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Methane Pollution in Navajo Nation Found to Be Double the National Average

Health + Wellness
Methane Pollution in Navajo Nation Found to Be Double the National Average
A pumpjack on May 7, 2021, near Huerfano, New Mexico. Hannah Grover / NM Political Report

Methane pollution from oil and gas extraction operations on Navajo Nation lands harms the health of local residents and robs the tribe of critical income, writes Hannah Grover for the New Mexico Political Report.


An EDF report released late last month found the industry releases 1.5 million cubic feet of so-called "natural' gas," comprised mostly of methane, into the atmosphere in Navajo Nation each year. That methane gas pollution amounts to 5.2% of the gas extracted, a loss rate double the national average, and costs the tribe $1.2 million in lost royalties and taxes.

The harmful methane pollution can have a major impact on Navajo Nation residents. Carol Davis, the director of the environmental advocacy group Diné CARE, said just a visit left her with nausea, headaches and a panic attack. "It's just amazing," she added, "that people have lived there for so long in an area where they're exposed to that kind of pollution." According to EDF, about a third of those losses could be addressed through regular detection and maintenance.

For a deeper dive:

New Mexico Political Report

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