SANTA FE — The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department announced Thursday that two of its department heads will leave the agency in late 2022.
Adrienne Sandoval, director of the Oil Conservation Division, has accepted the position of director of air and radiation for the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 8 office in Denver. December 31st is her last day at EMNRD. She has been OCD Director since April 2019.
Also on December 31, Jerry Schoeppner, director of the Mining and Minerals Division, will retire, ending a 26-year career in state government. He has headed MMD since February 2020.
“We say goodbye to two accomplished professionals who made a major positive impact on the state of New Mexico through their work at this agency,” said EMNRD Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst. “We’re sorry they’re leaving, but we wish them well in their future endeavors.”
During Sandoval’s tenure at OCD, New Mexico gained international recognition for its ability to create regulations that promote environmental protection without impeding industry growth.
These regulations include:
- Natural gas waste regulations, which require oil and gas operators to capture 98 percent of their natural gas by the end of 2026;
- updates to release rules that encourage operators to take steps to prevent and minimize spills;
- Implementation of the Produced Water Act, including additional requirements for operators to file reports that provide a better understanding of water use in the oil and gas industry; and
- Developing an enforcement program to hold operators accountable and level the playing field after regaining authority during the 2019 legislature. Through this program, over $3.4 million was raised and paid back into the New Mexico General Fund.
Sandoval also oversaw a modernization that made OCD’s processes more efficient, beginning with the implementation of a new IT system that allows operators to submit all applications and reports electronically. Led by Sandoval, OCD is also plugging and rehabilitating 200 derelict well sites over the coming year with funding from the federal bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to work under the stewardship of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Minister Cottrell Propst,” Sandoval said. “In recent years, New Mexico has made incredible strides in mitigating climate change and ensuring responsible oil and gas development in the state. I’m proud to have been a part of New Mexico’s journey forward.”
Schoeppner’s influence at MMD included:
- Working with legislators to create the Mining Act Forfeiture Fund. This amendment to the New Mexico Mining Act provides MMD with the ability to complete reclamation of mined land if an operator fails to meet its obligation to do so;
- spearheaded the development of a uranium dashboard that provides the public with easy access to information on both currently operating and historical uranium mine sites; and
- Working with the Legislature to secure funding to recruit uranium recovery coordinators at both the MMD and the New Mexico Department of Environment. Filling these positions will accelerate the state’s ability to remediate abandoned uranium mine sites.
Schoeppner was also instrumental in forcing an agreement between MMD and the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps to compile a comprehensive inventory of the state’s old hard rock mines. This inventory simplifies the process of cleaning up these potentially dangerous sites.
Under Schoeppner’s leadership, MMD has already identified four communities where it will use funds from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to rehabilitate abandoned coal mine sites.
“Having a career in the public sector is extremely rewarding knowing you can make a difference in public service,” Schoeppner said. “I have worked with many dedicated professionals, many of whom I now call friends, who share the same goal of protecting New Mexico’s people and natural resources. I hope future generations will continue this important work.”
EMNRD is accepting applications from candidates for the positions of Director of the Oil Conservation Division and the Mining and Minerals Division. Visit this page for more informations.