Some Thoughts On The New Mexico Energy Plan

Letter To The Editor_Pongratz Endorses Chris Chandler For House District 43 Seat (20)


I have been following the New Mexico Legislative session and attended the Taos Democratic Party’s Renewable Energy Powerhouse Session recently. From what I can tell, “Business As Usual” is the New Mexico plan: increase fracking, when we already have 67,000 oil and gas wells in New Mexico, in order to fund education and utility-scale wind and solar for export, while minimally addressing decentralization, consumption, and the common good. Stephanie Garcia Richards is pushing for HB 398, which would increase oil and gas royalties for NM by up to 5 percent. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, headed by Ryan Flynn,* which is essentially a powerful corporate oil and lobbying arm, vigorously opposes the royalty increase and also opposes SB 459, which would put a 4 year pause on new fracking permits while environmental impact studies are conducted.

At 2-8 million gallons of our precious water resources per frack, New Mexico is being held hostage to the fossil fuel industry. I believe people are smart enough to come up with other ways to fund our children’s education. Here are just a couple of possibilities:

  1. At least partially reverse the 2003 Richardson tax-cuts, which lowered the top marginal personal income tax rate, reduced the capital gains tax, and cost the state an average of $72 million/year over the first five years, (which would obviously be wildly unpopular with those who hold the reins of power in our state.)
  2. Industrial hemp production, which wouldn’t depend on many millions of gallons of water. Anything made from petroleum-based plastics can be made with hemp.

I fail to comprehend how turning New Mexico into a Wall Street-controlled utility-scaled energy mine will benefit or improve the lives of the vulnerable and poor in New Mexico. It seems insane to me that New Mexico believes it has to bow to Big Oil and Gas in order to make one dollar in royalties to their three in profits, by producing and exporting fracked fossil fuel products in order to develop utility-scale wind and solar to be exported to neighboring states that have plenty of their own sun, wind, and money.

The New Mexico Renewable Energy Plan, while an improvement over the past eight years, will actually contribute almost nothing to the mitigation of catastrophic climate change, which is the greatest existential threat to all life on earth in the history of humanity, except, of course, for the rapidly growing threat of nuclear obliteration.

The simple fact is that America needs to REDUCE CONSUMPTION FROM THE TOP DOWN. Many of us today can still remember the days of pre-globalization and pre -petroleum based single-use plastics when America had local industries of all types. I believe all of our elected New Mexico leaders need to seriously consider the idea of returning to and revitalizing the nearly dead paradigm of working and producing energy on a human and local scale in order to reduce our overall consumption of energy beginning immediately. A comprehensive plan would include, in part, a return to manufacturing goods with our own hands in our own regions, subsidizing and expanding local agriculture, water conservation, planting trees, aggressively developing much more effective public transportation systems, especially in our cities, reintroducing the key components, Reduce and Reuse, to the recycling picture, and subsidizing small locally scaled renewable energy, making it possible for all homes to have grid-tied PV solar systems, and thermal solar collectors in addition to the simple components of energy efficiency.

If there is to be a future for the earth, then the most powerful and rich humans, again, from the TOP DOWN, must understand, teach, model, and fund the concepts of peace and sustainability in all things instead of continuing to promote the cruel and fatally flawed dominant paradigm of endless resources, endless growth, and endless war.

These quotes by James Howard Kunstler provide a thought-provoking picture for us all to ponder and ponder quickly!

“The disappointment over it will be epic when we discover that the laws of physics override the bright ideas of politicians. America has been blowing green smoke up its own arse for years, promoting oxymorons such as “green skyscrapers” and “clean energy,” but the truth is we’re not going to run Wal Mart, Suburbia, Disney World, and the interstate highway system on any combination of wind, solar, geothermal, recycled Fry-Max, and dark matter. We’re just running too much stuff at too great a scale for too many people. We’ve blown through the capital already and replaced it with IOUs that will never be honored, and we’re caught in an entropy trap of diminishing returns from all the work-arounds we’re desperately trying……….A better index for our journey into the unknown frontier beyond modernity will not be what is “green” and “smart” but perhaps what is “sane” and “insane.”

*It should be noted that in her 2012 State Speech, Gov. Martinez stated, “My appointees are barred from lobbying state government for two years after serving in my administration.” Yet “Revolving Door Ryan” resigned from his position as Secretary of the Martinez Administration’s NMED in 2016 in order to immediately take his position as Executive Director of the NM Oil and Gas Association, whose main mission is to lobby on behalf of the oil industry; this was shortly following the evisceration of the strong and highly enforceable 2005 Consent Order between the DOE and MNED governing cleanup of radioactive and toxic waste at Los Alamos National Lab under his and Martinez’s watch. This “revised” 2016 Consent Order created huge loopholes by which LANL, NNSA, and DOE could avoid cleanup simply by claiming it is too difficult or costly.

Suzie Schwartz
Taos County