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Editorial: Governor’s energy plan is excellent future blueprint

New Mexico has a wealth of energy resources. And now it has a comprehensive plan to help guide development of those riches to grow the state’s economy.

Last week at the 2015 Southeastern New Mexico Mayor’s Energy Summit in Carlsbad, Gov. Susana Martinez laid out a broad “all of the above” energy policy. “There is no reason we shouldn’t be an energy leader,” she later told attendees at the eighth annual Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces.

Her plan embraces a wide range of energy sources, ranging from oil and gas to solar, wind and up-and-coming technologies, such as “small modular reactors,” which must still be approved by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

While the oil and gas industry has been – and still is – the backbone of the state’s energy economy (accounting for more than a billion dollars in revenues to the state each year), it’s clear there is plenty of opportunity for the growing renewable energy sector given New Mexico’s abundant sunshine, miles of windswept open spaces and nuclear experience and expertise.

One of the keys is development of more infrastructure – electricity transmission lines to move power generated by wind and solar, and new refineries and improved roads, rail and pipelines to transport resources in and out of the energy-producing areas in the southeastern and northwestern parts of the state.

It also proposes deployment of new battery storage technologies and exporting coal as utilities start using less of that resource as a result of agreements with the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

Producers should welcome a promised streamlining of the regulatory process and more emphasis on workforce training for energy-related jobs. Taxpayers, consumers and ratepayers should welcome a diversified energy portfolio. Most importantly, the governor’s broad and balanced plan realistically emphasizes “low carbon” sources while recognizing fossil fuels are still an important piece of the energy picture.

While there will certainly be questions, debate and pushback, the governor has done an important service by putting a comprehensive document out there as a starting point.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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