You only need to spend about five minutes in New Mexico to know there’s no other place like it on Earth. That’s why our small but determined population stays here despite governments that continue to fail us.
This past month, several events, from local to global in impact, have demonstrated that New Mexico is more than a Land of Enchantment. New Mexico is a land with strategic resources that local homeowners, regional businesses, and the entire world needs.
Start with the close of the short legislative budget session. Strong demand for oil and gas sent our tax revenues into record territory again. Oil prices surging to $100 a barrel are paying for teacher raises statewide.
Then look at the proposed premature closure of the San Juan coal plant due to political pressure from environmentalists. Earlier this month, PNM alerted the Public Regulation Commission of upcoming rolling blackouts forecast for this summer during peak power usage. This is what happens when the rush to the green economy comes before the “clean” infrastructure is in place. The closure of the San Juan plant has now been postponed.
This week the governor signed a memorandum of understanding with three other Western states to form a “hydrogen hub” to compete for federal funding for development of hydrogen energy sources. This comes despite opposition from the Democratic Legislature, who tabled every hydrogen bill this session under pressure from environmental groups who oppose the hydrogen development efforts because they rely on fossil fuels. The governor knows that federal dollars to grow energy jobs is a vote-getter come November, despite what the Legislature says.
But the most compelling event is the war in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin relies on rich oil and gas reserves and fuel and mineral monopolies to prop up his authoritarian regime.
Putin’s unprovoked attack on the largest country in Europe has changed how the entire continent—the entire world—now looks at strategic resources and energy.
With Putin’s unconscionable attack on Ukrainian civilians, Russia is no longer a viable trading partner. In Europe, Poland’s vast untapped mineral deposits may finally transform that nation’s economy. Germany not only will likely have to abandon the Nord Stream 2 project, but it may also have to reopen its nuclear plants. Even China, thought to be Russia’s last trading partner, is starting to distance itself.
Our state should look to this example. As global citizens, New Mexicans need to realize that it is far better for our planet to extract oil, gas and minerals here than it is in Russia. Ecologically, economically, and from a humanitarian standpoint, New Mexican strategic materials are better for the Earth and its inhabitants.
All attempts to power our world come with a cost. Solar panels and wind turbines must be replaced, and those components are hard to recycle. That doesn’t mean that technologies in those sectors aren’t improving. But the same can also be said for the nuclear sector—which got its start right here. Recent innovations in that industry make nuclear power a cleaner, safer alternative that it was even 10 years ago.
And the oil and gas and minerals industries—in many ways our economic mainstay in New Mexico—are ready to innovate. Oil and gas producers in New Mexico are already using hydrogen to power their enterprises. They also know the global energy companies are making carbon-free pledges and are taking steps now to adjust their long-term plans to meet that future reality.
There is more in our ground here. Copper prices are at an all-time high, and permits for new N.M. mines languish with regulators. There is a strong possibility that mineable rare earths are in the northeastern part of the state; the rare earths metal market faces great instability due to the Russia-Ukraine war and the destabilization of Afghanistan.
Electric cars, smartphones and our portable technology all require copper and rare earths; oil, gas and coal will be strategic fuels for years. Leaving the extraction of these materials to despots and Third World nations takes an exacting and irreparable toll on our planet and humanity. It’s not only economically prudent to exploit New Mexico’s strategic resources; it benefits the entire world.
Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and former Navy officer. She appears regularly as a panelist on NM PBS and is a frequent guest on News Radio KKOB. A Republican, she lives amicably with her Democratic husband north of I-40 where they run two head of dog, and two of cat. She can be reached at email@example.com.