Establishment GOP and NMOGA are still arguing about the oil and gas industry’s role in the state; meanwhile, the state has moved on.

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A weeks-long battle continues to spill over into public spheres as Steve Pearce uses his seat as the Chair of the state Republican Party to hammer away at the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, specifically their Executive Director Ryan Flynn. The gist of the argument is that Flynn is doing exactly what he said he was going to do in 2017 by making his organization a relevant political force in the state politically and Pearce doesn’t like having competition. 

ProgressNow New Mexico has written extensively about Flynn’s statements and actions over the last few years and how scary it is for anyone who cares about actual democracy to see NMOGA and the companies they represent weighing in so heavily when it comes to state politics. It’s nothing new, but it’s just so blatant and out in the open now, as well as being paired with dangerous far-right ideology via the Trump-campaign machine via Power the Future and Harris Media running their social media. 

So on the surface, Pearce is right (gag) about NMOGA being so overtly political, but of course, we know Pearce is deeply tied to oil and gas both personally and professionally as well and that under his leadership the NM GOP has also become an utter cesspool of racist and jingoistic characters like Couy Griffin and Rep. Greg Nibert. 

The funniest thing about this argument at its core, however, is how utterly futile and useless it is. Oil and gas is on its way out in New Mexico and everyone seems to know it but them. That includes many of the industry giants that are members of NMOGA and use their wealth to dominate politics in New Mexico. 

Companies like BP and Chevron, amongst others, are increasingly making investments in the renewable energy sector both for their own operations and for their investors. As a quick disclaimer, we here at PNNM know that at their core these companies are still extractionists and exist to make money off a bad product in harmful ways, but the point stands that even knowing that these companies are making efforts to embrace the inevitable changes coming to global energy that people like Pearce and Flynn are not. 

BP has announced this week that they will be allowing 50,000 of their 70,000 employees to work remotely indefinitely as both a response to ongoing COVID 19 concerns, but also stating it’s part of an overall plan to reduce their carbon footprint by half by 2050. Additionally, BP has taken proactive steps to reduce methane emissions across their entire holdings and this week actively pushed back against the Trump rollback of the EPA’s methane standards. 

“Direct federal regulation of methane emissions is essential to preventing leaks throughout the industry and protecting the environment,” Lawler said. “We strongly believe that the best way to tackle this problem is through direct federal regulation, ensuring that everyone in the industry is doing everything they can to eliminate methane leaks.” 

Again, we know that in many ways these nominal efforts are for publicity, but at the end of the  day progress is progress and curbing methane emissions is the end goal to hopefully saving our environment. 

Similarly, Chevron, a company that we’ve actively flamed this year for meddling in our election process through BOTH Pearce back candidates and  NMOGA backed candidates, has also taken steps to curb methane emissions and reduce their overall carbon footprint. Chevron has been and continues to replace continuous-bleed pneumatic controllers along their lines with modern low-bleed or no-bleed controllers as well as reducing flaring and other wasteful practices. Shoot, even our newly proposed methane rule here in New Mexico doesn’t require those controllers to be retrofitted, but we think it should (cough cough, Sec. James Kenney, cough cough). Additionally, Chevron announced recently that it’s building 500MW of renewable energy plants to run their oil and gas production worldwide, with plans to expand that further. Like, the writing is on the walls, even oil and gas is using renewable energy to get the last bit of their old-world technology out of the ground before it’s totally useless. And you can bet they’ll sell or rent those renewable energy facilities down the line once they’re done using them too.

So Pearce and Flynn will probably keep poking at each other through the national election and into 2022 for the next state elections. That’s fine. Let them waste their energy (see what we did there?) while the world moves on from fossil fuels all together. New  Mexico is leading the way already with our Energy Transition Act being more fully implemented as of last month and with (hopefully) a better methane rule sometime soon. The dinosaurs of industry can go the way of, well, you know.