February 10, 2019

February 10, 2019

New Mexico Senate Bill 459 Proposes a Four Year Pause on New Fracturing Permits

New Mexico Senate Bill 459 Proposes a Four Year Pause on New Fracturing Permits

Two lawmakers, State Sen. Antoinette Sedilla Lopez (D-16) and Sen. Benny Shendo (D-22), recently introduced a bill that would place a four-year ban on the issuance of new hydraulic fracturing permits. In addition, state agencies would be required to provide annual reports on active fracking permits and detailed findings on environmental effects of oil and gas activities. If passed, the bill would be active until June 1, 2023, which the lawmakers believe would be an adequate amount of time to fund and research the potential environmental outcomes of fracking. Oil & Gas: Foundation of New Mexico’s EconomyThe proposal for this bill has many companies and agencies worried about the potential economic effects. New Mexico’s economy is reliant on oil and gas production, and right now is experiencing a surge of growth. Specifically, the oil and gas industry provides nearly one-third of the revenue for New Mexico's General Fund. In total, New Mexico achieved over $3 billion in oil and gas production revenue which directly accounted for the state’s surplus of over $1 billion. If this bill is passed, the taxes and royalties would have to be recouped in other ways such as higher taxes for New Mexico residents and companies. Two Views on Hydraulic FracturingThe premise of Bill 459 is to research the immediate and long-term effects of hydraulic fracturing. Environmental advocates believe there’s not enough concrete data to conclude that fracturing leads to zero adverse effects on land, air, and water. On the other hand, industry experts state that hydraulic fracturing has been practiced for over 50 years in New Mexico without a single case of groundwater contamination. Furthermore, recent technological advances reduce methane emissions and improve the safety of fracturing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that methane emissions from oil and gas operations in New Mexico’s Permian Basin dropped by 6% between 2016 and 2017 even though energy production increased. Potential Long-Term Effects of BillThis proposed bill is not meant to end fracking, but act as a “pause” until the state receives the research, they need to provide sound conclusions. The proposal of this bill has many worried about the future of New Mexico’s economy. New Mexico is in the middle of rapid growth, and Senate Bill 459 is predicted to slow momentum. What’s Next:This bill will be in session until March 16th and will face opposition. Two different views on an industry that provides the majority of New Mexico's current revenue. We encourage all New Mexico citizens to voice their opinion on Senate Bill 459 to their local representatives. Find your local representative.

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