Unsung energy hero NM is worth protecting - Albuquerque Journal

Unsung energy hero NM is worth protecting

President-elect Joe Biden and the transition team have unveiled their day one plan to ‘Build Back Better’ with a focus on climate change. But is it possible to do that, build back better, by hampering economic activity and our nation’s energy security? New Mexicans have more than enough reason to be skeptical.

Quietly, New Mexico has become a major component of the American energy success story. However, the lion’s share of praise is reserved for legacy energy players like Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio. New Mexico deserves the attention and investment that has brought added success to the aforementioned states. Doing so will improve American energy resiliency and self-sufficiency while rewarding consumers nationwide.

Unfortunately, what this latest election cycle – in both state and federal races – has shown energy onlookers is that untenable and counterproductive energy policies have joined the ranks of political correctness at the expense of sound economic policy. Good energy politics does not equal good energy policy.

The Biden campaign and the president-elect himself carried much of this shift by rolling out a trillion-dollar climate plan light on details and heavy on pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. The same shift benefited from the popularized Green New Deal and hyperbolic climate-change rhetoric.

While dodging questions about a full-on hydraulic fracking ban, Joe Biden has pledged to prohibit federal leasing operations, a practice of the government auctioning leases for federal land to produce oil and natural gas. Executive authority doesn’t permit an outright ban of fracking on private lands, but Biden seems comfortable using the full weight of the Oval Office where authority is granted.

For producers and voters this should prompt some thinking: If President Biden would use the full extent of his authority to stop fracking where allowed, what would keep the administration from seeking out regulations and agency rulemaking to stifle development on lands outside his reach?

These concerns compounded during the final presidential debate when Biden said the quiet part aloud by promising to transition the country away from oil and fossil fuel industries. Most energy analysts recognize that a transition is underway, and the Biden administration can set the tone by making pragmatic policy choices.

In New Mexico, the federal government owns more than a third of the land, meaning a federal leasing ban alone would gut the state’s energy industry and accompanying benefits. Predictably, these federal lands have been key to New Mexico’s energy rise.

According to the Energy Information Administration, in a span of five years New Mexico grew from the seventh- to third-largest oil-producing state in the union. Similarly, New Mexico is eighth in natural gas production. Accessible natural gas makes it affordable, and households are reaping the benefits; residential natural gas prices are 40% below the national average.

Omitted from any discussion of federal leasing bans or transitioning away from fossil fuels is consideration or resolution for the immense tax revenue hole that would be left in state budgets like New Mexico’s.

Without oil and natural gas operations, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Santa Fe legislators would be out $3.1 billion, according to 2019 statistics. Energy sector-related tax revenues have totaled nearly $20 billion and consistency provided over 30% of the annual state budget since 2010.

Are our politicians in Washington comfortable hamstringing states knowing that education, infrastructure and health care facilities will suffer? And what about private citizens?

An industry study showed a federal leasing ban to endanger more than 60,000 jobs in New Mexico. New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Executive Director Ryan Flynn summarized it well: “New Mexico has enjoyed economic success in recent years because of investments and responsible development on federally managed lands, but changing course now will only ensure that jobs and capital stops at our state border. With vast stretches of public land, it is simply impossible to divorce our economic success from land management policy in western states like New Mexico and funding for education, access to health care and new infrastructure are all on the line as a result.”

The outright prohibition of entire swaths of energy production, or shooting for its legs by banning federal leasing, is a dangerous stance to take. America has built much of its recent economic success on the back of an independent energy industry that begets capital investment and improves national security. Washing away a comparative advantage like energy is a direct path to stunting the economy and hurting consumers. New Mexicans will be the first hurt if natural gas and oil become targets.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Unsung energy hero NM is worth protecting


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
NM's methane rule unfair on low-producing wells
From the newspaper
Family operators will have to cap ... Family operators will have to cap hundreds of low-emitting sites early
2
Editorial: Vo-tech, welfare reform can fix our dismal worker ...
Editorials
New Mexico is in an economic ... New Mexico is in an economic rut.    It's not due to a shortage of jobs. More t ...
3
Our military veterans deserve a leg up into federal ...
From the newspaper
Let's make the most of their ... Let's make the most of their valuable skills, perspective and diversity
4
Congress invests in science and technology of future
From the newspaper
As the final days of summer ... As the final days of summer wean off their last few minutes of sunlight, kids revive their calculato ...
5
Tips to start coming back from the pandemic's isolation
From the newspaper
Wondering about the social effects of ... Wondering about the social effects of COVID-19 restrictions such as limiting gatherings, orders clos ...
6
Ethics questioned as cannabis regulators join the private sector
ABQnews Seeker
Some are unsure if the state's ... Some are unsure if the state's 'revolving door' policy indeed curbs conflicts of interest
7
County's cool with casitas
ABQnews Seeker
Bernalillo County is ready for a ... Bernalillo County is ready for a new kind of tiny home. Meanwhile, county voters in November will have their say on $40.5M worth of ...
8
Couy Griffin back in court to fight for his ...
ABQnews Seeker
Lawsuit contends that his role on ... Lawsuit contends that his role on Jan. 6 violated the 14th Amendment
9
Ojibwe artist Patrick Collins uses painting to find himself ...
Arts
Patrick Collins will be showing his ... Patrick Collins will be showing his work at the Santa Fe Indian Market.