Herrell defends New Mexico oil and gas against climate change concerns

Yvette Herrell has quickly risen through the ranks of the Republican Party in Congress since being elected in 2020 to represent New Mexico’s oil-rich second congressional district in the United States House of Representatives and hopes to translate two years of defense of fossil fuels in re-election in November.

The Herrell District encompasses large swathes of southern New Mexico containing the oil fields of the Permian Basin – the most active fossil fuel region in the United States.

Subsequently, the Alamogordo native’s time in Congress has been largely defined by his support for oil and gas, and his efforts to push to reduce what the congresswoman called “bureaucracy” and regulatory barriers to development. American energy.

After:Air pollution from oil and gas in the Permian Basin leads the federal government to investigate by plane

As one of his first acts in office, and under the administration of President Joe Biden, Herrell joined a legislative effort to oppose Biden placed on new oil and gas leases of federal public lands, and another to exempt New Mexico from any future similar restrictions.

Neither bill had advanced through Congress since its introduction, records show.

Preventing fossil fuel production through federal regulations would put America on dependence on foreign sources with fewer environmental regulations, Herrell said.

After:Closing of $219 million oil and gas land sale in the Permian Basin, company benefits from growth in the region

Congresswoman Yvette Herrell (RN.M.)

“I think we need to educate people about energy in terms of the importance of the fossil fuel sector,” Herrell said in a recent interview with the Carlsbad Current-Argus.

“Each energy has its place, but I think we have to be aware that our energy demands are not going to decrease, they are going to continue to increase. Thank goodness we live in a nation that produces cheaper and cleaner oil and gas than anywhere else in the world.”

She won re-election in November, beating Democratic Las Cruces Councilman Gabe Vasquez, who, like many in his party, has criticized the environmental impact of fossil fuels and supported policy to reduce climate change and support alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Powerful.

After:Oil and gas are spending thousands on the June primary. New Mexico GOP hopes to win big in November

“We have a fundamental responsibility to leave a better world for our children, but uncontrolled pollution from dirty and obsolete energy sources puts the health and future of our children at risk,” read a statement from the company. Vasquez campaign.

Recent Global Strategy Group polls have shown Vasquez’s approach could win over the New Mexicans, giving him a slight 1-point edge over incumbent Herrell, 45% to 44%.

She said she plans to debate Vasquez before the election, and Herrell was firm in her support for New Mexico’s main industry, which accounts for more than a third of its budget, and the region which produces 40% US crude oil. .

After:Permian Basin oil and gas could be lower as prices fall and the market struggles

She was recently selected by the leadership of the GOP, which holds a minority in Congress, as a ranking member of the subcommittee on the environment on the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Upon taking office, Herrell denied the role of climate change in New Mexico’s recent record-breaking wildfires that raged across the north and southwest of the state, calling for more forest management, but in same time, arguing that such considerations should be removed from industrial permits. process, limiting the role of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

She pointed to the Hermits Peak Calf Canyon fire – the largest on record in New Mexico – which burned more than 300,000 acres this spring, attributed to a prescribed burn started by the National Forest Service that got out of control, an incident that some experts have linked to increased aridification in the area caused by pollution and resulting climate change.

After:Oil and gas operations are responsible for earthquakes in the Permian Basin. New Mexico takes action

“I don’t see the connection to fossil fuels,” Herrell said of the wildfires. “We can all go back and watch the trends with the weather. People want clean air and clean water. I think the missing piece is having these honest conversations. I mean, look at the investments these companies are making.

Permian oil and gas companies have made broad commitments to reduce their emissions in recent years, Herrell said, and therefore their environmental impacts.

She said the industry could be a leader in the fight against climate change and should be supported by public policy.

After:$600 million sale of Sendero Midstream completed amid growing interest in Permian Basin oil and gas

“At the end of the day, I think we all take the fossil fuel industry for granted. If we’re going into climate, wouldn’t it be better to rely on American companies? is cleaner and better for the environment,” Herrell said.

Despite his advocacy of the oil and gas industry as an economic engine essential to national security via “American energy independence,” Herrell was reluctant to support the growing nuclear industry in southeastern New Mexico, which, according to local leaders, would help diversify the oil-dependent region.

She said a proposal by Holtec International to build a temporary facility for spent nuclear fuel had “more questions than answers”. A recently finalized environmental impact statement issued by the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission saw minimal impact and recommended that a license be issued.

After:Where do New Mexico voters stand on oil and gas for the November election? Climate change?

Last year, the NRC issued a license to another company Interim Storage Partners to build a smaller but similar facility just over the state line in Andrews, Texas, and both projects have been widely opposed by heads of state in both states – Republicans and Democrats – who feared it would jeopardize nearby oil, gas and agricultural industries.

“I think we have to be very careful about what we get into,” Herrell said. “It’s not exactly something we know very well. I don’t think that’s necessarily something that everyone wants.

“There is a lot of opposition”

Holtec company officials and Carlsbad and Hobbs city leaders were united in their assertion that the NRC report was definitive that the project was safe to proceed and was needed to sustain growth. continues in the region.

“The NRC’s final environmental impact statement confirms that the HI-STORE CISF will have no adverse impact on our community,” Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said in a statement following the report.

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, [email protected] or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.