DRILLING TOWARD DISASTER
New Mexico's Oil and Gas Industry Undermines the State's Climate Targets and Threatens our Health, Land, Air and Water
The oil and gas industry is New Mexico’s top emitter of climate pollution and continued oil and gas extraction is costing New Mexico dearly, with further exploitation of the NM Permian threatening the world with a “climate bomb” rendering the state unable to meet the Governor’s climate goals. As the state suffers from extreme drought, the oil and gas industry continues to frack with abandon, churning New Mexico’s precious fresh water into toxic and radioactive waste. Right now this waste, euphemistically called “produced water,” is leaking, spilling, and exploding daily across New Mexico, contaminating land, air, water, and people.
Despite industry posturing, oil and gas extraction is on the rise and New Mexico ranks top three in the nation for oil and gas production, yet the state continues to rank lowest in the U.S. for public education (#50), general opportunity (#49), and overall well being (#48). Fracking disproportionately impacts Tribal Nations and low-income families with more than more than 115,000 New Mexicans living within one mile of an oil and gas well and nearly 20% of New Mexican families living below the poverty line.
While the Biden Administration has made fossil fuel transition and environmental justice a priority, the stranglehold of oil and gas influence on state politics compels legislators to ignore the looming environmental and health crisis, seemingly determined to leave New Mexicans behind. A report from NM Ethics Watch found the influence of oil and gas money in state politics dwarfed those of other industries with almost $3.3 million in direct campaign contributions to NM politicians this past election cycle, not accounting for lobbyist salaries or expenses. Greasing both sides of the aisle, the oil and gas industry gave more than $182,000 to House Speaker Brian Egolf’s PAC and $67,500 to the New Mexico Senate Democrats’ PAC in 2020 alone.
As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham threatens to challenge federal efforts to rein in unfettered fracking on federal lands in New Mexico, we are working in coalition with numerous groups to hold elected officials accountable to promises to protect their constituents, end sacrifice zones, and put people over oil and gas profits.
A report released by Oil Change International and partners finds that New Mexico’s oil and gas production has grown 125% since 2010 and is poised for continued expansion. Unless this course is corrected, the volume of oil and gas extracted in New Mexico will increase more than 85% by 2030, and projected emissions from burning the oil and gas from new wells could amount to ten times Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stated climate goals.
We joined with Earthworks and other partners to deliver a new report on oil and gas industry waste to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham highlighting the need for urgent action to protect public health from toxic oil and gas waste.
Read more about Oil and Gas Waste in New Mexico
Our joint proposed amendments to the Fluid Oil and Gas Waste Act will protect New Mexico people, land and water by minimizing the use of fresh water in oil and gas well drilling and making the discharge or release of produced water illegal and defining penalties for violations.