Energy advocacy group to open mobile office
FARMINGTON — Consumer Energy Alliance — a Houston-based pro-energy group with chapter offices in Texas, Alaska and Florida — plans to become more actively involved in energy policy and advocacy in New Mexico.
Shawn Martini, CEA communications director, said the nine-year-old group — that advocates for energy policy that "ensures affordable energy for consumers" — has taken a greater interest in energy policy and regulatory action in the state in the last few years.
The result is a "mobile chapter" office, Martini said.
"Northwest New Mexico, for our organization's purposes, is a focus ... for us," Martini said during a visit to Farmington on Wednesday. "That's why we're setting up shop here, to tout the benefits of the industry and what comes with it and help people better understand the energy industry's role in the state."
But the group isn't able to afford to expand into a bricks-and-mortar office with a state-level executive director. Instead, Martini said that he will travel from his Denver office to the Four Corners area twice a month or more to meet with industry, local and state officials and the general public to show its support for the energy industry.
Martini said he will introduce his group in Albuquerque today at the 2nd Annual New Mexico Energy Outlook Summit.
In the coming months, Martini said, CEA hopes to launch a local advisory board with members from industry and local, state and economic development groups. An initial meeting or event has yet to be scheduled, he said.
He said he plans to return to the area early next month to show support for hydraulic fracturing operations around Chaco Culture National Historical Park. In March, a coalition of environmental groups filed suit in federal court to protest the BLM's permitting of hydraulic fracturing wells in that area. The BLM Farmington Field Office is expected to finalize its amended resource management plan for the area by the end of the year.
"The coal plants, issues with the Clean Power Plan, venting and flaring, all these types of rules that make it hard to produce and keep people at work and keep the economy growing when we're faced with low oil prices, it makes it really difficult," Martini said. "So we're going to do what we can to provide a voice for the consumers to say, 'Hey, (energy production) is something we need.' We can have both production and environmental protection. We don't need the types of regulations that are going to severely limit the types of production in the area here that hurt schools and our kids' future here."
For more information on CEA, call 713-337-8820 or go to consumerenergyalliance.org.
James Fenton is the business editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621.