When oil and gas companies go unregulated, people die and families are dislocated

A month ago ProgressNow New Mexico published a blog about SB 186, a bill that would equip the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) with actual enforcement and punitive powers to enforce state regulations on oil and gas operators in the state. In that piece we highlighted how over the last decade the oil and gas industry has caused literally THOUSANDS of infractions but because of a legal loophole, OCD has not been able to fine those companies, leaving those companies with little motivation to adhere to the law. This isn’t just an academic issue. This is a real problem with real consequences for New Mexicans.  Today we want to look at some specific examples of where major failings have happened around the state that affected New Mexicans’ lives and where, if OCD were able to hold these companies accountable, disasters like this could be avoided.

One step closer to real energy independence​ in New Mexico

SB 489, the Energy Transition Act cleared its first hurdle this past Saturday as it passed out of the Senate Conservation Committee 5-3. ProgressNow New Mexico joins our robust coalition of statewide partners in thanking the committee for making this a priority for the state NOW and for the future of New Mexico. However, almost immediately after the bill passed from the committee, detractors of the bill continued to blanket media space with renewed attacks about this important legislation.  New Energy Economy sent out another misleading email about this landmark bill. NEE stated, “SB 489 does NOT close the plant.

Raising the royalty cap for our oil and gas is REALLY important for New Mexico

With less than a week to go until the 2019 Legislative session there’s already been a lot of exciting movement from New Mexico’s new (mostly) progressive majority at the state level. Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard made a big splash today with an Executive Order banning wildlife killing contests on state lands. That’s pretty great news! But Garcia Richard made
another announcement this week that we’re excited about as well: A
planned bill to increase the cap on royalties paid from oil and gas companies
from wells on state lands from 20 percent to 25 percent. What does that mean?

Sen Domenici returns to lobby Congress, Trump to transfer public lands to big oil through Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn

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.

Thousands in NM immigrant community demand clean energy & green jobs from Gov. Martinez

Last week immigrant community members throughout New Mexico came together and submitted over 2,400 petitions to Gov. Martinez demanding she take action to protect the health and well being of their communities and increase renewable energy output in the state. The petition gathering was organized by Juntos: Our Air Our Water — a project of Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund — which organizes Latino communities to protect air and water and advocate for clean energy. From the Los Alamos Daily Post (emphasis added):
The petition gathering started early September after Juntos had conducted a survey, October 2015 through February 2016, which demonstrated that 89 percent of the surveyed families – mostly from the Latin immigrant community – expressed that their number one concern was the air quality and air pollution levels found in their communities. […]

The petitions recently turned in demand that the Martínez administration implement a strong plan to help our state transition to clean, renewable energy – specifically wind and solar energy – and creates more “green jobs”. Investments in renewable energy are investments in healthy families, and yet the Martinez administration continues to invest in dirty energy, despite its impact on New Mexicans’ air, land, water and health.

You wont’ believe what NM oil and gas companies want do to with $104 million in NM taxpayer subsidies

On Friday afternoon, the federal government will stop taking comments on the President’s proposed rule to require oil and gas drillers working on public lands to plug leaks, limit the release of noxious global warming gases and increase royalty payments to local schools across the West – but not before oil and gas companies turn in thousands of comments opposing it. New Mexico’s biggest oil and gas producers have turned out employees and distributed petitions claiming that proposed methane rules will kill thousands of jobs in local communities. You can watch KOB-TV’s very one-sided story featuring these “stop the destruction of 9,000 jobs” petitions online:
They are new rules intended to help the energy industry and the environment, but opponents say they will end up costing thousands of jobs. That’s why one group is working to collect signatures to send to Washington showing opposition to Bureau of Land Management rule changes for venting and flaring by residents. Source: Four Corners residents petition Washington on BLM flaring rules
The don’t have any actual data to back that up nor do they mention that “New Mexico taxpayers contribute $104 million per year in subsidies to the oil and gas industry — or $285,000 per day.”