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Environmental Groups Release New Oil And Gas Threats Map

Above photo: An oil well is pictured, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Riverside Park in Aztec. Hannah Grover/NM Political Report.

In an effort to pressure President Joe Biden’s administration to enact stronger oil and gas regulations, national environmental advocacy groups have released a new map that shows where people’s health is threatened by extraction.

Earthworks and FracTrack Alliance coordinated to create the map using publicly-available data and peer-reviewed science.

The map is available online and people can type in their address to see how many production facilities are located within half a mile of their house.

According to the map, more than 144,000 New Mexicans live within half a mile of an oil or gas production site. More than 28,000 students attend school or day care within half a mile of a site.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Alan Septoff with Earthworks said in the San Juan Basin in northwest New Mexico, 80 percent of the residents are within that distance from a site.

According to a press release, the number of people living within half a mile of a production site in Eddy County, which is part of the Permian Basin, has increased by 40 percent since 2017.

While New Mexico is one of the top producing oil and gas states, it does not rank at the top in terms of health risk from oil and gas. Septoff explained this is based on the population of people whose health could be impacted from the facilities.

“Often the pollution goes unseen, but the climate and health impacts are clear. Oil and gas extraction is accelerating us deeper into a climate crisis, while exposing communities living closest to that extraction with known toxins and carcinogens,” Josh Eisenfeld, a corporate accountability campaign manager at Earthworks, said.

The map shows the location of oil and gas production facilities and maps houses and schools and daycares within a half-mile radius of those sites.

Septoff said the half mile radius is not a clear line and living outside of the radius does not mean that people can’t face health impacts from the facilities. He said the closer people live to a production site, the more likely it is to impact their health.

Nationwide, more than 17 million people are impacted by oil and gas production, according to the groups. That is an increase of 4.7 million people from the last time the groups released a map in 2017.

Septoff said the map does not take into account downstream facilities like refineries.

“This map gives the president 17 million more reasons, living breathing reasons to make sure that his EPA finalizes the strongest rules and stronger rules than they have already drafted,” Eisenfeld said.

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