These oil and gas jobs are clean (and growing in New Mexico!)

Companies capturing stopping leaks of Methane and other greenhouse and polluting gases at oil and gas drilling sites are expanding rapidly in New Mexico a new report shows. From the Public News Service – NM:
While cleaner air is good news for the environment in New Mexico, it might be just as big a boon to the job market, since these companies are hiring workers to perform methane mitigation. The report showed at least 60 mitigation companies working in 45 states. Marcy Lowe, chief executive of Datu Research, a group related to Duke University that published the report, explained why it’s important to stop these leaks. “Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas,” she said.

PNM looks to close coal-fired San Juan plant (if they get a rate increase from the PRC)

Santa Fe, NM –  PNM is beginning the process to plan for a permanent shutdown of the coal-fired San Juan Generation Station by 2022. The SJGS is responsible for generating nearly 60% of the state’s power, but it relies on coal power and a nearby coal mine PNM purchased last year to support it. PNM proposed two scenarios for future power production: one to keep the plant in operation after 2022, the other to close it and shift to a larger renewable portfolio.  But, PNM added a catch: the scenarios supporting closing the plant are tied to PNM’s latest rate increase request to the PRC which asks for electricity rates to increase by as much as 14% for New Mexico customers. “I want to stress that is only a preliminary finding regarding our San Juan Generating Station,” Vincent-Collawn told the Albuquerque Journal.

Methane actions front and center at State Legislature

Today at the Roundhouse, lawmakers, environmental experts, and a local ranchers held a press conference on the Obama-era methane rule and Gov. Susana Martinez’s efforts to roll back the rule in New Mexico.Watch the event from our Facebook Live feed:

Speakers included:

Speaker Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe)
Sen. Benny Shendo Jr. (D-Jemez Pueblo)
Rep. Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque)
along with Jon Goldstein of the Environmental Defense Fund,
Don Schreiber, a Rio Arriba County rancher and gas lease land holder
and Patrick von Bargen of the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions. Following the press conference, a crowd of concerned citizens – including members of Conservation Voters NM, The Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter and ProgressNowNM – marched up to the fourth floor and hand-delivered petitions to the Governor’s office to tell her that New Mexico needs the methane rule, and ProgressNow New Mexico was there to capture all of the action. The methane rule is a regulation implemented by the Bureau of Land Management that requires oil and natural gas producers to fix leaks and update equipment to prevent methane from flaring into the atmosphere. Read more: What is the Methane Rule? Last month, however, Gov. Martinez wrote a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan to urge Congress to repeal the rule.

House Republicans Stop Solar Tax Credits, Jobs in Committee

From KRWG, Las Cruces: 

 House Republicans Wednesday voted against House Bill 193 in the House Business and Industry committee along a partisan 5-5 vote. HB 193 would have made permanent and expanded New Mexico’s investment in solar energy, creating jobs and diversifying the state’s economy at a time when its over reliance on oil and gas has left us in a deep financial crisis.  Sponsored by Representative Daymon Ely (D-Corrales), HB 193 made permanent the Solar Market Development Tax Credits as well as offering them to both private individuals, low income families as well as commercial businesses. “Never has our state had such a huge need to diversify its economy and to create jobs in industries that are immune to cuts in the federal budget or swings in the price of oil and natural gas,” said Representative Ely. “At a time when New Mexicans are wondering why we aren’t the solar capital of the world, it is really disappointing to see my colleagues across the aisle fail to recognize the job creating potential of solar energy.”

House Bill 193 would have increased the solar tax credit from 10% to 15% of the cost of purchase and installation for families making less than $43,871 per year. The new “solar market development corporate income tax credit” would’ve allowed businesses to claim 10% of the purchase and installation cost of a solar energy system. Currently, there are 96 solar companies who call New Mexico home that employs around 2,000 individuals.

Love (and Methane) is in the Air for Gov. Martinez

Governor Susana Martinez is in love. In love with oil and gas companies, that is. A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Martinez wrote a letter to U.S Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, urging Congress to repeal the “methane rule.”

She was referring, of course, to the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane and Waste Reduction Rule, which seeks to “reduce the waste of natural gas from flaring, venting, and leaks from oil and gas production on public and Indian lands.”

This is alarming for a number of reasons, including the fact that three years ago NASA discovered a methane spot the size of Delaware hovering above the San Juan Basin in northwestern New Mexico, home to tens of thousands of oil and gas wells. Martinez’s motives for doing this make no sense. The methane rule is a common sense regulation that protects the environment from careless oil and gas companies.

Watch: Udall, Heinrich grill Trump appointees on climate change, torture, surveillance & Russia

Both of New Mexico’s United States Senators are in a front-and-center role in the work to vet President-elect Trump’s nominees to head our country’s federal agencies. Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Tom Udall pressed the former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson about his position on climate change and whether he will continue his relationship with ExxonMobil if he is confirmed as the nation’s top diplomat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CidK1jgfr00&feature=youtu.be

In the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) questioned President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense Retired General James Mattis. Heinrich asked Mattis about the key threats to the security of the United States. Mattis replied, “I would consider the principle threats to start with Russia.”

A Recap – Progressive Action Summit 2017

Red River, and Raton, and Farmington, and Hobbs, oh my! People came from near and far on January 7th, for ProgressNow NM’s first ever, Progressive Action Summit. The Summit was a jam packed day of exactly that – action. If you weren’t able to be with us, you might be wondering what happened:

22 Community Organizations: delivered presentations, workshops or panels, concerning and or addressing current and or proposed legislation, while gathering awareness and support around their issue. 22 Elected Officials: gave time out of their day to participate, present, engage with and respond to citizens and leaders from our communities.

New: Gov’s new energy secretary is an oil executive. His company is one of her top donors.

Governor Martinez has appointed a former oil and gas company executive and top donor to her campaigns, PACs and Republican causes as the State’s new secretary of energy, minerals and natural resources department. Ken McQueen is the former Vice-President of WPX energy’s San Juan-area operations for the Oklahoma-based fossil fuel company, according to his LinkedIn profile. Public campaign finance records show that Martinez and WPX have a close relationship.  The company has been one of the most consistent and largest donors to her campaigns, her PACs and campaigns of her legislative allies in Santa Fe. $10,000 to Advance New Mexico NOW PAC, Nov.