Oil and Power: A Complicated Relationship in NM Politics
The oil and gas industry, boosted by Trump's insane pursuit of "American energy dominance" and a flood of campaign contributions, has a stranglehold on New Mexico politics. Challenging its dominance is risky, despite overwhelming evidence that this dirty industry spells disaster for our health and climate. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Benny Shendo, Jr, along with three co-sponsors, showed true courage by bringing forward Senate Bill 459, which would pause new fracking permits in order to establish critical protections. It's as common-sense as your Grandpa saying, "when you're in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging." The pushback against this bill, and several others aimed at reigning in a reckless industry, has been revealing. And its come from some surprising quarters.
Bruce Thomson, a research professor at UNM, weighed in with an editorial published by the NM Political Report. His piece is so full of industry talking points one wonders if some of the $120 million big oil spends yearly on propaganda hasn't found its way into his pocket. Lecturing his readers as they were kindergarteners, he uses phrases like "it sounds scary, but.." to flesh out a simplistic summary of fracking while ignoring major problems he himself must be aware of.
Yes, fracking does use much less water than agriculture, but there is a fundamental difference in how that water is used. The fresh water used in fracking is permanently removed from the hydrological cycle, stranded forever in a layer of toxic waste thousands of feet underground. His next assertion, that "fracking doesn't cause earthquakes, fracking waste disposal does," is the rhetorical equivalent of "guns don't kill people, people do." Mr. Thompson may not be a mass shooting survivor, but he will not be exempted from the effects of the climate emergency we are all facing.
Fracking is a major contributor to global warming and the rush to extract the last of our fossil fuels locks us in to further dependency on this harmful energy source. The methane cloud wreaking havoc on our climate is just part of a toxic stew of pollutants harming the health of New Mexicans right now. We need our brightest minds to help us imagine a way out of our dilemma, not reinforce an outdated paradigm that is destroying the web of life on which we all depend.