NM bill proposes energy companies to compensate field worker's health care costs related to air pollution

Morgan Lee reports for the Associated Press about New Mexico oil field workers with ailments caused by smog and methane could possibly seek health care reimbursements under a measure proposed by Democratic Rep. Gabe Vasquez.


In a nutshell:

The proposed legislation mandates that oil and natural gas companies across the country contribute to a trust that would reimburse workers for health expenses linked to methane and smog-related ailments, including respiratory issues such as asthma. The bill's inspiration comes from concerns voiced by oil field workers in southeastern New Mexico and aims to address health disparities while shifting away from the previous pro-oil stance of Vasquez's Republican predecessor. The bill's details were unveiled in Hobbs, accompanied by testimonials from oil workers and advocates for immigrant rights, echoing concerns about industry practices and the need for fair compensation. The bill draws parallels with a compensation program for coal miners with black lung disease established under a 1969 law.

Key quote:

“In reality my heart breaks because we’re left with the effects of this industry and the corporations that don’t pay what they should for it to be a just system,” Rep. Vasquez said in Spanish.

The big picture:

Exposure to methane and smog poses significant health risks, especially for workers in the oil and gas industry. These individuals are vulnerable to respiratory problems such as chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and decreased lung function due to the inhalation of polluted air. Smog, a noxious combination of pollutants, can irritate the respiratory tract and exacerbate pre-existing conditions, potentially resulting in long-term lung damage and heightened susceptibility to heat-related illnesses among workers who are regularly exposed.

Learn more about the legislation at the Associated Press.

Workers in many industries are exposed to harmful pollutants and chemicals. For example, PFAS are an important, but understudied, source of on-the-job chemical exposure, writes Grace van Deelen.

algoma steel sault pollution
Algoma Steel, pictured in 2020. (Credit: Christopher Katsarov Luna/EHN)

Cleaner steelmaking can’t come fast enough for this Northern Ontario city

Algoma Steel continues to exceed Canada’s standard air pollution limits for cancer-causing compounds and struggles with spills as it pushes toward a “green” makeover.

SAULT SAINTE MARIE, Mich. — Peter McLarty technically stopped teaching science in 2000. But the retired high school teacher continues to educate — only now it’s about the dangers of a massive steel-making plant in his Northern Ontario community.

Keep reading...Show less
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less

Iowa faces a severe surge in stream contamination due to nitrate buildup

Iowa's prolonged drought has led to nitrate accumulation in soils, risking a significant increase in stream pollution levels.

Jared Strong reports for Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Keep reading...Show less
Global Plastic Treaty
The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution negotiations were held in Nairobi, Kenya last November. (Credit: UNEP/Ahmed Nayim Yussuf)

This will be a big year in shaping the future of chemical recycling

With a presidential election looming, a wave of state-level legislation circulating, an international plastics treaty taking form and fights brewing over proposed facilities, 2024 is set to shape the regulatory future of chemical recycling in the U.S.

Keep reading...Show less
plastic chemical recycling
Credit: Unsplash+

What is chemical recycling?

When you think about plastic recycling, you probably picture plastic being converted into shiny new bottles, boxes and bags.
Keep reading...Show less
groundwater conservation aquifer depletion
Credit: kaninw/BigStockPhotos ID: 430959740

Recent court rulings bolster state power to safeguard groundwater

In a significant shift, western states are gaining ground in the battle to conserve their precious groundwater resources.

Christopher Flavelle reports for The New York Times.

Keep reading...Show less
preserving language amid climate change
Credit: Larry Lamsa/Flickr

The struggle to preserve North Sami language amid climate change

In a warming Arctic, the North Sami language, rich in specialized terms for snow, reindeer and fishing, faces the loss of words and knowledge integral to the Sami people's heritage.

Erika Benke reports for the BBC.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
petrochemical shell pennsylvania plastic

Tracking petrochemical accidents across the US

A new database monitors fires, flares, spills and other accidents at petrochemical plants.

petrochemical houston gulf coast

Lives “devastated’ by petrochemical industry pollution in Texas: Report

New analysis illustrates the climate, environmental, and human rights tolls linked to petrochemical production surrounding the Houston Ship Channel region.

LNG gulf coast

LNG production comes with a price, Gulf Coast communities warn

US takes the global lead on liquid natural gas production and export, as economic promises and environmental worries collide.

LNG gulf coast

La producción de gas natural licuado tiene un precio, advierten las comunidades la Costa del Golfo

Entre promesas económicas y preocupaciones ambientales, Estados Unidos lidera la producción y exportación de gas natural licuado.

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

“La gente no sabe qué haríamos sin el petróleo y el gas. Esto nos sale muy caro”.

extreme heat

Op-ed: We are undercounting heat-related deaths in the US

Knowing how many people die or get sick from heat-related causes is essential for the policy arguments to equitably adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.