While New Mexico teens are urging the governor to declare a climate emergency and to set aside state income from the oil and gas industries to pay for the transition to a clean economy, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham met with oil and gas tycoons and failed to even mention climate disruption.
If I were the governor’s speechwriter, here’s what I would have given her for that audience.
“Thank you for inviting me. This is an important gathering and I value the opportunity to speak with you about the serious challenges facing our state, and how we can work together to address them. I know your bottom line is making a profit for your shareholders, making a good living for those engaged in your industry and providing a sustainable future for the industry.
“My bottom line is being a responsible steward of our resources for future generations, my shareholders, and setting us on a path toward a sustainable future for my family and yours. There’s no denying the fact that climate disruption is bearing down upon us, and the window of opportunity to address this freight train is rapidly closing.
“I’m pleased that national leaders in your field (oil, coal and gas) recognize the urgency of addressing the impacts of climate disruption. They recognize that climate change is occurring and that human activity, including the use of fossil fuels, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
“New Mexico’s scientific labs have been studying climate change for decades and are at the forefront of studying climate impacts and potential adaptation and mitigation measures. They’re designing new technology that has the potential to make a profound difference in the livability of our planet for future generations. We need to reap the benefits of transitioning this research from the laboratory to the factory and create hundreds, maybe thousands of new jobs for New Mexicans.
“I’m a straight shooter. There’s no arguing with science, and no alternative exists but to transition away from business as usual and our reliance on fossil fuels, and toward renewable energy.
“This transition must happen quickly and I know it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt your industry. It’s going to hurt the state budget. It’s going to hurt every New Mexican. If we don’t own up to our responsibility at this critical moment now, I’m convinced that we’re condemning our children to a very difficult life, and their children to an uninhabitable planet in the future.
“I want your families and employees who are currently working in the oil and gas industry to be at the front of the line when opportunities for retraining open up in renewable technologies. And I want them to fill those new jobs when they come online.
“I want New Mexico to be the role model for the rest of the country and the world, to show how to accomplish this transition thoughtfully, without rhetoric or recrimination. Working together, we can forge a creative alliance that reaps untold benefits for all of us — a win, win, win. I need your experience and advice at the table.
“I plan to enact a moratorium on fracking on lands within the jurisdiction of the state. I’m well aware of both the benefits and costs of fracking, but the health and environmental impacts of fracking concern me. This moratorium will allow time for reasonable and informed debate at the Legislature about whether a permanent ban is warranted or what type of regulations might be appropriate to mitigate the impacts of fracking. I want the industry, the scientists and the general public engaged in that discussion.
Lora Lucero is a retired land use attorney who has lived and worked in New Mexico for over 25 years.