Chamber president: Oil and gas leasing, permitting moratoriums could hurt many businesses - Albuquerque Journal

Chamber president: Oil and gas leasing, permitting moratoriums could hurt many businesses

AZTEC — The San Juan Basin has gone through booms and busts before, but Jamie Church, the president and CEO of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce, said a federal moratorium on new oil and gas leases and on permitting would be different than any bust the region has seen in the past.

Church sent a letter to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on behalf of the chamber asking the governor to speak up against a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands that was instituted by President Joe Biden.

Church said there were some operations planned for the basin that needed to go through permitting, but a 60-day moratorium on permitting led them to pursue options in Texas instead. Texas has significantly less federal land, which is the kind impacted by the moratoriums.

Church said past busts haven’t been accompanied by the same political movement away from fossil fuels. As an example, she highlighted the Energy Transition Act that was passed in 2019 to increase renewable portfolio standards and provide a mechanism to refinance past investments into coal-fired power plants as utilities exit their ownership in those plants.

“The whole outlook on the national level is changing,” Church said.

Proponents of these actions highlight the changing climate, which is leading to increased drought and wildfires as well as extreme weather. They say these actions are necessary to reduce emissions and reduce some of the impacts of climate change. The moratoriums will also give the federal government an opportunity to review existing leasing and permitting processes.

Church said the actions could destroy Farmington’s economy by taking away one of the major economic sectors when there is nothing that can really replace it.

The Farmington Chamber of Commerce is part of the efforts to diversify the economy, including promoting tourism and outdoor recreation and trying to attract retirees to move to the area.

“These things take time and basically 2020 was a complete pause on all of those efforts,” she said.

These efforts were gaining momentum in 2019. She highlighted the opening of Bisti Bay Water Park and the types of shows that were being put on at the Farmington Civic Center. Then, in March 2020, the coronavirus reached New Mexico and everything came to a halt.

“It’s going to take time now to build that momentum again,” Church said.

She said she isn’t saying that any one of those efforts is going to replace the oil and gas industry in the San Juan Basin.

“We still need oil and gas. We know that that is a very important piece of the economy,” she said. “We need the outdoor recreation industry. We need film. We need retirement. All those things will help us to diversify our economy, but to pull one large piece of that away before all these other things have had a chance to really build, it just doesn’t help our chamber members, our businesses, our local economy, our community.”

In the letter, she highlights that San Juan County has seen a 10% reduction in population in the last decade and that this ban on new leases as well as a 60-day moratorium on permitting comes as the region is preparing for the economic impacts that will occur if the San Juan Generating Station closes in 2022. At the same time, San Juan County has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses are still trying to recover from the business restrictions implemented to reduce spread of the virus.

Church said not issuing new leases on federal lands and the moratorium on permitting will have ripple effects in the local economy, impacting restaurants, hotels, retail and other sectors.

“We know that our businesses depend on oil and gas operations,” she said.

Additionally, Church highlighted that a large portion of New Mexico’s revenues come from oil and gas. She said the chamber would like to hear from the governor about how the state could make up for a shortfall resulting from the moratorium.

Church expressed support for the solar projects that are in the works for San Juan County and said Photosol US is one of the chamber members. Photosol has three solar projects at different stages of development in San Juan County. However, she said the solar arrays will not generate many long-term jobs.

Church said the chamber board approved the letter and she sent the letter to the governor so that the chamber can have a voice in decisions that are being made.

“Farmington Chamber of Commerce is doing its best to advocate for the businesses in our community every single day,” she said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e

This article originally appeared on Farmington Daily Times: Chamber president: Oil and gas leasing, permitting moratoriums could hurt many businesses

___

(c)2021 The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.)

Visit The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.) at www.daily-times.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Home » Business » Most Recent Biz News » Chamber president: Oil and gas leasing, permitting moratoriums could hurt many businesses


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
Retired teachers can now return to classroom, keep their ...
ABQnews Seeker
State hopes new measures will combat ... State hopes new measures will combat shortage
2
Rockets away in New Mexico
ABQnews Seeker
Teams from around the globe gather ... Teams from around the globe gather to compete in the Spaceport America Cup
3
One of ABQ’s newest speed cameras stolen off its ...
ABQnews Seeker
Just over two weeks after the ... Just over two weeks after the city's mobile speed enforcement device on Lead at Cornell started issuing tickets, vandals removed the camera box
4
Aide: Trump dismissed Jan. 6 threats, wanted to join ...
Nation
Donald Trump rebuffed his own security's ... Donald Trump rebuffed his own security's warnings about armed protesters in the Jan. 6 rally crowd and made desperate attempts to join his supporters ...
5
Details emerge in Sunday's deadly shootings
ABQnews Seeker
Video footage and medical evidence shed ... Video footage and medical evidence shed more light on the tragedy
6
NM primary election results certified as November election looms
2022 election
New Mexico closed the books — ... New Mexico closed the books — for the most part — on a primary election cycle marked by conspiracy theories and legal warnings, as ...
7
APD creates unit to target road rage, aggressive driving
ABQnews Seeker
Public will be able to upload ... Public will be able to upload evidence to new video portal
8
Albuquerque redistricting committee to take final vote
ABQnews Seeker
City Council undergoes realignment after each ... City Council undergoes realignment after each census
9
Four charged in 2020 ABQ homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Suspects arrested on a variety of ... Suspects arrested on a variety of charges, including murder and arson
10
Teen charged in shooting threat at Edgewood school
ABQnews Seeker
A 17-year-old allegedly threatened to shoot ... A 17-year-old allegedly threatened to shoot up a school earlier this month in Edgewood. State Police spokeswoman Candace Hopkins said Emma Haviland, of Edgewood, ...