New Mexicans know very well that we are living in a ‘toxic’ relationship. For far too long, the oil and gas industry has created a dependency model which has trapped our people into thinking ‘we are nothing without oil and gas.’
Well, this is a lie.
Our destiny as New Mexicans is not defined by an industry based on ecological destruction — rather by our love to our people, land and culture. We have a prosperous and healthy future awaiting, without the need to sacrifice our communities health and wellbeing.
It feels counterintuitive to see policymakers, fossil-fuel friendly organizations, and oil and gas lobbyists continuing to look into how corporations can drill more in New Mexico —almost remaining oblivious to the fact we are living in a climate crisis that isn’t getting any better. Right here in New Mexico, we are experiencing extended droughts and diminishing flows of our vital water sources.
Yet, policymakers and fossil fuel CEOs believe that opening more doors to the elite polluters will solve the problem. Including continuing to tap into our scarce fresh water sources for fracking purposes without any accountability for the depletion of this vital resource or the contamination of our communities through their produced water spills.
To be clear, the crisis we are living in was not caused by us — everyday New Mexicans that want a prosperous future for our communities. The climate crisis was caused by the fossil fuel corporations and their CEO’s greed to continue extracting regardless of the climate catastrophe we are heading into.
The core of the toxic relationship we are living is alive and being fed at our state’s capitol. Just during the 2021 legislative session, we saw the oil and gas industry blocking bold policies that would ensure our state could become a nationwide leader in addressing climate change. These policies ranged from reducing pollution, to stop the use of fresh water for fracking, to creating an environmental bill of rights for all New Mexicans.
A recent report by Common Cause New Mexico and New Mexico Ethics Watch states that, since 2017, the industry has spent $11.5 million on contributions to fossil-fuel-friendly politicians. According to the report, only 8 current elected officials have pledged not to take fossil fuel money. This means many in our government are bought out by oil and gas elites.
So then again, how does New Mexico expect to become a climate justice leader if the people in power writing policies are still accepting the money from the strangers coming into our homes to destroy and poison our future?
The people of New Mexico deserve better than to be dependent on the industry destroying our state and the planet. New Mexicans deserve bold leadership willing to rise up to the moment. New Mexicans deserve leadership that is committed to rebuilding an economy that works for our people and is based on the respect and love we have for our families and our environment.
It all starts from the top. Policymakers and state leaders cannot talk about climate justice while also taking money from the oil and gas industry. Our communities deserve and demand better.
Jared Berenice Estrada is an organizer with Dreams in Action NM.
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