NMOGA is trying to fleece NM lawmakers, and they’re buying it

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Lucas
 Herndon
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Once again the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association is trying to sell us, the good people of New Mexico, a bill of goods and unfortunately it looks like some of our legislative leaders are buying it.

Today’s Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Democrats in the legislature (yeah you read that right) have sent Environment Secretary James Kenney a letter expressing “concern” about a made-up report that NMOGA paid for to try and do exactly this: blind the Legislative Finance Committee and other legislators to the true cost of the oil and gas industry.

You can read the article to get the gist of what the letter says but to summarize:

  • A Florida company was hired by the oil and gas lobbyists to write a report that would show stricter regulations on ozone emissions would cost them TOO MUCH money.
  • Surprise! That’s what the report says.
  • NMOGA showed the report to the LFC, and now Chairs Patty Lundstrom and George Munoz are wringing their hands about lost revenue.

It would be great if our Democratic leaders could stop being the inadvertent (hopefully) cheerleaders and de facto spokespeople for the oil and gas industry that has shown over and over again to not care about our communities.

For instance, residents of northwest New Mexico are being saddled with unhealthy pollution from the oil and gas industry. That is why groups and individuals from across the region including faith leaders, tribal officials, and environmental groups are supporting strong NMED action on oil and gas air pollution. It’s extremely disappointing that Chairs Munoz and Lundstrom have chosen to side with big polluters over the health of their own constituents.

Thankfully Secretary Kenney and his staff are pushing back on the need for strong pollution rules and correctly pointed out that the sky is falling numbers from oil and gas just don’t line up and that any financial losses to the industry will be minimal.

“When compared to the publicly available revenue data for New Mexico’s oil and gas operators of $2.3 trillion, the cost of compliance is about 0.02%.” – Maddy Hayden, spokesperson for the Environment Department.

Something to remember that isn’t addressed in the article is that when NMOGA tries to convince legislators that this means a loss of jobs, the oil industry has already shown they don’t care about our workers over and over again. While 2021 has brought literal record revenue to the state via oil and gas royalties, the vast majority of the oil jobs that were lost in 2020 have NOT been filled. This is because oil and gas companies are increasingly relying on automation and other cost-saving measures to protect their bottom line. So if our Democratic leaders really care about jobs they shouldn’t be carrying water for oil and gas but looking to other industries to help New Mexico achieve a Just Transition toward real, long-term sustainable economic growth.

Oh and speaking of water, we hope that these legislators remember it takes 4-5 barrels of water to frack a barrel of oil because, well, have you seen pictures of Elephant Butte lately? (If you legit don’t know, Elephant Butte is the state’s largest reservoir and it’s currently at 5% capacity. FIVE PERCENT).

So yeah, once again we see NMOGA and their Wall Street overlords trying to protect THEIR bottom line by cutting corners and not caring about New Mexicans’ health, safety, or even our own fiscal responsibilities since it’s our tax dollars and resources that are impacted all over communities near oil and gas operations.

We’re thankful for Sec. Kenney and others in state leadership who ARE listening to our communities and not just the oil lobby.

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