For Immediate Release: August 26, 2021
Albuquerque, N.M. — On Aug. 26, elected officials, residents from across New Mexico and groups representing nearly 300,000 members sent a letter urging U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján to pledge their support to end federal fossil-fuel subsidies in the upcoming Budget Reconciliation bill. Representatives from Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, and New Mexico residents hand-delivered the letter urging the Senators to prioritize eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies and shared their concerns with staff at Senator Heinrich’s office in Albuquerque.
The fossil-fuel industry receives roughly $20 billion a year in federal subsidies for exploration and production — the oil and gas industry receives roughly 80 percent of this figure. These subsidies do not even address the impacts of fossil fuel extraction on the climate, environment, and public health. Fossil-fuel development on public lands and waters alone accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the decade to prevent climate catastrophe.
Senators Heinrich and Luján have acknowledged that New Mexico must move away from relying on the oil and gas industry for state revenue. New Mexico is the second-largest oil-producing state in the country and also one of the poorest states in the nation. The impacts of oil and gas drilling falls hardest on low-income communities and communities of color.
In their letter, the signers stressed that by continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, New Mexico will remain locked into an unpredictable boom-and-bust cycle and a legacy of sacrifice zones. Ending fossil-fuel subsidies is fiscally responsible, and President Biden has called for eliminating fossil-fuel giveaways in his American Jobs Plan.
The following are statements from those who signed on to the letter to Sens. Heinrich and Luján:
“Climate change is here, and we are already feeling the repercussions of drought, volatile weather patterns, and more,” said New Mexico House Rep. Andrea Romero. “We must do what we can to provide disincentives to further damaging our climate and subsidizing the oil and gas industry is the lowest hanging fruit there is to show our commitment to making this change.”
“We must end fossil fuel subsidies to hasten the transition away from reliance on this energy source which continues to contribute to our climate crisis,” said New Mexico state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.
“New Mexico is hit hard by climate change,” said Food and Water Watch Senior Organizer Margaret Wadsworth. “It’s time for our leaders to take action and demand the federal government stop subsidizing the very industry that is actively contributing to an unlivable climate in New Mexico.”
“This is a critical time to transform our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and stop supporting an industry that is destroying New Mexico’s people and places,” said Raena Garcia, Fossil Fuels and Lands Campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Ending fossil fuel subsidies will protect our climate and promote a more equitable, clean energy future for New Mexico.”
“Now is the time to enact bold reforms to the fossil-fuel industry and to invest in a renewable-energy future,” said Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Organizer Miya King-Flaherty. “We need our leaders to rise to the challenge of climate change, and ending fossil-fuel subsidies is a responsible and pragmatic approach.”
“NAVA Education Project urges Sen. Heinrich and Sen. Lujan to vote to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies in the budget reconciliation bill. This is a once in a generation opportunity to make massive investments and improvements to the nation’s infrastructure and as a Native American-led and Native American-serving organization, we are happy to know that Tribal Nations will benefit from this legislation, however, we must vehemently state that it cannot include subsidies for oil and gas companies whose operations disproportionately harm Indigenous Peoples, Communities of Color, and low-income residents who already bear the brunt of climate change,” said NAVA Education Project Media Coordinator, Chloe Jake. “The latest IPCC report makes it clear that there is no time left to act on this dire situation, we must embrace bold solutions not bailouts in order to avert the worst of the climate crisis.”
“The future of New Mexico’s schools and students is brighter with every step to diversify our economy and state revenue sources away from the colonial legacy of fossil fuel dependence,” said Do Good LLC Executive Director Charles Goodmacher.
“It is time to stop the subsidies for fossil fuels in New Mexico,” said co-leader of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, Linda Starr. “Oil and gas corporations must also pay for cleanup of their messes. It should not be up to taxpayers to clean up after these dirty children.”
“We know that at this point we’ll be bracing for the effects of 1.5C temperature rise no matter what we do but it is still within our power to try and stop the world from colliding head on with further warming catastrophe. That starts with ending fossil fuel dominance now,” said ProgressNow New Mexico Energy Policy Director, Lucas Herndon. “We need that to happen by any means necessary; starting with financial incentives is a good start.”
“Renewable Taos, an all volunteer organization promoting renewable energy and economic development in Northern New Mexico is *strongly* against subsidies to the fossil fuel industry,” said Renewable Taos Executive Board Member, Daniel A Pritchard. “We have the financial foundation in this state to not need the US Government’s support of fossil fuels. That industry has shown time and again that they are doing just fine without government subsidies!”
“As our region continues to see diminishing water sources and increasing air pollution, we cannot allow the fossil fuel industry to continue drying up our water supplies and further polluting our air and water,” said Las Vegas (NM) Peace & Justice Center Director, Pat Leahan. “The Las Vegas (NM) Peace & Justice Center and our partners in NE NM stand firmly against fossil-fuel giveaways and we will continue to do what we can to support a healthy and sustainable New Mexico.”
“Our country can’t continue to subsidize the very industry that is responsible for the ecological destruction of our planet, and the pollution of our air, land, and water,” said Center for Civic Policy Communications Director, Isaac J De Luna Navarro. “Our future generations deserve to have a clean environment in which to thrive, not only survive.”
“The Democratic Party of New Mexico’s state platform calls for “Transition tax breaks and subsidies from fossil fuel industries to renewable energy providers”. Support for repeal of these tax subsidies will help not only support the President’s critically important jobs program, but also begin to move New Mexico away from a fossil fuel economy,” said 1st Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Santa Fe County, David Thompson. “As a major oil and gas producer, our state has an important role to play in beginning this transition.”
“Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies will force oil & gas companies to systemically give back to frontline communities like our’s that they bring systemic issues to,” said Citizens Caring for the Future community organizer, Kayley Shoup. “Ending fossil fuel subsidies is an action that matches the moment we are in. We must take bold climate action to save our planet, and support communities that are ravaged by the oil industry.”
“Oil and gas developers and carbon burners and their supportive politicians and bureaucrats are complicit in killing the earth,” said former president of the Navajo Nation Shiprock Chapter, Chili Yazzie. “Which is more important, the bottom line at the bank or the future life of the earth and our grandchildren?”
“Moving to a sustainable energy future will require the energy giants of the past to clean up the mess they continue to make in New Mexico, polluting watersheds, releasing methane, and destroying landscapes,” said New Mexican resident, Nancy Woodward. “They have used their subsidies irresponsibly and deserve nothing more.”
“Subsidies should be reserved for cleaner energy systems (like solar and wind) that really need them,” said New Mexican resident, Margaret Hadderman. “Fossil fuel subsidies are so twentieth-century, horribly destructive, and should be withdrawn to speed our transition to cleaner systems before it is too late! See the latest IPCC for the grim details!”
Billions of subsidies are provided for the petroleum industry at a time when we should be curtailing the use of oil and gas,” said New Mexican resident, Catherine L Hobbs. “It makes no sense to financially support these industries at this time, if it ever did.”
“No More Subsidies to Gas and Oil,” said New Mexican resident, Kimberly Caputo-Heath. “As the gas and oil industry feels the crunch of divestment, New Mexicans make a clear statement that we will not be left trying to subsidize a dying business structure that pollutes our land with toxins that negatively affects the health of our people and the environment. No More!“
“Fossil fuel facilities represent stranded assets over the short to medium term of 20 years,” said New Mexican resident, F Cronshaw. “We need to move beyond fossil fuels’ contribution to climate change and invest in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.”
“We are in a climate crisis and subsidizing fossil fuels only helps exacerbate it. Fossil fuel subsidies should have been ended long ago,” said New Mexican resident, Marilyn Lohr. “Billions in profits have been made by fossil fuel companies–they do not need taxpayer subsidies.”
“It is crucial now that our tax dollars go to help mitigate and adapt to climate change, rather than continuing to fund the industries which contribute to the problem,” said New Mexican resident, Mary Jane Zimmerman. “We need bold shifts like this on a systemic level to support our transition to a sustainable society.”