People from all walks of life throughout our wonderful state share deep love and affection for New Mexico, and we must not allow ourselves to be divided by political disagreements. No matter our political leanings, we all hope that those in government will take action that improves the state, particularly economically. Our state is in an economic crisis, and our leaders and lawmakers must put politics aside and work together to right this ship. In no industry is that economic leadership more important for New Mexico than the energy sector.
Unfortunately, anti-energy activists have in several recent cases demanded government intervention that predetermines market outcomes, irrespective of the desires of the consumer or the natural flow of the economy.
The first involves the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission as they finalize an oil and gas ordinance. Ultimately, the county commissioners will have the final say on implementing regulations that I pray will be responsible, business-friendly and respect the market.
Many southern Sandoval County residents have expressed hostility toward the energy industry, not fully understanding that it has served their county, and their state, for nearly 100 years. Northern Sandoval County is part of the San Juan Basin, which has been a major producer of oil and natural gas since the early 20th century and has fostered an industry that has enriched Sandoval County residents for decades. Together with the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico, the oil and gas industry has a long and prosperous history in our state.
Every city, county and school district has directly benefited from the tax revenue and the royalties paid by exploration and production. Anti-energy policies negatively affect the tax revenue our state receives and worsen our budget crisis, making it more difficult to fulfill important government responsibilities like education.
Sandoval County, and every county for that matter, should leave the enactment of oil and gas regulations solely with the state, as they have the staff, resources and expertise to oversee the industry. The best way to avoid jurisdictional confusion and regulatory redundancy is for county commissioners statewide to stop the ordinance process, as increased bureaucratic red tape will only raise costs for taxpayers while doing nothing to protect the environment.
The second recent issue is the U.S. Senate’s failure to repeal an Obama-era rule on methane emissions, an effort our Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich unsurprisingly led the fight against. The Bureau of Land Management rule imposes significant burdens on energy production on federal lands, hurting producers in New Mexico, many of whom hold leases on federal land, as the industry already suffers from low prices.
Udall and Heinrich both should better understand the industry upon which their state is so dependent. Our senators believe that producers are wasting resources by venting and flaring at the wellhead. This could not be further from the truth. Producers have any number of reasons for this procedure and would never knowingly waste the precious resources they work so hard to harvest. U.S. senators and BLM bureaucrats with no history of working in oil and gas cannot know what is best for the industry. Further, regulating the country’s air quality is not in BLM’s congressionally-given authority – that jurisdiction has been mandated by Congress to the Environmental Protection Agency. BLM has plainly exceeded its authority.
By protecting this rule, our senators have put New Mexican jobs at risk at a time when the industry, and our economy, needs our help. Our state cannot afford the constant demonization of reliable energy by our Senate leaders. Their actions are holding us back economically.
The energy sector is too important to New Mexico to stand by as bureaucrats and out-of-touch politicians embrace regulations that stifle local producers. We need strong leadership on energy issues that will improve our economy and increase state revenues. The love we share for our state demands no less.