Part of the social contract for companies operating in New Mexico is the straightforward notion that they should clean up after themselves. That’s especially true for industries like oil and natural gas whose messes contain deadly pollutants.
How combining a just economic transition and strong climate action equals a safer, healthier and more equitable New Mexico
New Mexicans are already experiencing severe impacts of climate change – harming our health, air, land, water, and economy. The Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) would establish nation-leading carbon pollution reduction targets to benefit current and future generations while ensuring that all New Mexicans will benefit from the jobs and economic growth provided in a clean energy future.
While the extraction of oil and natural gas in New Mexico is mostly done on public lands, the state has less authority over the process than you might think. And while the industry puts a lot of money into our public schools, it could put a lot more money in if the state made the rules. Unfortunately, because much of the public land where drilling takes place here is actually federal land, we must rely on the federal government to set the rules.
While the oil and gas industry has brought a lot of money into New Mexico, it can also end up costing us money - lots of money. When wells no longer produce, they are abandoned. Responsible companies cap these old wells and clean up the surrounding area. But not all old wells are capped and cleaned - especially when the company has gone bankrupt. This gif-splainer lays out the problem and the solution.
Tuesday’s meeting of the Revenue Stabilization & Tax Policy Committee included a sobering reminder of the urgent need to find more stable revenue, but it also provided cause for hope – by reforming an unstable, inequitable tax structure, New Mexico can better serve the state’s children and future.
Since it was implemented in 2010, the ACA has faced strong opposition from Republicans. Although attempts to repeal the ACA have been unsuccessful, the Trump Administration has been highly effective at weakening the ACA by undermining its provisions. This includes making it more difficult to enroll in coverage by adding more administrative hurdles for eligibility and cutting the budget for outreach and enrollment.
Pre-pandemic New Mexico saw a boom in oil and gas extraction, which was mirrored by an increase in state revenue. And while many state leaders opined that this boom was going to last indefinitely, the reality for the industry was far more grim. “In short,” the report states, “while New Mexico posted record oil and gas revenues, the oil and gas industry itself was reporting steep losses.”
The Affordable Care Act not only allowed millions of Americans to receive health insurance, it also improved public health and helped close the health disparity gap for people of color. Part 1 in this 2-part blog series looks at how the ACA benefitted New Mexicans.
The fact is the entire federal leasing system is dramatically outdated and in need of wholesale reform. Look no further than BLM’s New Mexico sale in August to see why someone with no experience in oil and gas development – was able to snatch up a third of the leases offered for next to nothing.
The article’s revelations are at once shocking and not surprising, with lobbyists who have spent years fighting against regulations to reduce methane waste and pollution admitting the problem is real. And if you suspected the industry is more concerned about its image than protecting your health, you’re right. Its answer to out-of-control methane emissions? More image polishing and public relations advertising.