GOP and NMOGA Still Arguing About Industry’s Role in the State

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Lucas
 Herndon
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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 is 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.

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Alissa Barnes :: Executive Director
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Alissa Barnes is Executive Director at ProgessNow New Mexico where she leads a team that works on message development, issue and voter education, and amplification of progressive messages and values. She leads the organization in strategy development, fundraising, and organizational growth and sustainability.

Alissa’s background includes nearly 12 years at Roadrunner Food Bank where Alissa led the development and creation of multiple programs that are now national models, invested in community building and collaborations, and worked closely with elected officials, educating about hunger and why policies would either benefit or hurt clients in food lines. She has a BA from the University of New Mexico and various non-profit certifications.
  • If she followed her childhood dream, she would be a Broadway tap dancing star
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Marianna Anaya :: Deputy Director
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Marianna oversees strategic messaging and creative implementation tactics for issue-based and political campaigns. She leads the team’s digital and earned media programs, bringing a New Mexico values-based approach to her work. 

Marianna’s background includes race and ethnic studies in education as a focus at UT Austin and UCLA, political campaign work, staffing former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as leading organizing and communications work for the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

  • She currently serves as the Board President of Emerge NM. 
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Lucas Herndon :: Energy and Policy Director
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Lucas’ focus is on all things energy and environment, election integrity projects and general messaging strategy. He is often the front facing voice for PNNM when it comes to issues surrounding methane, renewable energy, oil industry accountability, and public lands issues. 

Lucas has an extensive background in public lands and solar energy. He was instrumental in the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2014 and has participated in every local election since 2012 through phone banking, online organizing, and poll watching. Lucas is a lifelong resident of Las Cruces where he has served in various capacities of leadership including as President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, District Director for the Dona Ana County Democratic Party, and attending and completing the inaugural classes of the Las Cruces Neighborhood Leadership Academy and the Las Cruces Tree Stewards. 

  • Owned a tattoo shop called Omega Tattoo & Supply 
  • Once got a chin bump “what’s up” from James Harden on an airplane when Harden saw Lucas’ beard 
  • Has a minor in Medieval and Early Modern History
Josette Arvizu :: Communications Director
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Josette Arvizu is the Communications Director at ProgressNow New Mexico where she oversees the development and implementation of systems that further the external and internal communications of the organization.

Josette’s background in marketing includes copywriting, paid media, SEO and content strategy for businesses and nonprofits, including convention and visitor bureaus from Bermuda to Anaheim. She began her career teaching writing to college students while in New Mexico State University’s MFA in creative writing program. Her previous work promoting diversity and inclusion includes coordination of writing and traditional arts workshops for Native American youth at the Tucson Indian Center.
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Jackie Aguirre :: Communications Specialist
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Jackie’s focus is on graphics and social media marketing that promote progressive issues across our state. 

Jackie’s background includes work in the Reproductive Justice space focusing on Latinx, Chicanx and Mexican-American communities.

  • She is a co-owner of a community art gallery celebrating BIPOC artists
  • She is a long-time volunteer for Planned Parenthood and works with college students to provide condoms/dental dams, menstrual products & other resources
  • She is a part of a group of women who love craft beer and hosts monthly beer shares with beer from all over the country
Edgar Cruz :: Communications Specialist
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Edgar Cruz is a Communications Specialist at ProgressNow New Mexico where he focuses on video creation and research that promotes progressive issues across our state.

Edgar has a background producing multimedia initiatives. With over five years of radio production experience, he is a movement agent who believes in exploring all avenues of media to inform and engage community.

  • Is a host of Espejos de Aztlan on KUNM
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  • First discovered his passion for organizing as a high school student after joining the Youth Alliance in 2009