NM energy key to future

Oct 24, 2018 4:48 PM

Emily Haggstrom | Albuquerque Journal | October 13th, 2018

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?