NM en­ergy key to fu­ture

Albuquerque Journal - - OP-ED - BY EMILY HAGGSTROM SE­NIOR DIREC­TOR, CON­SUMER EN­ERGY AL­LIANCE

Per an Oct. 2 ar­ti­cle, Bloomberg News named New Mex­ico the “top per­form­ing state econ­omy” since Pres­i­dent Trump took of­fice. Jim Peach, a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of eco­nom­ics at New Mex­ico State Uni­ver­sity, the­o­rized the state’s “re­cent up­swing in ex­trac­tive in­dus­tries like oil and gas” was a driv­ing rea­son why. He’s right. Record out­put and en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment al­lowed law­mak­ers and Gov. (Su­sana) Martinez to al­lo­cate more fund­ing to pro­grams that sus­tain roads, schools and pub­lic safety. En­ergy has also given the state strong cash re­serves, a re­ver­sal from a year ago, when law­mak­ers faced a bal­loon­ing bud­get gap.

State lead­ers have taken steps to con­tinue this, re­ject­ing county or­di­nances that would have im­ple­mented drilling set­backs — serv­ing as de facto bans on gas ex­trac­tion — and re­fus­ing to pass a re­dun­dant bill that would have re­stored a state agency’s abil­ity to pe­nal­ize pro­duc­ers, even though pro­to­cols like shut­ting in wells, deny­ing per­mits and ban­ning in­fringers al­ready ex­ist.

Such ex­tra steps are un­nec­es­sary and only hurt New Mex­ico. Costly red tape and an un­pre­dictable reg­u­la­tory cli­mate could force pro­duc­ers to con­sider whether stay­ing here is a good idea or if flee­ing next door to pas­tures like Texas and tap­ping the Per­mian Basin there is bet­ter.

That’s why vot­ers must elect lead­ers, re­gard­less of party af­fil­i­a­tion, who’ll con­tinue to sup­port sen­si­ble en­ergy so­lu­tions and in­fra­struc­ture that will grow the econ­omy fur­ther, es­pe­cially since the state re­mains be­hind in other eco­nomic rank­ings like poverty, in­come and child well­be­ing, forc­ing fam­i­lies and small busi­nesses to look to states like Colorado and Utah for bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties when new ones are spring­ing up here.

And thanks to safer tech­nol­ogy and strin­gent reg­u­la­tions, Amer­ica re­mains a leader in en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ard­ship. Case in point: The lat­est BP Sta­tis­ti­cal Re­view of World En­ergy said the U.S. re­duced car­bon emis­sions by 0.5 per­cent, the most of any ma­jor coun­try, in 2017, while the econ­omy grew nearly 3 per­cent.

Why risk tak­ing away op­por­tu­nity for New Mex­i­cans when en­ergy re­sources are help­ing pro­duce jobs and en­ergy more safely, and spear­head an eco­nomic turn­around we haven’t seen in decades?

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