Updated: January 24, 2021 10:16 PM
Created: January 24, 2021 09:15 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Oil and gas leaders in New Mexico are raising concerns over President Joe Biden’s recent executive action that put a 60-day pause on new oil and gas leases on federal land.
In New Mexico, the industry accounts for nearly one-third of the state’s general fund revenues, and industry officials said even a temporary halt on leasing will hurt the state.
"It has two issues for the oil and gas industry: number one is that there's a huge economic impact for oil and gas producers in New Mexico. When the oil and gas industry suffers, that will have a huge ripple effect to impact New Mexico,” said Ryan Flynn, CEO of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association.
According to Flynn, he said the moratorium could actually hurt the environment.
"I think every person should support taking bold steps on climate change, but there's an unintended consequence here where by the decision to prevent any types of authorizations and approval from moving forward actually will increase emissions in the basin. If were not able to get an approval from the department of interior to take gas and put it in a pipe then there's going to be more trucks driving around as well as flaring in the Permian basin,” he said.
Flynn said the state’s economy could be in huge trouble if President Biden bans new fracking on federal property moving forward, however the president was unsteady on his commitment to that move during his campaign.
"If you were to take really a broad, unilateral swipe such as banning fracking that has the potential to cost New Mexico billions of dollars over the next couple of years as well as eliminate 62,000 jobs in the next year—you can't simply turn the switch on overnight and if you do that in the United States and eliminate oil and gas, all you're going to see is production increase in countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia,” Flynn said.
Flynn said those countries don’t have the same restrictions and environmental protections as the U.S.
Some environmental advocates said broad stroke elimination of fracking is exactly what needs to happen in New Mexico.
"Oil and gas drilling is a dirty and dangerous way to produce our energy,” said John Rumpler, Senior Attorney and Clean Water Program Director at Environment America. “It pollutes New Mexico's air and land and water, and we can do much better by getting our energy from clean sources like solar."
Democratic Congresswoman Deb Haaland, who could soon have a huge say in oil and gas production on federal land should she officially take the interior secretary seat, did not respond to KOB 4’s request for comment. However, she recently tweeted that the administration should tackle the climate crisis.
.@POTUS started day 1 strong. He’s working to #BuildBackBetter and unite our country so families have the help they need during this pandemic, we create economic opportunities for everyone, and we address the climate crisis.https://t.co/aXYnJdfxCp— Deb Haaland (@DebHaalandNM) January 21, 2021
Meanwhile, freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican from New Mexico’s largest oil and gas district, said “New Mexico stands to lose more than 60,000 jobs and billions of dollars in state revenue if Biden's ban becomes permanent. I will be taking further action in the coming weeks to protect our jobs and our state.”
For years, climate experts have said New Mexico needs to be moving away from reliance on oil and gas and move toward renewable energy, but getting there will be the biggest challenge we face.
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