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Gov. Lujan Grisham vows to work with oil, gas industry during boom

Five months into her tenure as governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham vowed to continue to work with the oil and gas industry even as her administration rolled out an agenda to prioritize renewable energy amid a boom in oil and gas development in the southeast corner of the state.

She was joined by New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney and Sarah Cottrell Propst, cabinet secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department during a visit last Friday to Carlsbad.

All three officials explained their priorities in working with oil and gas, while also diversifying New Mexico’s energy economy.

Lujan Grisham pointed to the Energy Transition Act, a law she signed during the recent legislative session as evidence that her administration is committed to working with energy counties such as Eddy and Lea in the southeast and San Juan County in the northwest. The act called for New Mexico to completely convert to carbon-free electricity by 2045, but Lujan Grisham said PNM, the company that runs the San Juan Generating Station — a coal power plant near Farmington — could convert by 2040.

“The reason they can get it done, is because the entire country and the state has incredible investments in wind and solar,” she said. “Now we’re creating an ecosystem when we say we want every single productive job. But they’re energy jobs. Who knows more about energy jobs? The energy counties in the state of New Mexico.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks to community leaders during a visit to Carlsbad last week. (Current-Argus Photo)

She countered arguments that her administration favored renewable energy over fossil fuels by pointing to a recent announcement that oil giant ExxonMobil and Permian subsidiary XTO Energy plan to bring more than $64 billion in investments to New Mexico in the next 40 years.

She said long-term investments from the industry shows that oil and gas is confident Lujan Grisham is supportive of their continued presence among wind and solar industries.

“I think we can be a clean energy state. But we’re going to be an all-of-the-above energy economy,” she said:

Several oil and gas companies commended Lujan Grisham’s administration for working with them in creating beneficial regulations during and after the legislative session.

Lloyd Helms, COO of EOG Resources, a Houston-based oil and gas company said the administration successfully collaborated with oil and gas and encouraged long-term investments in New Mexico.

“We commend your leadership in creating a culture of collaboration for all stakeholders, including the oil and gas industry, in policy and regulatory discussions,” Helms wrote in a May 16 letter to Lujan Grisham.

Marathon Oil vice president Todd Abbott said the governor’s policy decisions prove a commitment to continued oil and gas production in the Permian. He pointed to the signing of the Produced Water Act during the session, commending the law for providing regulatory certainty for waste water created during hydraulic fracturing.

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