Advocates call for more regulations on oil and gas industry
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There are more calls to increase regulation on the oil and gas industry to combat climate change. This comes as the new state budget shows a boom in tax revenue from those companies.
Environmental advocates are also saying New Mexico needs to make a stronger push in alternative energy.
For the next few years, New Mexico could be seeing an influx of money. The Legislative Finance Committee projected $3.48 billion extra this upcoming fiscal year.
The committee is crediting the “booming” oil and gas industry, but one organization is asking lawmakers to slow down, and pump the breaks.
“We really have to look at making a transition, moving away from this boom-and-bust economy that we find ourselves in, moving away from an industry that contaminates our kid’s health all while paying for our kid’s education, and those are issues that we really have to deal with and address as a community in New Mexico,” said Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter.
While the state does benefit in royalty income from oil extraction, the Sierra Club is asking at what cost?
“Over 144,000 people live within a half mile of one of the 62,000 oil and gas facilities around the state. Almost 39,000 of those people are children, so we have to understand what the cost of the methane and ozone pollution is to the state,” said Feibelman.
Feibelman pointed to the low inspector to well ratio, and is calling for more regulation and sustainability.
“Our communities are on fire, our elders are exposed to extreme heat, there’s floods where there had been drought. We have to address this current situation for our kids and our communities, and we can’t be lackadaisical about that,” Feibelman said.
Legislators did get praise from the group for passing the Energy Transition Act, and leading the nation in methane and ozone pollution rules, but they still say more has to be done to address climate pollution.
“As hard as it is we have to make that transition. If you knew that your child had a 110 fever you would be rushing to the emergency room right now and that is what we need to see from our communities, municipalities, from our Legislature, and from our governor saying, ‘This is a state of emergency. We are transitioning our economy now, and we are looking for ways to sustain our communities in the long term,’” said Feibelman.
Feibelman says this isn’t to say legislators need to replace every oil and gas dollar for renewable income. Instead, building a diverse economy with multiple sources of energy.
New Mexico Oil and Gas also reacted to the revenue estimate posting on social media:
“Great News for NM! Fueled by strong economic activity in The New Mexico Oil and Natural Gas Industry, revenue projections through 2025 released by The NM Legislative Finance Committee today are amazingly robust!”
KOB 4 also reached out to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for comment, in a statement her spokesperson said:
“Gov. Lujan Grisham is focused on creating a diverse energy economy and infrastructure that provides reliable and steady employment for New Mexicans. This funding empowers the state to make critical investments in healthcare and education while continuing a just transition to a clean energy economy.”