Earlier this year, New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney said the Environmental Protection Agency would declare parts of the Permian Basin in New Mexico and Texas as ozone nonattainment areas by the end of the year.
Last year, the EPA began cracking down on areas that violate Clean Air Act standards. But as 2023 draws to a close, the EPA has still not taken action.
To re-designate non-attainment areas, Kenney said the EPA uses a “robust” model that calculates air quality and uses data collected by the state to make predictions. He said they are currently working on modeling that. [and] I’m checking Mie,” and continues for a while.
“And we’re waiting on the edge of our seats to see what they’re going to do.”
He said the process begins with the federal agency sending letters to the governors of New Mexico and Texas.
He told KUNM: “There is no indication that a draft will be produced before the end of the year.” “But even if EPA is a solid, good partner, they may not share that with me or my colleagues in Texas until the eleventh hour.
The redesignation would result in increased permitting and monitoring requirements. Kenney said his aviation program needs about $2 million more to meet its needs, and his budget request won’t cover the full amount. That’s because he’s more focused on raising employee salaries.
Kenney said that without boosting the morale of poorly compensated employees, “even going up to them and asking them, ‘Can you do more?’ is an unfair question.” .
He said the department would need to quickly increase fees to cover costs if redesignation is decided.