New Mexico regulators make emissions sweep in Permian Basin

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CARLSBAD (AP) — New Mexico regulators are looking to crack down on air quality violations by energy companies operating in one of the nation's most productive oil and gas basins.

The state environment department announced Wednesday that its staff recently conducted nearly 100 inspections across New Mexico's portion of the Permian Basin.

They were checking compliance with air quality regulations and permits.

Agency spokeswoman Maddy Hayden says it will take the department at least several weeks — and possibly months — to review and determine what enforcement cases should be pursued.

The inspectors used infrared cameras to detect emissions that are invisible to the naked eye.

Five New Mexico Environment Department staff were involved in the effort for five business days. At an average of $27.00 per hour for a total of 40 hours each, the department’s air quality bureau chief estimated the inspections cost $5,400.

“These types of evaluations are consistent with the work that is already being performed by the Department and, thus, is in line with the resources allocated for that work. No additional equipment was required for these inspections,” Hayden told the Los Alamos Monitor.

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