Opinion: New energy laws show Santa Fe's disconnect with the rest of the state

Larry Behrens
Power The Future
Larry Behrens

The men and women who work in New Mexico’s energy industry would be the last to stand up and take credit for all they have done for our state. Nonetheless, they deserve our gratitude.

There are over 100,000 energy employees in New Mexico and we proudly stand with each one of them. 

New Mexico’s energy workers deliver affordable and effective power that lights our cities and heats our homes. Our energy workers have made New Mexico a top producer in the United States and the energy they create delivers billions to our classrooms and makes every aspect of our way of life possible.

Growing up in southwest New Mexico, I had the opportunity first hand to see the positive impacts of the extractive industry on our communities. The industry provided some of the best jobs in the area which allowed families to continue to live where they wanted and enjoy the small-town way of life they treasured. Sure, there were upswings and downturns, but the workers always found a way to make their industry and their livelihood viable in rural New Mexico.

That’s why I am so concerned with what I see happening in our state. The disconnect between Santa Fe and the rest of New Mexico has become more glaring to the point where I don’t believe energy workers and their way of life are recognized for all they do.

Santa Fe politicians are being pushed by special interests from out-of-state funders passing laws that jeopardize our way of life. Ideas such as carbon free mandates and wild tax and spend plans are no doubt a cause for celebration in faraway metros like New York and San Francisco, but the results will be disastrous for New Mexico.

The most glaring example is when they passed the New Mexico Energy Transition Act. This measure will kill not only kill jobs in northwest New Mexico but will also cause electric bills for working families to skyrocket. 

How can we be so sure this will happen? Simple: this tired idea was tried before throughout the United States and the rest of the world and the result is always the same. States with renewable energy mandates see their electric rates rise faster and pay 26% more for electricity than other states. Those who don’t lose their job will be forced to shell out more money for their energy.

The sad truth about this fight is the other side claims they are fighting for the environment. As if the oil worker doesn’t care about the water in the family home or the coal miner has no concern about the air over their child’s school. Our energy workers don’t have the luxury of detachment like politicians in Santa Fe. Our energy workers care about their land, their communities and the environment because that’s where they live. 

This is really a debate about the culture in much of New Mexico. Generations of our families have enjoyed their way of life through jobs in energy production, hard rock mining, or ranching and farming. New Mexicans were able to live on their land and develop the resources needed for our way of life and they could be assured their children and grandchildren would have the same opportunities. 

That way of life seems unacceptable to the special interests from California and New York. Utilizing their Santa Fe allies, they continue to demonize workers and families in the name of the radical green agenda. Now is the time for the families, workers and businesses who deliver affordable and efficient energy to the world to stand up.

Those workers and families deserve much more than our gratitude. They deserve an ally who will fight for them and their way of life against radical environmentalists and their dangerous agenda. 

And we’re just getting started.

Larry Behrens is the Western States Director for Power The Future, an organization dedicated to supporting energy workers and enriching the national energy conversation.