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Oil, gas industry supports economy, environment

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You know how it feels when you’re watching a movie and the hero is falsely accused? You begin feeling angry as you await the vindication of the good guy and the exposure of the villain spreading vicious lies.

That’s the feeling that we in the oil and gas industry endure all too frequently.

I felt this frustration last week when I read an op-ed column published in the Journal written by a longtime anti-industry agitator.

In his piece he wrote, “Big Oil” is “an industry that has no moral code of conduct. They are an industry based in greed, stealing our water, fouling our air, causing major health issues and showing no regard for our oceans.” And for good measure he claimed that the industry is “killing our planet.”

Wow. This may be a new record for bizarre, over-the-top propaganda.

Many books, movies and TV shows have been produced debunking this kind of nonsense, but here are a just few facts to consider.

Oil and natural gas (and coal) built and sustain our modern world. Oil is in virtually every product you touch, and it is the fuel source for virtually all transportation. Natural gas provides the heat in our homes; it cooks our food, and it is the feedstock for fertilizer, chemicals and all sorts of products we use.

Our lives would not exist in any way that we would recognize without these vital and powerful energy resources.

In New Mexico the oil and gas industry is especially important. If our economy were a train, oil and gas would be the lead locomotive.

Last year the industry pumped $1.7 billion into the state’s General Fund. The oil and gas economic engine accounts for approximately 95 percent the Land Grant Permanent Fund and 99 percent of the Severance Tax Permanent Fund.

This money is used to support our public schools, universities, hospitals, water reservoirs, public roads and buildings, state parks and more. If we were one of the states not fortunate enough to have petroleum resources, our personal and business taxes would have to be much higher to pay for public services.

On the environmental side the anti-industry activist’s claims are even more preposterous.

The land, air and waterways of this great country are much cleaner than they were a generation ago. This happened because the public rightly demanded that business and industry stop unnecessarily damaging the environment and because technological advancements (such as cleaner-burning and more-efficient engines) made a cleaner society economically possible.

None of this would have happened if our brightest minds didn’t have adequate energy resources to do their work.

The anti-energy agitator is greatly concerned about carbon emissions. Is he unaware that in 2012 energy-related emissions in the United States were the lowest in two decades? Or that emissions have trended significantly downward in the past five years?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the switch to natural gas electricity generation away from coal is by far the biggest driver behind our decline in greenhouse gas emissions.

Here in New Mexico, oil and gas producers have contributed millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of acres of leasehold toward cooperative conservation programs. State oil and gas producers have worked with the conservation group Center of Excellence to protect many of New Mexico’s unique species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently credited our efforts with saving the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard from being listed as an endangered species.

I’m incredibly proud of the important work my industry does to provide the economic benefits, essential fuels and environmental philanthropy that New Mexico deserves.

We are honest, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth people mostly working for small, independent companies in towns like Hobbs, Artesia, Roswell, Farmington and Bloomfield. We love this state and are honored to make such a large contribution to the Land of Enchantment.

When you read bombastic claims about oil and gas producers I trust you will be able to separate the good guys from those who have “no moral code of conduct.”

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