The recent calls from Democratic presidential candidates for a total ban on oil and gas leasing on federal lands would be a death knell for New Mexico’s efforts to diversify its energy production and achieve its carbon-free targets by 2045.
Fortunately, New Mexico has already made strides to diversify its energy sources. The Energy Transition Act contains one of the country’s most ambitious renewable energy and zero-carbon electricity standards in the U.S. As part of it, the state’s energy regulators are charting the course for the closure of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station signaling the beginning of the end of the state’s reliance on coal, which has historically counted for up to 30% of the state’s energy consumption.
Considering renewable energy only makes up less than 10 percent of New Mexico’s overall energy consumption, it’s unrealistic to think we can curtail our reliance on traditional fuel anytime soon; meaning, a total green-energy transition is far into the future. In the meantime, it’s critical that we continue to develop our natural gas resources and its accompanying infrastructure. These critical funds that make up more than 30 percent of the state’s budget go towards health, education, and other social programs. Even the Governor has said she would advocate for New Mexicans to Democratic presidential hopefuls on the need for balance.
And balanced energy policy that can shepherd environmental progress while developing our energy resources is just what we need if we want to achieve New Mexico’s green energy targets.