Hydrogen can deliver good jobs and climate solutions for NM - Albuquerque Journal

Hydrogen can deliver good jobs and climate solutions for NM

Last Sunday, New Mexico House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, a former energy executive, complained in a guest column in this paper that the hydrogen hub bill I sponsored in the last legislative session had “no measurable environmental benefit.” When did Townsend, R-Artesia, become so concerned about climate change?

Setting aside how disingenuous Townsend’s argument may be, it is also incredibly short-sighted and factually incorrect. Hydrogen offers tremendous environmental and economic potential to the people of New Mexico. My hope is we can harness that power for good, but reimagining New Mexico’s energy future is going to require looking beyond our own noses.

The bill I introduced last session would have offered incentives to producers of clean hydrogen energy, capitalizing on our state’s existing energy infrastructure in order to help us position ourselves as leaders in this burgeoning field, and ensuring that our transition to clean energy brings all New Mexicans along. These are worthy and necessary goals, ones I will keep fighting for as long as I am entrusted to represent the people of House District 9.

My top priorities as a state representative from Gallup have always been creating and protecting jobs and economic opportunity for the people of my community. Like Townsend, I understand the important role our energy sector plays in our state. For generations, people in my northwest New Mexico district have supported their families with good-paying jobs in the oil and gas sector. Unlike Townsend, I have long accepted the reality climate change is real and must be addressed.

We don’t have to look far to see the impacts of climate change – droughts, floods and record-setting wildfires make it clear failing to act could have catastrophic effects in New Mexico. But finding the most effective solutions to these challenges requires us to be more farsighted. If we play our cards right, investing in hydrogen energy production can help us meet our climate goals while also creating and protecting good-paying jobs for New Mexicans.

We can and must protect our environment and our economy at the same time. Townsend can attempt to dismiss this reality as a “fairy tale,” but I am confident New Mexicans see through his shifting arguments for inaction. I am committed to continuing to push for a brighter economic and environmental future for my community and our entire state, and I hope other lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, will join me.

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