Oil & Gas is Pushing Back On Rules Backed by Oil & Gas. Huh?

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Lucas
 Herndon
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As we close in on what’s being (rightly) billed as “the most important election of our lifetime” there are some pretty serious issues to consider: COVID, *Trump* in general, the election process both before and after election day; it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But there are still some tangible things that must remain forefront in our minds if we care at all about the future of the planet we want to live on.

Amidst everything else, the Trump administration is trying to rollback national air quality standards, specifically around methane, and large oil and gas lobby groups are backing that plan. We’ve seen over and over again that trade groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) side with their national counterparts at American Petroleum Institute (API) even when some of their local members, the actual companies who work the oil fields and fill out the ranks of NMOGA, are saying they agree with tighter regulations for both the optics and economic impacts capturing methane means for companies.

So why is the Trump Administration doing the bidding of the absolute worst in the oil and gas industry? In August, NPR did a story called “Trump’s Methane Rollback that Big Oil Doesn’t Want” and it rightly points to the capitalist perspective that unregulated methane, the key component of marketable “natural gas,” would drive prices lower than the already depressed NatGas prices that have never recovered from the last decade of expanded Permian oil boom production.

“Deregulation threatens that reputation not just in US markets but around the globe, as these corporations operate within foreign governments that may be trending toward more stringent climate policies than the US and who are not eager to import “dirty” US energy.” Sierra Club

Earlier this month Sierra Club released an article highlighting “Why is the EPA REALLY repealing Methane Emissions Regulations?” and do a wonderful job summarizing the issue. This section spells out why the  actual companies are still in favor of regulations, despite the fact that the trade organizations they belong to are  helping tow the line with the Trump Administration

“Massive energy corporations like Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil have the internal resources, be it funds or expertise, to comply with methane regulations. More importantly, they have poured endless money into promoting natural gas as a “cleaner” energy than fuels such as coal. Deregulation threatens that reputation not just in US markets but around the globe, as these corporations operate within foreign governments that may be trending toward more stringent climate policies than the US and who are not eager to import “dirty” US energy. As a result, many individual corporations have committed to limit methane emissions on their own, regardless of federal directives.”

What does that all mean for New Mexicans? As you know, the methane issue has been pretty front and center here for years, most especially as  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned around it SPECIFICALLY and early in her term issued directives for the state to begin the process of instituting a state-level methane rule to complement and enhance the (then-in-place) Obama administration’s methane rules.

So basically it’s more important than ever to ensure the proposed rules being worked on RIGHT NOW by state officials are as rigorous and thorough as possible. That will mean that the New Mexico Environment Department must close loopholes in their draft rules that would exempt 95% of the wells in the state from oversight. It is up to us. We know the Trump administration isn’t going to be looking after our health, air, and climate on this methane issue.

While the public comment period has passed for the first round of the state’s Methane  Rulemaking, we need to be prepared for the next iteration of their rules AND think about how the oil and gas industry is trying to sway our local elections before anything is fully implemented.

We know that methane pollution doesn’t stop at state borders, so it’s important that we keep the pressure on nationally as well for polluters to be held accountable, but in New  Mexico, we have more access to a sympathetic administration that’s already said they want to cut methane. Let’s be sure we keep the right people in power to see that promise through.

 

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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