EPA, New Mexico oil driller reach $6.2 million settlement over pollution leaks

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by Reuters

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EPA, New Mexico oil driller reach $6.2 million settlement over pollution leaks

(Reuters) - Oil and gas company Matador Production Co has agreed to pay $6.2 million after federal inspectors said they discovered pollutant leaks at nearly 20 drilling sites on portions of the Permian Basin in New Mexico.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of New Mexico announced the proposed settlement with the Dallas-based company on Monday, the same day a complaint was filed in New Mexico federal court. Matador did not admit liability in the proposed settlement.

The government agencies said inspectors first discovered the company was leaking ozone-causing pollutants four years ago at 19 of the company's oil and gas production sites in New Mexico. The proposed settlement, if approved by the court, would require monitoring and upgrades to make sure all of the company's 239 well pads in the state comply with pollution regulations.

The EPA said the pollution allegedly leaked is associated with respiratory illnesses and contributes to global warming.

Matador didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The proposed settlement includes a $2.5 million commitment to design and implement monitoring improvements to stop future leaks. It also includes a civil penalty of $1.15 million, $1.25 million for environmental projects to reduce emissions, and $500,000 that will be spent to monitor for future pollutant leaks.

The leaks identified by inspectors violated permits Matador received under the Clean Air Act, which requires states to implement and enforce air quality standards, according to the EPA.

The case is United States of America et al. v. Matador Production Company, U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, case No. 1:23-cv-00260.

For the U.S.: Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, Nicole Veilleux, Alexander Uballez and Ruth Keegan of the U.S. Department of Justice and Jennifer Lee, Lawrence Starfield, and Alexandrea Roland of the EPA.

For New Mexico: James Kenney and Bruce Baizel of the New Mexico Environmental Department.

For Matador: counsel information not immediately available.

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