New Mexico Environment Department Settles Case With ETC Texas Pipeline

NMED News:

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) entered into a settlement agreement and stipulated final compliance order with ETC Texas Pipeline, Ltd. (ETC) to resolve alleged statutory, regulatory and permit violations at the company’s Jal No. 3 Gas Plant near Jal.

NMED cited ETC for illegally emitting more than 3.1 million pounds of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide between Jan. 1, 2017 and Aug. 31, 2018. The agreement includes a civil penalty of $1.3 million and a requirement to permanently shut down the sulfur recovery unit, which will eliminate more than 1,200 tons per year of pollutants in southeast New Mexico. 

“There is no denying that unless the Department adopts the strongest emission rules possible to protect air quality and continues to vigorously holds polluters like ETC Texas Pipeline accountable for their egregious emissions violations – our air quality will deteriorate further resulting in federal sanctions due to unhealthy air quality levels,” NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said. “A strong enforcement response deters future violations and levels the playing field for those businesses whose investors and shareholders take environmental compliance seriously.”

Pursuant to state law, the $1,302,347.51 penalty is reverted to State of New Mexico’s general fund and not kept by NMED. The general fund is the primary state fund from which the ongoing expenses of state government are paid. 

Failure to comply with emissions limits results in emissions of harmful levels of air pollutants that can impact public health and the environment, including contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone and other hazardous air quality conditions.

Sept. 20, the Environment Department’s ozone precursor rule, which requires significantly reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from the oil and gas industry, will go before the Environmental Improvement Board.