We no longer need to choose between protecting the environment and economic propsperity
The global energy market has tipped definitively toward sustainable energy. That’s good news for all of us – if we can get off the dime quickly enough to avoid being left behind.
As much as oil and gas have been essential to the New Mexico economy, the hard reality is that dependence on a single nonrenewable source is not sustainable. That’s why it’s just good common sense to take the record-high windfall from oil and gas revenues and invest in new and more sustainable technology. In addition, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I am happy to report that we budgeted millions of dollars in the 2023 legislative session for renewable energy development, advanced energy technology projects, energy transition assistance, and to develop and implement actions related to climate change. These investments are necessary to protect our environment and continue to strengthen New Mexico’s economy for generations to come. To reap the full economic and environmental benefits of this transition will require New Mexico to bring the full weight of our technical and scientific resources to bear. This includes carbon capture and storage and hydrogen technology, both of which are key to making the transition to sustainable energy.
Carbon capture and storage is a technology that has been around for decades and is the subject of much misinformation. Essentially, it directly captures the CO2 produced into the air during manufacturing and energy production and stores it in secure underground formations, where it can’t enter the atmosphere. It’s an essential step towards making traditional energy sources as emissions-free as possible while continuing to aggressively move towards cleaner energy. If we’re going to get to net zero, we’re going to have to do both.
Along with helping the environment, carbon capture and storage also has the potential to diversify our economy. A single carbon capture retrofit will create thousands of jobs, many of which will be stable, long-term, and high-paying.
One of the most intriguing byproducts of carbon capture and storage is hydrogen, which is not without its controversies because, again, the technology is the subject of much misinformation.
Hydrogen production has been complex in the past, in part due to high costs. However, extracting hydrogen through carbon capture technology, which we need to implement anyway, can reduce these expenses.
We must move towards sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, hydroelectric, and battery storage as quickly as possible. But while we do that, the reality is that we’re still going to be burning traditional fossil fuels until we’ve fully made the transition; as long as that’s happening, it makes sense to make those sources as clean as they can be. Carbon capture and storage and the resulting hydrogen production is an immediate solution we can implement as we continue to aggressively bring more sustainable forms of energy production into the fold.
There’s nothing particularly unusual or radical about these technologies. 80% of countries tracking towards a long-term plan to lower emissions enshrine Carbon Capture and Storage into their long-term energy and climate strategies. New Mexico has yet another opportunity to join the global movement toward sustainability. I hope we take it.