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Bill aims to strike down pit rules

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By Susan M. Bryan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A lawmaker from northwest New Mexico, home to one of the nation's largest natural gas basins, is taking aim at state regulations for oil and natural gas producers.

Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Farmington, has drafted legislation seeking to rescind the so-called pit rule, which restricts the use of pits for onsite waste disposal at drilling sites. The rule also regulates below-grade tanks and the use of closed loop systems during oil and gas operations.

"The pit rule had one goal and that was just to raise the cost of fossil fuels. The problem is they are so much cheaper than some of the alternative energies out there," Taylor said. "I think it's a political thing that deals with money, it doesn't deal with the environment."

The industry blames the pit rule in part for a slowdown in drilling activity in New Mexico and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenues.

Taylor's legislation says the rule has cost the state about $140 million in tax revenue since being enacted in 2008 and that rescinding the rule would help recharge the state's coffers. Legislators are in the last stretch of a 30-day session that has focused on finding more revenue and raising taxes to plug a budget shortfall.


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