The impact of a moratorium on leasing of federal lands for oil and gas extraction on New Mexico’s oil and gas industry, the economy and families were topics of a roundtable discussion conducted Thursday by Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.) at the Artesia Chamber of Commerce.
Herreel was joined at the event by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) and Ronny Jackson (R-Texas). The event offered each firsthand knowledge of oil and gas production in southeast New Mexico, as Herrell pointed to the importance of energy independence for the State and the U.S.
“We had a great roundtable with several of the (oil and gas) stakeholders this morning so we could understand the challenges unique to the industry,” Herrell said.
“So we can get the message out that people will fully understand that what we’re facing and why this industry is worth fighting for and why it matters not only to the state but the nation but to our energy independence.”
President Joe Biden paused new oil and gas leases on federal lands in January.
Stauber, who represents northeast Minnesota which borders Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario, said New Mexico has a major role in energy independence and energy dominance for the United States.
He said the mining industry rules his congressional district.
“We’re not only an iron ore mining district but we’re also critical minerals, there’s a lot of pushback of mining critical minerals just as they are oil and gas production down here,” Stauber said.
He said if the United States wants to be energy independent, then the oil and gas industry needs to be allowed to expand.
“Meeting the environmental and labor standards and I think it brings good paying jobs to the community here. It helps with the schools. It brings money to the local communities and I think as we go forward, we have to recognize not only energy independence but dominating the energy sector,” Stauber said.
Stauber serves as Ranking Member of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee. Herrell serves as the subcommittee’s Vice Ranking Member.
Tenney represents New York’s 22nd District, which borders Syracuse to the west and Lake Ontario to the north. She said that New York state is home to some very rich oil shale deposits.
“We have moratorium in New York and we’re not allowed to access in many cases a lot of that shale and I just wanted to learn and listen how the energy sector affected the economy here,” she said.
“We’re grateful to learn and thank you Artesia to the wonderful people we met here. We’re very proud of their community and we are just grateful to hear from them and hear their concerns and take them back to Washington,” Tenney added.
Jackson represents Texas’s 13th District which stretches from Amarillo to Wichita Falls and said Texas “is doing everything right in oil and gas.”
“It’s really interesting to hear the discussions we had today and I’ll just say, I think it’s really important how people in New Mexico need to know, especially people in urban areas, they need to know how important oil and gas is to their livelihood,” he said.
Jackson, who drew on Texas and New Mexico’s similar economies, added that oil and gas is important to other vital functions like schools, hospitals, and small businesses.
“When oil and gas goes away, if we impose unreasonable taxes and regulations, on oil and gas and we try to drive oil and gas into the ground which is part of what the Biden administration is trying to do it will impact everyone in this state in a very negative way,” he said.
Artesia State Rep. Jim Townsend (R-54) attended the roundtable.
“We had a nice conversation about businesses and the continued reluctance to open up our state,” he said.
“They were all very supportive of Yvette and our businesses in general like oil and gas and agriculture. She has made some really good friends.”
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.