In August, Republican Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced his plan to ask the federal government to turn over “upwards of 6.5 millions acres” of “unleased federal subsurface mineral acreage” (ie, federal public lands) and federal mining leases to him. “Any and all unleased land… would then be leased out by the State Land Office” for new oil and gas permits, Dunn said. At the time, he had a big problem: a Democratic president who favors more public lands. But with Donald Trump in the White House, Tea Party leaders in Congress see a new opportunity to transfer our public lands to private hands – and apparently so does Aubrey Dunn.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Donald Trump will name Oklahoma’s climate-denying, Big Oil attorney general to head the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s been an architect of a plan by conservative attorneys generals suing to undo the very agency Trump has now proposed him to lead and public records show that he allowed Republican donors and big oil executives to write climate policies for his office. Way back in 2011, industry lobbyists hailed new New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez for introducing new new dairy rules rolling back Gov. Richardson’s environmental protection rules. Those rules protected drinking water and nearby streams from being infected with manure and urine waste from nearby dairies but required environmental protections dairies opposed paying for. Months later, public records requests showed that dairy industry lobbyists who had funded her campaign wrote those rules introduced under Martinez’s name.
Mining sinkhole leaks radioactive water into FL aquifer; Now seeking discharge permit over NM aquifer
One day after the state’s Environment Department announced that Mosaic mining company was seeking a permit to discharge 7,500,000 gallons of mining waste water into the ground in Eddy County, the company noticed that it was missing millions of gallons of radioactive wastewater from another facility. They found it in a drinking water aquifer in central Florida. Though they knew the radioactive and acidic water was draining uncontrollably, neither the company nor Florida’s environment department, under Republican Governor Rick Scott, notified the public for three weeks. 9 company sites mishandle wastewater; $2 billion in cleanup costs (so far)
Florida’s WFLA reports:
Massive sinkhole drains contaminated water into Floridan aquifer
POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A massive sinkhole on top of a Mosaic gypsum stack near Mulberry allowed millions of gallons of contaminated water to flow into the Floridan Aquifer…
GOP Land Commish says oil companies “too poor” to pay rent, but their CEOs fund $500,000 in new attack ads against Dems
The Oil and Gas industry says they can’t afford to keep paying their rent to New Mexico because of the drop in energy prices so Republican State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn directed his office on Monday to allow companies to skip paying the rent they owe the state to lease public land for drilling. “The beneficiaries of state trust lands — mainly the public schoolchildren of New Mexico — will be better served if wells are temporarily shut in, rather than producing at a lower price,” Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn told KOB. Hold on there Mr. Dunn: aren’t those big oil and gas companies shelling out HUGE amounts of political donations to bankroll negative attack ads against Democrats around the state? According to FollowTheMoney.org, Big Oil has contributed $942,495 to candidates directly in New Mexico so far this year (again, just for candidates).
And Republicans have received the lion’s share of Big Oil money in 2016, no surprise.
New Mexico’s largest utility announced that it has shelved plans for a new $100 million pipeline and natural gas plant project in San Juan County near the Navajo Reservation. PNM’s gas plan met the fiercest resistance from the advocacy organization New Energy Economy, which accused the utility of proposing an unnecessary project to justify increasing customer rates and the company’s profits. “We are thrilled that PNM is dismissing their gas plant and gas pipeline case,” said Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy’s executive director, in a statement. “Consumer demand is actually going down, but despite this, PNM thought they could get away with even more bloat: $100 million for a superfluous gas plant and gas pipeline just to line the pockets of PNM’s senior management off the misery of the poor.” – Albuquerque Journal
That news comes as Native Americans enter a new month of protests against a North Dakota pipeline proposal that has gained national attention. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported last week that PNM had withdrawn its request to the state’s Public Regulation Commission because projections for new energy needs have been revised downward.