An updated Renewable Portfolio Standard is key to moving Farmington, and New Mexico, forward

This is the third in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington, New Mexico, and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. In today’s piece, we’ll be looking at complementary legislation that needs to be implemented in the state to ensure areas like Farmington can continue to thrive well into the future. Last week we looked specifically at how securitization could help PNM recoup its costs as it transitions from coal-generated power to renewable sources, while also helping the Four Corners area transition to a new and more diverse economy. The second part of that prospect though is ensuring that utilities like PNM actually DO get their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by legislating what is known as a “Renewable Portfolio Standard,” which spells out exactly how much energy must be derived from renewable sources and by when. A quick aside here on language for this piece: Renewable energy in the broad sense is energy created from clean sources like solar or wind as opposed to energy from fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, or oil.

Securitization: What it means for Farmington, PNM, and New Mexico

This is the second in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington, New Mexico, and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. Last week we looked at how Farmington and surrounding areas are facing real-time issues when it comes to their future. The San Juan Generating Plant is scheduled to close in just the next few years, which will likely mean a loss of jobs for many workers there. That, of course, will impact the economy of the whole region.

Pearce hypocrisy: Toll roads good, methane controls bad

This week, Rep. Steve Pearce proposed toll roads as the answer to the massive amounts of traffic on Southeastern New Mexico highways due to the boom in oil production and the corresponding increase in oil traffic. The increased congestion along highway 285 outside of Lovington has given it the dubious nickname “highway of death.” The idea is that new and improved roads be paid for by the oil and gas companies who so heavily utilize the roads. 
But Congressman Pearce is fighting tooth and nail to overturn methane waste rules that ask these some companies to pay for the millions of tons of New Mexico’s natural gas they waste every year – rules that would mean millions in additional state revenue for things like these very roads. everyone would have to pay the tolls. 
Residents in New Mexico’s oil patch already pay a high price because of where they live and the associated oil and gas industry impacts. Increased pollution leading to higher rates of asthma and other respiratory issues and the associated healthcare costs that accompany that.

As Farmington goes, so goes New Mexico: A look at the changing landscape of our state

This is the first in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington New Mexico and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. Farmington has always been a crossroads of sorts, situated uniquely at the confluence of three rivers and in modern times, highways and railroads. But as we move into the third decade of the twenty-first century, Farmington and other cities in the tri-county area of northwest New Mexico will be facing major changes as coal is phased out. No matter what the Trump administration says, or any campaign stumps from politicians like Steve Pearce promise, coal has seen its heyday and it’s never going to be a reliable commodity to build an industry on again.

Rep. Steve Pearce is STILL pushing to make drilling EASIER for Big Oil, and Gov. Martinez has his back

With the humanitarian crises on the border dominating headlines the past few weeks and this week’s massive Supreme Court news, it’s easy to forget there are still other matters being decided in the halls of Congress that affect Americans everyday lives. Congressman Steve Pearce is pushing through two bills RIGHT NOW that would do away with important management and oversight of the Bureau of Land Management when it comes to issuing permits for drilling oil wells on public lands. 

Pearce, himself a millionaire oilman, of course, claims this is about “cutting red tape” but considering he’s running for governor this year it sure seems like he’s trying to do his buddies in the Permian Basin a huge favor while he’s still on Capitol Hill. But even as governor Pearce could still make it easier for oil and gas companies at the expense of our public lands, our environment, and even if practical policies that would actually net oil and gas companies more revenue like fixing the Methane Rule. 

Just look at Governor Susana Martinez’ role with oil and gas over the last eight years. And in the midst of everything that is happening, Martinez not only wrote a letter earlier in the year that encouraged the feds to support the undoing of the permitting process but actually traveled to Washington DC earlier this month and testified IN SUPPORT of Pearce’s bills. 

Well, we’re not going to let Pearce’s or Martinez’ attempts to undermine our public lands and our natural resources without saying something. That’s why we’ve launched these digital ads to help spread awareness of what’s happening.

[BREAKING] Gov. Martinez leading charge to make it EASIER for oil & gas to drill in NM, around the country

News is breaking today that Governor Susana Martinez is leading the charge to make it EASIER for oil and gas companies to extract resources from federal lands inside New Mexico (as well as other western states with large federal inholdings). This is in direct opposition to the will of most New Mexicans who OVERWHELMINGLY support safer and greater regulations on oil and gas extraction in the state. An article in the industry report Energywire reports that Martinez sent a letter to the feds encouraging them to do away with several regulations and safeguards for extraction of oil and gas on federal public lands. Six governors, led by Susana Martinez of New Mexico (R), sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke earlier this year asking for four policy changes aimed at speeding up energy production on the vast federal estate. The governors’ letter, sent in January but made public yesterday, also included detailed proposals for how Interior could implement the streamlining plans.

Increased oil and gas production just means more wasted resources and lost revenue for New Mexico

Yesterday, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association were beside themselves with news about increased production of oil in the state. Their press release was nearly copied verbatim by the Albuquerque Journal and other news outlets around the state. ProgressNow New Mexico’s Political Director Lucas Herndon issued a response to their claims.

“Claiming this is a financial boon for New Mexico without addressing the $180-$240 million dollars lost each year from wasted natural gas is disingenuous at best,” said Lucas Herndon, Political Director at ProgressNow New Mexico. “We know that the industry focuses on what it is extracting and not on what it’s losing because to them the losses are minimal. But to the citizens of New Mexico it’s literally tens of millions in unpaid taxes and royalties that should be going to schools and other programs,” Herndon said.

The 5 most important things you need to know about the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s political power play  

 

This is the fifth and final piece in a series of articles highlighting the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. NMOGA lobbies on behalf of oil and gas interests, seeking less regulation and oversight for their industry and greater access to political power in the state. Last year, the Executive Director of NMOGA, Ryan Flynn, spoke at their annual meeting about the future of oil and gas in New Mexico as they moved into the election cycle of 2018, their goals to seize power, and the strength of their “opposition,” the citizens of New Mexico who have pushed back against the fossil fuel industry and their stranglehold on the state at all levels.  

Let’s recap what we have learned so far in looking more in-depth into NMOGA in the past month:

NMOGA’s Executive Director, Ryan Flynn, gave a speech last October to members of his association, the full transcript of which was leaked and full of some pretty concerning rhetoric. Besides proclaiming that his intention was to make NMOGA the “most powerful organization” in the state, Flynn also unabashedly pointed out his close personal ties with Governor Susana Martinez and touted that relationship as something positive for oil and gas companies.

[BREAKING] Pearce wrong on methane (again), endorses Trump plan to allow more taxpayer waste

Today, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed gutting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Methane Waste Prevention rule, which was designed to limit the wasteful venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas operations on public lands. And Congressman Steve Pearce was right there to applaud this giant step backward. 
In supporting efforts to rollback needed methane waste standards, Pearce is completely ignoring the fact that methane venting and flaring costs New Mexicans MILLIONS in lost revenue every year. New Mexico wastes more natural gas (primarily made up of methane) from it’s federal and tribal lands than any other state – $100 million worth of natural gas annually that should be generating millions more in royalty revenue for New Mexico schools. Pearce has a long history of supporting the extraction industry over the actual wishes of his own constituents. Whether it’s voting against the methane rule or opposing preserving public lands, Pearce has sided with extraction related industries at every turn. 
Secretary Zinke’s proposal would severely weaken efforts to curb waste on public lands, leading to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer-owned energy every year.