Torres Small opposes AOC fracking ban bill

New Mexico Democratic Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small and conservative energy advocacy group Power the Future find themselves on the same side when it comes to New York Congresswoman’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bill to ban fracking nationwide.

They’re against it.

Torres Small – who represents the area of the state experiencing a record breaking oil boom – said she has been “consistently opposed a fracking ban because if we shut down oil and gas drilling in New Mexico today, we’d have to shut down our schools tomorrow.”

“I will continue to support responsible energy production in the district, including one of the country’s largest sources of oil and gas in the Permian Basin,” she said.

Larry Behrens, western states director for Power the Future, said the state’s energy workers use fracking to produce over 100,000 jobs and billions to the economy.

“The fact that a socialist representative from New York wants to destroy our economy deserves nothing but condemnation from New Mexico’s elected representatives,” he said.

State revenue from oil and gas activity soared to a record $3.1 billion in fiscal 2019, up 41% from the $2.2 billion generated the year before, according to the latest annual report from the New Mexico Tax Research Institute. Taxes and royalties from the oil and gas industry now make up more than 40% of the state’s total revenue base.

Ocasio-Cortez’s bill – a companion to legislation sponsored by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – would ban fracking across the nation by 2025. The legislation would also prohibit fracking within 2,500 feet of homes and schools by February 2021. It also would provide a transition for working families in the fracking industry.

JOB FAIR FOR PLANT WORKERS: Torres Small and New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions organized a resource fair tailored to the more than 100 employees of Escalante Power Station in Prewitt.

The fair was organized in response to news that Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association would close three coal facilities, including the Escalante Power Station, by the end of 2020.

Fifteen employers and several service providers met with active job seekers about potential job openings, eligible skills trainings and additional support available.

“Losing jobs in rural communities is both a personal crisis and a crisis for the community,” Torres Small said.

TARGETING HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., hosted Human Trafficking Awareness workshops at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia and at Hobbs City Hall last week to bring together the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to work with local law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations.

“My hope is that these workshops can help us learn from federal experts and from each other about what tools are effective and what else we should be doing to end human trafficking,” the senator said.

Heinrich is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2020, which would prevent the human trafficking and exploitation of children by providing grants critical for training students, parents, teachers, and school personnel to understand, recognize, prevent, and respond to signs of human trafficking.

Scott Turner: sturner@abqjournal.com

 

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