The following appeared recently in several New Mexico newspapers including the Carlsbad Current-Argus:
As states near the election certification date it appears the exact contours of the Biden Administration’s energy policies and how they will impact New Mexico remain open to debate. We must make sure that we don’t lose sight of how important natural gas has been in powering America’s economic resurgence and leading the charge to a cleaner environment.
Candidate Biden made numerous conflicting statements about his likely energy policies including on the issue of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” which enables oil and gas producers to access previously inaccessible oil and gas sources. Elimination of this important process, even on “just” federal lands would have devastating impacts on New Mexico’s oil and gas industry and its economy.
During the campaign Biden repeatedly pledged not to lease any more federal land for oil and gas production. That pledge, with its potential to cast irreparable damage on our economy, got the attention of Democratic Governor Michel Lujan-Grisham. Last year the Governor wasted no time in announcing she would apply for a waiver or exemption for New Mexico on a federal ban aimed at crippling the oil and gas industry’s ability to fund public education. Gov. Lujan-Grisham should maintain this position and make sure New Mexico is allowed to continue our development of natural gas on public land.
Biden’s old boss, President Obama also understood the need to support oil and gas activity in oil and gas states, particularly activity surrounding natural gas. Obama was of course considered an environmentalist by political opponents and supporters alike. His support for natural gas was hardly contradictory, rather it was right in line with his environmental track record. That’s because natural gas emits CO2 at rates from 50 to 60% lower than does coal.
In fact, the Energy Information Administration recently found that “U.S. electric power sector emissions have fallen 33% from their peak in 2007.” This was no coincidence or accident. These emissions reductions occurred because electricity consumers have increasingly sourced natural gas instead of coal. This progress would be reversed as a result of a federal leasing ban.
When it comes to energy and the benefits of home-grown natural gas resources, Biden should take his cue from former President Obama and the expressed wishes of Gov. Lujan Grisham. New Mexico energy, produced on federal, state, and private lands, can and should play an integral role in ongoing reductions to CO2 emissions.
Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility