Today's headline in the Washington post - a planet on the brink. Finally the mainstream media appears to understand the magnitude and implications of climate change.
Outside it has been above 95 degrees for the past week and it is forecast to get even hotter. We have no time to waste, and yet New Mexico Gas Company wants to double down on its fossil fueled profit model by investing at least $180M into a dangerous Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction, storage and re-gasification plant just outside of the Rio Rancho Community.
More than 50 community members concerned about the impact of this proposed plant on the climate, and their safety, health and property values attended our event on Tuesday evening at the Taylor Ranch Library, and many more via zoom.
Our expert presenters, Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen and Christopher Dodd, the attorney assisting us in the NMGC case, shared information about LNG, about the specifics and financial impact of the proposal, and about the ways that community members can get involved. Watch an edited version of the presentation below:
We are learning so much about the significant dangers and potential destruction such a plant could visit upon New Mexico and the accidents that have taken place repeatedly in other frontline communities sacrificed for the booming LNG industry, even as industry representatives present a reassuring veneer of technological expertise and safety.
There are three important questions to ask our Public Regulation Commission as they consider whether to approve the plant:
1. Is the proposed plant worth the risks to the health, safety and economic wellbeing of New Mexicans? No. LNG plants, tankers and associated pipelines pose a dangerous risk to surrounding communities and everyone throughout the state. Industry representatives fail to account for the human and equipment failures that have resulted in catastrophic accidents in communities in the US and all over the world.
2. Is the proposed plant cost effective? No. It does not protect against future price spikes, and may even make us more vulnerable to them. The $180M or more that could be charged to ratepayers to build the plant will not reduce exposure to price volatility because the capacity of the plant - less than half the contracted capacity from the current supplier in Texas - could mean that even more gas would have to be purchased on the swing market at high prices. In fact the real motivation for building the plant is the ability for NMGC to add $180M with a guaranteed 9.375% return on equity to rates for the next thirty years, resulting in at least $3 more in costs for each NMGC customer each month.
3. Shouldn't NMGC instead invest in efficiency, electrification and renewable power to hedge against any potential supply shortages? Significant capital expenditures like the $180M cost to build this plant have the effect of locking in fossil fuel usage because companies must recoup their sunk investments and therefore resist early retirement or changes in business model. This is called the lock-in effect. Pressures on supply should instead be mitigated by efficiency and electrification investments that reduce our fossil fuel dependency.
HOW CAN YOU TAKE ACTION?
Public comment in the case will be heard via Zoom on October 23rd, but between now and then you can make a difference by:
1. Submitting a written comment to the PRC regarding the case by clicking here.
2. Reaching out to your public representatives - your legislator, and if you live in Albuquerque or Rio Rancho, your City and County Commissioners - to ask them to publicly and directly oppose New Mexico Gas Company's plan.
3. Writing an op-ed or a Letter to the Editor for your local paper to help get the word about this dangerous plan out to the wider community.
4. We will be reaching out to all who signed up and attended the community forum with an invite to a google listserve for coordination of community action. If you aren't on that list and would like to be added to the listserve email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.