NM Governor Exposes Energy Rift At DNC







Former Vice President Joe Biden’s climate/energy plan calls for an executive order on “day one” banning new natural gas and oil drilling on federal land. However, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is scheduled to speak at the DNC tomorrow evening, has made it clear that Democrats are not united on this front.  If Biden wins the election, Governor Lujan Grisham preemptively told Reuters “she would request the Democratic president provide her state a waiver exempting it from any drilling ban ‘to allow us to continue to produce in New Mexico.’”

The governor, who will also participate in the DNC’s panel “Bold Leadership: Women Governors Leading the States,” is making it evident that the primary isn’t the party. She has repeatedly touted the positive impacts that the natural gas and oil industry has had in her state, and she is not the only New Mexico Democrat sounding the alarm over a ban:

  • Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM): “I know that if we were to shut down oil and gas drilling in New Mexico today, we’d have to shut down our schools tomorrow, statewide.” (Carlsbad Current-Argus, 11/19/19)
  • Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM): “Outright bans risk unintended consequences like shifting production to places like Venezuela and Russia.” (Carlsbad Current-Argus, 11/19/19)
  • WATCH: Governor Lujan Grisham: Natural gas and oil has put New Mexico in a “very good situation” with “significant resources” to fund free college tuition and “I have no doubt this will change the dynamic of New Mexico forever.” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, 9/30/19)
  • Gov. Lujan Grisham: “Without the oil and gas industry, without the energy effort in this state, no one gets to make education the top priority moving forward.” (Reuters, 11/1/19)

The proposed Biden ban would jeopardize good paying, union jobs, hamper America’s economic recovery, and erode a key tax revenue stream that many states use to fund education programs. This is especially true in New Mexico where 31.7% of the state is federally owned and about two-thirds of current drilling takes place on federally-controlled land:

  • According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, the natural gas and oil industry supported over 117,000 jobs in New Mexico and contributed more than $17 billion to the state’s economy in 2018.
  • The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee reported that 35% of the state’s revenue came from activity related to the natural gas and oil industry in FY2019.
  • Reuters: “more than $1 billion of the state’s $2.4 billion in oil-and-gas revenue goes to public schools.”

It’s unknown whether the Biden campaign is aware of the Governor’s request for a waiver, or whether they would be open to granting the governor’s request if Biden wins the White House.