The Journal published a guest column Feb. 16 by oil executive George Sharpe that exemplifies a concept important for all to understand: gaslighting. The author attempts to gaslight me, my legislative colleagues and all New Mexicans. As a former executive director of an anti-domestic violence nonprofit, I am familiar with gaslighting tactics.
Gaslighting describes how an individual in a position of power lies to manipulate others. Gaslighters lie, exaggerate, threaten and repeat. They wear their victims down and try to make them believe that the lies are true to dominate and control.
The piece singles me out, even though Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, is a co-sponsor and other legislators have signed on to it. I am described as a representative; I am a senator. The author says he would have thought that someone as educated as I would understand his cited studies and his economic conclusions, implying that there is something wrong with my intellectual capacity. This is classic gaslighting: single out, isolate the victim and demean.
His first false claim is Senate Bill 459 is a “ban” on fracking. The bill is a four-year moratorium on issuing new permits for fracking. All existing permits will continue. The bill requires that relevant state agencies prepare reports on actual and potential impacts of hydraulic fracking on New Mexico’s land, water, air and public health. It requires agencies to propose appropriate regulations. The problem that this bill addresses is huge: the state of New Mexico currently lacks sufficient capacity to regulate and/or monitor the impacts of hydraulic fracking.
The author refers to a 2015 report by the EPA, claiming that the report finds that “groundwater is not inherently in danger from the fracking process. Just ask Obama.” In fact, the report states that “water might be particularly at risk (in areas where) water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing (occur) in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources.” This warning from the EPA is particularly relevant to water scarcity in New Mexico.