FARMINGTON — Gov. Susana Martinez is pushing federal officials to speed up consideration of liquid natural gas export terminals.
Martinez said in a June 18 letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that exporting LNG could benefit America's economy.
"The construction and operation of LNG export terminals, along with increased production activity domestically, will support thousands of new jobs -- if not many times that -- and billions in new investment at a time when economic growth in our nation is sluggish," Martinez wrote.
She added, "Energy production in New Mexico is what drives school funding. When we succeed in safely and prudently expanding the production of oil and natural gas in New Mexico, our students benefit through greater educational resources."
LNG exports could theoretically benefit the San Juan Basin, one of the nation's largest natural gas basins. Local natural gas producers have long complained that their only markets are to the west, and they typically earn less than the Henry Hub spot price for their product.
"I would certainly believe your area of the state is going to be most affected by this potential boom in LNG exports," said Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, an Albuquerque think tank.
Gessing spoke to the San Juan County Republican Party on July 15, and also led a discussion during an open house at St. Clair's Winery and Bistro in Farmington.
The boom in domestic natural gas production has led to a supply glut, leaving industry looking for new markets.
A terminal in Louisiana is due to begin exporting LNG to Britain under a contract with Centrica, BBC News reported in July.
Other possible trade partners include Japan and India, Gessing said.
"The sky's the limit," he said.
Gessing criticized the Obama administration for taking an "extremely slow and very deliberate" process to approve LNG exports. Their are about 19 pending applications, he said.
"They're kind of taking their sweet old time," he said.
Exporting LNG would dovetail with the Obama administration's goal of slowing global warming, Gessing said. Natural gas emits about half the carbon emitted by coal.
"It's relatively clean burning," he said.
The U.S. should take advantage of the rich resource, Gessing said.
"We certainly need energy sources, and it'd certainly be great to embrace the energy potential we have here," he said.