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Next New Mexico governor expected to favor tougher drilling regulations

Washington — US Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham appears to have won New Mexico's race for governor Tuesday, bringing a potentially tougher regulatory climate for drillers in the No. 3 oil-producing US state.

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Lujan Grisham, a Democrat whose victory was called with 54% of the vote on unofficial results, is seen as more likely to embrace drilling regulations, such as limits to methane emissions. But her reach is limited as governor, given that a large share of the state's producing oil and natural gas leases are on federal land.

She will replace term-limited Republican Governor Susana Martinez, who oversaw a deregulatory push for New Mexico's energy sector.

New Mexico has faced similar pipeline takeaway constraints as Texas, where natural gas flaring also has surged in order to keep oil wells producing.

The state pumped 724,000 b/d of oil in August, an 8% increase from July, according to the latest Energy Information Administration data.

Lujan Grisham beat US Representative Steve Pearce, a Republican, who has fought federal methane regulations and said they were putting the state's small producers out of business. -- Brian Scheid,

-- Meghan Gordon,

-- Edited by Christopher Newkumet,