New Mexico delegates, officials press for plugging oil wells

New Mexico

FILE – In this April 24, 2015, file photo, pumpjacks work in a field near Lovington, N.M. It was the 1970s when New Mexico last increased the amount of bond money that oil and gas companies are required to put up before drilling. As development continues at a record pace, State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard says it’s time to take another look. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — As New Mexico’s oil and gas industry struggles with lower prices and slowing production brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, some state officials and members of Congress are urging the U.S. Interior Department to allow operators to temporarily plugs wells until prices stabilize.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small’s district includes part of the Permian Basin.

The New Mexico Democrat is among those who have asked for more federal money to plug abandoned wells on state and tribal land.

The state’s Oil Conservation Division also supports the idea of a new fund that would give industry workers jobs plugging abandoned wells.

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