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Major win: Climate impacts of LNG must be considered nationally and here in New Mexico

Yesterday we filed our Brief in Chief opposing New Mexico Gas Company's proposed Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Rio Rancho. The deadline for the brief, fortuitously, came just after President Biden announced a pause to permitting of new LNG terminals to consider whether the potential climate and domestic gas cost implications of expanding our LNG export capacity is in the public interest. This is the same public interest standard that applies to the permit that NMGC has applied for, and which we argue the company has not met. 

The message is clear: when it comes to permitting, climate change can no longer be ignored. Investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure is not in the public interest.

Our brief also argues that:

1. the LNG plant is not cost effective and may in fact increase customer vulnerability to price spike (watch our attorney, Christopher Dodd, eviscerate NMGC's financial model here).

2. without critical information about risks the Commission does not have the necessary information to make an informed decision;

3. NMGC did not follow the PRC's order to do a fulsome analysis for price spike mitigation - instead they dusted off a 2012 decision to buy Quail Ranch that would expand gas usage and increase ratebase from $833 million in 2023 to $1,229 billion in 2027 “primarily resulting from the construction and ownership of the LNG storage facility,” allowing them to collect significantly more profit from customers.

Following the Biden administration's announcement about LNG oil and gas lobbyists, predictably, are crying about a war on domestic fossil fuel production, and arguing that the decision will encourage countries to burn coal or buy gas from Russia, but they ignore the fact that US export capacity for LNG is already more than 14 billion cubic feet a day and another 27.6 bcf per day are under construction or already approved, all this when growth projections for LNG demand are falling fast around the world and climate science demands that fossil fuel use must fall 80 percent by midcentury, leaving no space for new long-term oil and gas projects. Any investment in LNG infrastructure now invites not only climate disaster, but significant losses and stranded assets.

Today Saudi owned Aramco also announced that it will ditch its plans to expand oil production, a major development related to slowing demand growth.

The writing is on the wall, and New Mexico's leadership needs to unhitch itself from this dying industry and stop the exploitation and degradation of our people, air, land and water for private profit. New Mexico is not a sacrifice zone. It is not an unpopulated wasteland open for rape and exploitation. We live here because we love this land, its vast skies and stunning mountains, the rugged plants and animals that cling to life on the edges of the desert, that seek clean water in deep arroyos and canyons, that depend, like us, on soil, snow and rain to eat and survive. There is no amount of oil and gas revenue that is worth the destruction of this precious place, and there is no excuse for failing to protect it.


Last week we introduced an exhaustively researched report, "Bleeding New Mexico Dry: The Truth Behind Governor Lujan Grisham's Proposed Strategic Water Supply" that draws the connection between the oil and gas industry's costly produced water problem, the Governor's $1.38M and growing campaign contributions from the energy sector, and the Governor's long term efforts to put in place policies and now use taxpayer dollars to subsidize "beneficial reuse" of the oil and gas industry's toxic radioactive waste.

This week we want to share this alarming article with you, because Pennsylvania already tried this experimental produced water treatment scheme, and found that the radiation and toxicity of fracking waste is not so easily removed, and it is the wastewater treatment workers and the rivers who bear the brunt.

The author reports that the "Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) 2016 TENORM study data indicates that these treatment facilities are often not removing even half or, in some cases, any radioactivity before the fracking waste is discharged into rivers."

The Governor's proposal for the "Strategic Water Supply" is not only a public subsidy to help oil and gas dispose of its waste, but it will endanger New Mexico workers and poses a grave threat to our clean water resources.

Drilling for oil or for brackish water always risks contamination of clean groundwater, and each one of the proposed water treatment plants and downstream industrial users of this treated "water" will generate its own significant waste stream of concentrated radioactive and toxic salts from the brine, according to one study, an amount equivalent to about 3000 Olympic swimming pools from the Permian Delaware Basin alone.

It is clear that the Governor's plan is not based on science. It does not protect our water, our land, or the people who will be exposed to fracking waste, and it must not be allowed to pass. Thus far it appears to be funded through a Capitol Outlay allocation and will likely require authorization through legislation. We are organizing opposition as fast as we can but in the meantime please take this first step and click the link below to oppose the Governor's plan.


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