New Mexico’s oil and natural gas industry is growing again, which is welcomed news to lawmakers, communities, and all people across the land of enchantment.
Through challenges and changing times over the past two years, our dedication to New Mexico has been unwavering and we’re committed to doing our part to help New Mexico succeed. New Mexico’s oil and gas industry is proud to be the foundation of the state’s economy, providing thousands of jobs across our state and supporting the budget and public schools with billions in revenue. Teachers, students, first responders, and many others depend on our industry for critical resources to support learning, develop the next generation of leaders, and keep our communities healthy and safe.
Our state’s role as an energy producer and leader was underscored earlier this year by our ascension to the second-largest oil producer in the United States while remaining the eighth-largest producer of natural gas. This growth is creating unprecedented opportunities for the state of New Mexico with a record $5.3 billion in state and local revenue attributed to the industry last fiscal year, ensuring that New Mexico will have resources to recover, investments to make in our children, and opportunities to improve lives all over our state.
This fiscal and economic leadership goes hand in hand with environmental stewardship and protecting our natural resources. Climate change can and should be addressed, and producers around the state are constantly working to ensure that the oil and natural gas produced here is cleaner, safer, and more environmentally sound than anywhere else in the world. As global energy demand is projected to grow 50% by 2050, energy priorities must be focused on meeting these increasing energy needs more efficiently with lower emissions and lower carbon.
Economic growth in oil and natural gas and cleaner energy are not mutually exclusive. Meeting the growing energy needs of people worldwide requires leveraging the resources and capabilities we already have at our disposal. Coupled with advancements in technology and innovations, the future promises to usher in a new era of ever-cleaner energy for all of us. As New Mexico seeks opportunities to grow other sectors of the economy alongside oil and gas, we should take advantage of our existing resources, technical knowledge, and infrastructure to drive growth.
Low-carbon hydrogen produced with natural gas, known as “blue hydrogen,” has emerged as a promising and viable pathway to help meet energy needs across several sectors of the economy, from heat and power generation to long-haul and passenger transportation. Combined with carbon capture, utilization, and storage, low carbon blue hydrogen can build on New Mexico’s vast natural gas resources while minimizing emissions.
In recent weeks, New Mexicans and lawmakers have been subjected to a tired, recycled barrage of distortion and misinformation about natural gas and its role in hydrogen production as the Legislature considers proposals to deliver low-carbon blue hydrogen. Unfortunately, this has little to do with facts and more to do with a thinly-veiled effort to undermine any future role of oil or natural gas whatsoever in our state’s economy. Regardless of this rhetoric, the fact is that the best opportunities for hydrogen’s long-term viability emphasize accessibility, affordability, and reliability provided by natural gas.
New Mexico is home to abundant energy resources, and the energy sector is poised to continue growing across the board well into the future and building the economy of tomorrow requires leveraging our strengths today. Oil and natural gas have delivered for New Mexico for decades and will continue to do so as we transition to the lower-emissions and low carbon vision we all share.
Leland Gould is president and CEO of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, a coalition of oil and natural gas companies, individuals, and stakeholders dedicated to promoting the safe and environmentally responsible development of oil and natural gas resources in New Mexico. The views in this column are the author’s alone and do not reflect the views or opinions of New Mexico In Depth.