A reminder of the deep ties between Trump, his racist funders, and the oil and gas industry as a whole.

Arch Republican and avowed racist Couy Griffin has been invited to meet with Trump tomorrow while the President is in Texas to discuss the oil and gas industry as it tries to recover from being an outdated and overly-bloated relic of the industrial past. What do all these things have in common? 

Well over the weekend Griffin, an elected official from Otero County and leader of the so-called “Cowboys for Trump” militia, recorded himself calling for all people of color to be dispelled from the United States and to “to go back to where (they) came from.” Meanwhile, Trump today is attempting to bypass the Supreme Court’s recent decision on DACA by directing his administration to not accept new applications for those eligible for the program. And like, you know, all the other racist stuff he’s done over the past few years… (well, his life really). 

The story that other media outlets have refused to cover for well over a year now is the well-documented connection between oil and gas lobby groups here in New Mexico and racist, specifically White Nationalists, groups at the national level. 

So while some racists like Griffin and Trump shout their hatred of BIPOC from whatever mountain top they can, the more insidious problem is where they’re getting their money from, groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and Power The Future, who together have spent millions of dollars to elect people like Griffin locally to support their industry with no accountability for their racist platform. We KNOW that NMOGA and PTF have also hired actual White Nationalists to manage their social media as well, through the guise of Harris Media in Texas, a PR firm that has been well documented in helping manage White Nationalist campaigns in Germany, Israel, and right here in the US. 

We also know that at the national level, Power the Future has members of its board with close ties to Trump’s official campaign with access to literally MILLIONS of dollars to fund astroturf campaigns like PTF in states like New Mexico. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve reported this but maybe while people are paying attention to the loud parts like Griffin yelling “go back to Africa” they can take the time to think about how all this is funded and works behind the scenes too. NMOGA and PTF aren’t operating in a vacuum, their membership includes groups like the City of Albuquerque and other municipalities in the state, so there are some direct ties to your tax dollars and how these racist groups are able to continue controlling government in the state of New Mexico.

Why New Mexico needs its own state methane rule now more than ever

You may have seen the news last night or this morning that a judge has reinstated Obama-era methane rules nationwide effective immediately. While this is a great win, it’s temporary given the decision will likely be appealed and the oil and gas industry’s challenge to the original 2016 rule in the District Court of Wyoming will be revived. 

At some point, we would love to see a strong, comprehensive federal methane regulation because air and climate pollution doesn’t stop at the state line, but for New Mexicans, there’s no time to waste. 

Under guidance from Governor Lujan Grisham’s 2019 Executive Order, state agencies have been hard at work to craft a rule that would apply to oil and gas companies in New Mexico that vent, flare, or otherwise leak methane. Methane emissions aren’t just about the greater impact of climate change (methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the near-term at trapping heat), but also affect the air we breathe. Oil and gas producing counties are dangerously close to exceeding federal clean air protections for smog, and those living closest to development are more at risk of exposure to hazardous air pollutants. 

One study found that this pollution was literally a matter of life and death to marginalized communities that live near active well zones. In a recent report from Energywire, there is a documented negative effect of rates of preterm birth among women in areas with concentrations of methane like the Permian or San Juan basins. 

“The authors said their findings ‘suggest the effects of flaring on the length of gestation are independent’ of other potential health risks tied to living near oil and gas wells.

What regulations? Oil and Gas Giants refuse to tell New Mexicans if they’re following federal health standards

An article from the past weekend from the Santa Fe New Mexican titled “Environmental groups worry EPA memo will lead to uptick in pollution” is worth taking a second look at for anyone paying attention to the oil and gas industry. 

For some context, the Trump Administration has offered the industry a get out of jail free card from  Environmental Protection Act enforcement during the COVID-19 crisis, essentially making decades of important health and safety rules moot. t’s not hard to assume that as soon as the overseeing agency says they’re not going to be checking up that the oil and gas industry will stop complying with our health-based clean air and water laws. 

According to the article from this weekend, that’s pretty much what’s happening. 

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Chevron, Veronica Flores-Paniagua, forwarded a blog post from the American Petroleum Institute, which had originally asked the EPA for the monitoring flexibility, that claimed the “temporary relief for non-essential compliance requirements” does not constitute a rollback of environmental enforcement. Julie King, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil, also said the energy company complies “with all laws, rules and regulations applicable to our business.” Neither said, however, whether the two companies would voluntarily continue to submit emissions reports or other previous environmental requirements that can be temporarily waived by the EPA. Right… So the spokespeople say they’re going to keep complying with EPA standards, but also won’t say if they’re going to submit the actual reports to prove that they are. What’s that old saying about trust but verify? 

And meanwhile the state’s three deep pocketed oil and gas front groups, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA), the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico (IPANM) and Power the Future are all lobbying for relaxed and delayed environmental protections as well. 

So what about the state’s ability to monitor these companies?

NEW NUMBERS SHOW THE TRUE SCALE OF NEW MEXICO’S GROWING FLARING PROBLEM

The oil and gas industry has a dirty, and not so little, secret. There’s a movement to convince the public that natural gas is “clean” but methane leaks from these drilling sites are a huge and growing contributor to climate change in New Mexico. 

Here’s a video of a wellhead “venting” methane, as well as benzene and frankly other unknown material, on land utilized by a rancher in Rio Arriba County.  It’s telling how much gas is being released by the sound, louder than the running diesel engine and wind combined. 

Courtesy of Don Schreiber

And that’s not all, the oil and gas industry is also burning off literally tons of methane every day, wasting YOUR money, that should be going toward YOUR schools.  One metric the amount of wasted natural gas from New Mexico is MORE THAN the total amount of natural gas needed to heat every single home in the state EVERY YEAR. This was recently reconfirmed in an industry article from  S&P. 

“New Mexico’s top 15 oil and gas producers accounted for 78% of the 100.3 MMcf/d of natural gas the state’s operators flared in 2018, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of data collected by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division. That year, the industry vented or flared enough gas to exceed the 94.4 MMcf/d consumed by the state’s 592,775 residential customers.”

In that article,  S&P created a chart showing the worst polluters (let’s not mince words here, that’s what they are). This data comes directly from the Oil Conservation Division. 

 Flared (January – June)Company20182019Devon2,207,7752,250,606XTO494,9481,541,514Marathon1,302,5791,470,907WPX685,5541,418,580Oxy516,4271,289,238Amerdev300,1281,064,029COG1,915,7701,042,110BOPCO297,487912,654

Let’s look at a few of these.

Happy Birthday New Mexico, you beautiful Capricorn you

New Mexico was admitted into the United States on January 6, 1912, to become the 47th state in the Union. We sure do love A LOT about living here, but we also see some places we can keep improving to make New Mexico that much better in the years to come! THINGS WE LOVE: I love our food, the deep culture, and above all the way we protect and lead in reproductive justice. New Mexico has been ahead of the curve in changing the paradigm around this, and other states actually defer to our methods/policies! ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Creating better access and equity of care in our mental health and recovery infrastructures. Developing and implementing sustainable programs and training for whole health, cultural competency, and epigenetic traumas for caregivers/providers.

Why you should care that New Mexico Oil & Gas is working with NAZIs

ProgressNow New Mexico has been working for the last few months to unravel the complicated ties that the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) has with numerous outside entities working to control the narrative around extraction in the state. We’ve found heaps of evidence to support our claims that NMOGA has evolved from just another industry advocate to fully trying to change the culture of New Mexico. We think it’s important you understand why this matters so here’s our quick rundown on everything you need to know. In 2017, NMOGA Executive Director Ryan Flynn gave a speech to members where he announced his intention to make NMOGA “the most powerful organization in the state of New Mexico.” Throughout the 2018 Legislative Session, we saw record amounts of spending from NMOGA to influence policy in that, the last year of Governor Susana Martinez’s last year in office.

Unmasking NMOGA’s ties to (EVEN MORE) national astroturf organizers

Happy Monday New Mexico. Do you have your Halloween costume picked out yet? Seems like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association does. They are dressing up as right wing attack dogs Power the Future this year.  

As you know, NMOGA is working directly with Power the Future, a Koch-funded lobby group that seems to spend the majority of its (vast) resources attacking clean energy policy around the country. New Mexico has become ground zero for PTF, going so far as to hire former Martinez-era talking head Larry Beherns to be their point person on the ground here.

New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and Power the Future: Working together? CONFIRMED!

It also appears that NMOGA is working with top-tier far-right digital consulting firm Harris Media 

ProgressNow New Mexico has come into possession of a PowerPoint presentation from 2018 that was prepared by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and seemingly presented by their Communications Director Robert McEntyre. 

It contains slides with then forthcoming plans to expand their digital and traditional media reach into New Mexico, but more significantly, it confirms that NMOGA planned and has continued to collaborate directly with out-of-state lobbying group, Power the Future. 

You can see the whole slideshow here:

You can clearly see on slide six, the final bullet point: “Coordinate allied groups and align strategies and messaging.”

Given the layout of the presentation, it then appears that none other than Power the Future founder Daniel Turner himself was present to give some portion of the presentation, as his name card and that of his organization are similarly presented on slides 32 and 33. For the record, we know Turner was in NM during the summer of 2018. He tweeted a video of himself with a billboard Power the Future apparently bought in Sandoval County. 

Daniel Turner on Twitter

Here in beautiful New Mexico to support energy workers! Don’t let radical environmentalists take away your jobs. @powerthefuture #EnergyDominance #EnergyWorkers More to come, Sandoval County!! https://t.co/yF102QFP8l

Turner is based in Washington DC and started Power the Future sometime at the end of 2017, beginning of 2018. According to articles about him, he comes from working directly with Koch Industries and before that the Bush administration (Bush 2). Turner is obviously vehemently a climate science denier, but also a pro-Trump nationalist who echoes a lot of jingoist mantras on Twitter.

It’s Always Susana in New Mexico (at least when it comes to oil and gas)

ProgressNow New Mexico has published a number of articles about the deep ties the oil and gas industry has with former Governor Susana Martinez’ administration. But when you stop and look at the makeup of top lobbying groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA), so-called Power the Future, and top lobbyists for other extraction industry titans, the numbers are truly stunning. At least nine top lobbyists currently working in the extraction industry (or lobbyist adjacent) came directly out of the Martinez administration. The big problem? New Mexico doesn’t have a law that requires a “cooling off” period for officials once they leave the public sector and return to private life.

Methane: What New Mexicans need to know

THE PROBLEM

New Mexico has a methane waste and pollution problem – it’s costing our schools millions in revenue, ruining our air and harming our climate for future generations. Methane is a powerful climate change pollutant responsible for 25 percent of the warming we experience today. It is also the primary component of natural gas and a valuable energy resource. Each year in New Mexico, oil and gas companies waste $275 million-worth of natural gas through venting, flaring, and leaks which costs the state over $40 million in royalty and tax revenue that could fund public education. Oil and gas operations also release ozone-forming pollutants that worsen respiratory diseases such as emphysema and trigger asthma attacks.