Planet Earth

published : 2023-11-10

New Mexico's Top Energy Official Set to Leave Post, Ending Era of Unprecedented Expansion

Sarah Cottrell Propst oversaw the booming oil and natural gas production in NM

An aerial shot of the vast oil fields in New Mexico, captured with a Sony Alpha A7R III.

In a stunning development, Sarah Cottrell Propst, the esteemed secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department in New Mexico, will be stepping down from her post at the end of this year.

During her illustrious five-year tenure, Propst was instrumental in overseeing a period of unparalleled growth in the oil and natural gas industry. The state of New Mexico, already known for its abundant energy resources, experienced an exponential surge in production under her guidance.

Ranked as the second-largest oil producer in the entire nation, New Mexico owes much of its success to the advanced oil-drilling techniques that have unlocked immense amounts of natural gas from the state's portion of the Permian Basin, stretching into Texas.

However, not all was smooth sailing in this boom. Despite the triumphs, producers often grappled with the challenges of effectively gathering and transporting this surplus of gas, leading to occasional struggles in the industry.

Sarah Cottrell Propst, the top energy official, speaking at a conference on sustainable energy practices, taken with a Nikon D850.

Nonetheless, Sarah Cottrell Propst's legacy will be remembered not only for the growth she oversaw but also for her unwavering commitment to tackle environmental concerns. In recent times, Propst played a vital role in implementing groundbreaking regulations to mitigate methane pollution and waste in the petroleum sector.

New Mexico's leadership in curbing greenhouse gas emissions has been commendable. State oil and gas regulators, driven by Propst's direction, made significant updates to restrict methane venting and flaring at production sites, aiming to control the release and unmonitored burning of this potent climate-warming gas.

Interestingly, while these regulations are stringent, they do provide allowances for emergencies and necessitate mandatory reporting, ensuring a balanced approach toward sustainable energy practices.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham lauded Sarah Cottrell Propst's stewardship of natural resources, emphasizing her role in limiting local climate pollution and setting the stage for a more environmentally-friendly future.

A panoramic view of the beautiful New Mexico landscape and state parks, shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Furthermore, Propst's leadership extended beyond the energy sector. Leading an agency with over 550 employees, she oversaw a wide range of responsibilities, including forest health and the management of 35 state parks.

Among her notable accomplishments was the 2019 legislation she masterfully negotiated, which established benchmarks for modernizing New Mexico's electrical grid by incorporating increased electricity production from solar and wind installations.

As Sarah Cottrell Propst prepares to bid farewell to her esteemed position, her absence will undoubtedly be felt. Her contributions have charted a new course for New Mexico, inspiring other regions to follow suit and embrace a more sustainable and responsible approach to energy production and conservation.