In addition, “New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spokesman Wally Drangmeister questioned the need for [stronger penalties], saying the OCD can already require a well to be shut in, stop producers from selling their oil or bar an operator from obtaining new permits to drill. In addition, the bill replaces the standard of ‘knowingly and willfully’ committing a violation with a strict liability standard. ‘This means that an operator who suffers a lightning strike that causes a tank failure and resulting spill would be subject to the same penalty as someone who intentionally spills produced water on a lease road,’ Drangmeister said.” [Bill strengthens state penalties for oil spills; Industry says ‘powerful tools’ already in place to enforce regulations,” Albuquerque Journal, 03/04/17]
NMOGA Lobbyists Helped Kill Oil Spill Penalties With $17,638 Steakhouse Meal. A USA Today article noting the power of lobbyists in state capitols stated that “The penalties for spills and violations in New Mexico haven’t been updated since the 1930s, thanks in part to the influence of the powerful oil and gas industry. In 2013, lawmakers and environmentalists tried and failed to update penalties and cut a lengthy court process. But 36 oil and gas lobbyists representing 23 companies and five trade associations worked to nix the bill, according to Common Cause New Mexico, which lobbies for tighter ethics rules. ‘I’ve never seen so many suits in my life,’ said Viki Harrison, director of Common Cause New Mexico. ‘People were just lined up outside. They couldn’t even fit in the committee room.’ And 10 days after the bill was introduced, state records show, the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association paid lawmakers’ $17,638 tab at The Bull Ring, an upscale steakhouse an 11-minute walk from the State Capitol in Santa Fe.” [Liz Essley Whyte and Ben Wieder, “Lobbyists turn attention to state capitals,“ USA Today, 02/12/2016]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Intervened On Behalf of the Bureau of Land Management Against Two Cattle Rangers in a Lawsuit.
NMOGA Was An Intervenor For the Bureau of Land Management Over Oil and Gas Drilling Against Two Ranchers. In 2004, Tweeti and Linn Blancett filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management regarding the lack of enforcement on oil and gas operators on the same federal land the Blancetts used to allow their cattle to graze. The case, in which NMOGA filed as an intervenor for the defense, was dismissed on March 20th, 2006. [Judge dismisses ranchers’ suit on oil and gas rights on BLM land,” Associated Press, 04/14/06, Blancett et al v. United States Bureau of Land Management et al, Case 1:04cv2152, filed 12/13/04, Karen Budd-Falen, Department of Influence, accessed 09/30/18]
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) Has Been Supportive of the Trump Administration’s Stances on Regulatory Rollbacks.
NMOGA, Optimistic Trump Would Take a “Rational” Approach, Called Regulations “Unsound Public Policy.” Following the 2016 election, the NMOGA expressed optimism about Trump’s policies. “’We’re optimistic about the opportunity for a more rational approach on the federal level for the energy industry, said New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Vice President Wally Drangmeister. We believe many of the recent regulatory proposals put forth by the BLM and the EPA are unsound public policy that needlessly add costs while providing limited or even no additional environmental benefits.’” [“Energy policy changes loom; Trump climate change rebuff may impact NM producers,” Albuquerque Journal, 11/10/16]
NMOGA Was “Hopeful” that Regulations Would be “Slowed Down, Rolled Back.” “’There have been an awful lot of regulations that have been proposed and are pending,’ said Wally Drangmeister, vice president of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. ‘We think they have gone beyond what makes economic and environmental sense. We’re hopeful they’ll be slowed down, rolled back.’ Drangmeister, who said many of the regulations are ‘redundant,’ said their removal would be beneficial to the Permian Basin.” [“Oil, gas hopeful on Trump,” Carlsbad Current-Argus, 11/16/2016].
Lobbying & Political Contributions
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) Hired the Former Lobbying Firm of Current Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt
NMOGA Hired Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt’s Old Lobbying Firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Beginning in 1st Quarter 2018. According to its registration form, lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck registered to lobby on behalf of NMOGA beginning March 30th, 2018. Current Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt was a registered lobbying with the firm. Its Q1 and Q2 2018 forms indicate that Luke Johnson and Jon Hrobsky lobbied the Interior Department. Their reporting forms indicated their lobbying activities were “Upstream oil and gas issues on federal lands.” [Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Registration form, U.S. House Lobbying Disclosure Database, 03/30/18, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Lobbying Report Q1, 05/21/18, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Lobbying Report Q2, 07/18/18]
(New Mexico does not require disclosure of amounts paid by or to lobbyists)
Lobbyist Name Years employed
Patrick Laurence Padilla 2017 – 2018
Mr. Michael Anthony D’Antonio 2015 – 2017
Walter Drangmeister 2013 – 2017
Matthew Gonzales 2015 – 2016
A.Marie Gutierrez y Alarid 2013 – 2016
Steven Henke 2013 – 2016
Ms. Louis W. Rose 2014
Kent Cravens 2013
Source: NM Secretary of State, via The Openness Project
NMOGA Increased 2018 Lobbying Spending By $12,000 to “Show Appreciation.” According to an analysis of lobbying expenditures it was reported “The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association spent almost $28,000 for legislators at the Casa Espana Hotel in Santa Fe. The oil and gas group spent almost $12,000 more than in 2017. Robert Mcintyre, communications director for NMOGA, told New Mexico In Depth that the dinner held on Jan. 31 was a ‘new event for 2018.’ He said it was an open, bipartisan dinner to ‘show appreciation to legislators.The idea was to create a relaxed atmosphere, not necessarily a business atmosphere, but to create an atmosphere … to really show legislators appreciation,’ Mcintyre said. New Mexico’s budget is heavily reliant on the oil and gas industry, which provides 15 to 25 percent of general fund revenues each year. All the while, the state regulates the oil and gas industry.” [“Lobbying during session tops $200K,” Gallup Independent, 02/21/18]
NMOGA Filed $22,181 in Expenses on Dinner for Elected Officials and Association Executives. An analysis of lobbying reports filed in the 2015 legislative session found that “The second largest lobbyist expense report of the session so far was filed last week by Steve Henke, president of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association. Henke reported spending $22,181 on a Feb. 17 dinner at The Bull Ring restaurant. Henke’s report said those invited to the dinner included his group’s board of directors, representatives of companies that belong to the association, the governor, lieutenant governor, Cabinet secretaries, all legislators and guests, and legislative staff.” [Steve Terrell, “Group urging more lobbyist disclosure biggest spender so far,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 02/24/15]
Republican Campaign Committee of
New Mexico $5,500
Antonio Maestas $625
Reform Sandoval County PAC $530
Richard C Martinez $250
Jane E Powdrell-Culbert $250
Craig W Brandt $127
Ms. Elisabeth L. Keen $80
Source: NM SOS via The Openness Project
Revenue & Expenditures
Membership Dues: $1,033,379
Annual Meeting Income: $264,910
Source: NMOGA Form 990, 2013-16
Annual meeting: $199,066
Public relations: $123,076
Source: NMOGA Form 990, 2014-16
NMOGA Contributed to Pro-Coal Ad Campaign in 2015. In May 2015, the Four Corners Economic Development launched an ad campaign it said would “fight back against ‘aggressive misinformation spread by some radical environmental groups,’ specifically over the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s expected vote this month on the PNM [New Mexico Public Regulation Commission] plan that would shut down two coal-fired generating units, but keep the power plant running.” The campaign, called “Real People Real Jobs NM,” had “raised money from groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, PESCO, Lane Electric and others, he said. Hagerman said the campaign will spotlight the faces of power plant and coal mine employees to personalize the potential impact if the plan fails to secure commissioners’ approval.” [“Economic development officials counter critics of PNM plan to keep San Juan Generating Station open,” Farmington Daily Times, 05/04/15]
NMOGA spent $250K on Pro-Industry Media Campaign. In 2015, the NMOGA rolled out “a 30-second commercial as part of its ‘Funding Education, Fueling Our Future’ campaign. The TV spot will air on markets throughout the state until February 2016. The state oil and gas group will spend approximately $250,000 to run the commercial, as well as publish print ads in an effort to tout one of the state’s largest economic drivers, according to NMOGA spokesman Wally Drangmeister.” [“New Mexico oil and gas group starts media campaign,” Farmington Daily Times, 04/04/15]