Lets Fix the Methane Rule Now: Before It’s Too Late

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Lucas
 Herndon
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The time is now to fix the methane rule and protect New Mexicans from pollution

In 2018 one of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s central planks in her campaign for Governor was cutting methane from oil and gas. In 2019 she made it a major piece of one of her first executive orders as Governor. And she has committed the state to enact nationally leading rules to limit oil and gas pollution that damages our health and our climate.

Unfortunately to date, the state’s actions under Gov. Lujan Grisham have not lived up to these promises.

While we’re thankful for the work her administration has done in a number of areas, the methane rules they have proposed need work. The draft the New Mexico Environment Department presented to the public in July was completely undercut by huge proposed exemptions that would allow up to 95% of wells in New Mexico and 60 to 70% of the methane and health-harming volatile organic compounds to be exempted from the regulations. We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again:  Rules that don’t apply to 95% of the things they’re supposed to regulate can’t be nationally leading.

What’s more, the exemptions proposed by NMED will primarily benefit the biggest oil and gas producers in New Mexico, the sort of large out of state companies that ought to be able to afford to do the right thing on methane. This includes Hilcorp (the largest natural gas producer in NM) which stands to benefit most. It’s a head-scratcher as to why these exemptions are there, especially given Hilcorp seems to have some spare cash on hand (given that their chairman was one of President Trump’s largest donors in the oil and gas industry).

Meanwhile, New Mexico is suffering from the ongoing effects of Covid-19, a RESPIRATORY VIRUS! If for no other reason than the long-term effects that we know oil and gas emissions have on our communities, like increased instances of asthma (a major underlying cause of deaths related to Covid-19), securing a comprehensive methane rule to significantly curb those effects should be a major priority.

In addition to improving the air quality for our most vulnerable communities,  a comprehensive methane rule also has other benefits for the state.t. SInce natural gas (one of New Mexico’s biggest exports) is primarily methane, methane capture is also good for the state’s bottom line. Many of the largest producers like ExxonMobil are already working on retrofitting their infrastructure with methane capture for that exact reason. They support strong methane rules at the federal level and should do so in  New Mexico as well. So who exactly is the Environment Department listening to in proposing the loopholes, to begin with?

Last month, the state Treasurer and a host of investors with over $100 billion under management and considerable fiscal interest in New Mexico urged the administration to fix the proposed rules and remove the loopholes. When the money guys AND the oil companies AND the environmentalists all agree on something, it’s frankly baffling that the Lujan Grisham Administration hasn’t jumped on this and agreed as well.

We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again:  Rules that don’t apply to 95% of the things they’re supposed to regulate can’t be nationally leading.

We all know the rumor that Gov. Lujan Grisham is being considered for a spot in DC with the Biden administration, probably because of her dogged work to help fight Covid in New Mexico. We couldn’t be happier or more proud to see that consideration.

We also know that there is a lot of work that needs to be done right here in New Mexico including fixing this methane rule and closing loopholes that will leave far too many New Mexicans exposed to pollution. We would love to celebrate the passage of the nation-leading methane rules that will hopefully serve as a model for the rest of the country with Governor Lujan Grisham before she’s gone. We know it’s a major part of the legacy she wants to leave for her time in office, and a major promise to the people of New Mexico she can and should be able to check off her to-do list.

 

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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
  • Has seen Frozen 1 and 2 over 100 times
  • Loves heavy metal concerts
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. 
  • Her hobbies include getting more women, queer folks and BIPOC elected to office.
  • She has three cuddle-worthy dogs at home
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.
  • Is a cat mom to an obstinate orange tabby named Quasimodo and a restless grey cat named Squirrel
  • Hasn’t heard a pun she didn’t like
  • Minored in dance in college and is an avid follower of ballet on Instagram
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
  • Is a member of Generation Justice
  • First discovered his passion for organizing as a high school student after joining the Youth Alliance in 2009