New Mexican Covers Half the Story on Methane

Jul 30, 2017

By: Ryan Flynn, Executive Director, New Mexico Oil & Gas Association

There are at least two sides to every story, and you can always rely on The Santa Fe New Mexican to tell exactly one of them. Take the recent piece “Neighboring states a world apart on methane regulations” published on July 17, 2017. The New Mexican dedicates nearly 3,000 words to extolling the virtues of Colorado’s methane regulations, anoints it as the “gold standard,” and praises the climate policies of former President Barack Obama and former Governor Bill Richardson.

The New Mexican predictably uses the same blueprint to cover every environmental or energy issue: Policy ____ under [insert politician backed by environmental special interests] is morally superior, quote environmental lobbyist to prove why this is true, vilify pro-energy Governor because she is the only politician in the state to ever receive a political contribution, bury opposing viewpoint to make the story appear balanced, and most important of all, ignore any evidence that does not support talking points from the environmental political machine.

So, it’s therefore no surprise that the paper fails to mention oil production in the United States has increased by 28% from 1990 to 2015, and production of natural gas increased by 52%. All the while, methane emissions from oil and natural gas collapsed 19% to a 25 year low. And in New Mexico, Governor Martinez’s policies will have reduced the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 33% from 2012 levels by the end of this year. That’s a reduction of approximately 5.7 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year and is the largest greenhouse gas emission reduction in the history of New Mexico.

A pro-energy Governor producing meaningful results on climate change must be too discomforting for the The New Mexican and its readers to handle. Praising the morally superior words of a favored politician or special interest group is a much safer business model in the echo chamber of Santa Fe.  

The inconvenient truth The New Mexican neglects is that science-based policies and responsible oil and natural gas production are critical to our state and our nation.  You simply cannot produce renewable energy without oil, gas and other minerals.  As former Secretary of the Environment Department, I’m all too familiar with the half-truths and ridiculous suggestions radical environmentalists employ to make their case for moral superiority.  Unfortunately, this arrogant, paternalistic view employed by Santa Fe’s activist community is never challenged by The New Mexican.  Eliminate oil and gas development?  No problem, they say, tourists will come to Santa Fe on unicorns powered by rainbows.

Activist / County Commissioner / Western Leaders Network Executive Director / Coloradan Gwen Lachelt is a perfect example. She charges that oil and gas in New Mexico is like turning on a faucet is as reckless as it is ignorant. It’s probably difficult for her to see through the thick fog of conflicts of interest she’s surrounded by every day, but the crack reporters at The New Mexican didn’t notice either. Here are the facts: all oil and gas activities in New Mexico are heavily regulated, every well is inspected, air quality is regularly measured, vented and flared gas is required to be reported, and the industry is leveraging the best technology in the world to consistently reduce emissions and minimize the impact of production.

New Mexico should be proud to be one of America’s leading energy producers, ranking 5th among state in oil production and 8th in natural gas. This doesn’t just help fund critical needs for our state and provide jobs, it helps make our country less dependent on energy from other, more volatile parts of the world. The Colorado-style policies ushered in by the Obama administration in Washington would have choked American energy production, put thousands of New Mexicans out of work, and shuttered countless mom and pop businesses from Farmington to Jal. Simply put, it wasn’t good for America and would have been disastrous for New Mexico.

Oil and natural gas is the economic engine of New Mexico. While The New Mexican has been a staunch for advocate for universal early childhood education, increasing teacher pay, and improving our infrastructure, how can we even begin to talk about doing any of this as we’re locked into debates about suffocating the state’s economy?  The answer is: we can’t. And those who think we can probably think Colorado’s green chile is better too.