No private-sector industry employs more New Mexicans than the oil and gas industry. In fact, about one in 10 people in New Mexico work in the sector, and 25 percent of the state’s general fund—which provides funding for public schools, higher education, and services that support health and public safety—comes directly from these companies and the economic activity they generate. As I learned during a recent trip to Albuquerque, AFPM members are helping New Mexicans in every corner of the state, and they have the potential to make an even greater impact.
In October, I spoke at the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry’s (ACI) annual Fall Policy Summit. ACI is the state chamber of commerce, and every year convenes New Mexico’s top business leaders to discuss pressing policy issues. Energy, workforce development and the upcoming legislative landscape were major topics throughout the day, and the positive impacts of AFPM members and the opportunity for real economic growth in New Mexico generated a lively discussion with an emphasis on the importance of this moment to the state’s future.
My presentation emphasized the benefits of a strong refining industry and the important role that AFPM members like Western Refining and HollyFrontier Corporation play in New Mexico’s economy. We discussed the dangers of an overreaching EPA and how proposed regulations could harm the state’s economy. And there is a lot to protect, as New Mexico’s oil and gas sector is a major contributor to the state’s economic security with 68,800 direct, indirect and induced jobs.
Unrealistic and unattainable air quality standards mandated by the EPA could have a severe impact on New Mexico and the rest of the country. It’s estimated that an overly stringent National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone (commonly known as Ozone NAAQS) would threaten 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and could cause a $270 billion reduction in the annual U.S. GDP by 2040. New Mexico alone could see a loss of more than 7,000 jobs per year through 2020. In today’s economy, where many families are struggling to make ends meet and every single job makes a difference, that’s something that New Mexicans just can’t afford.
The oil and gas industry will continue to benefit New Mexicans as long as decision-makers are willing to take a pragmatic approach to regulation. With so much on the line, the state needs to continue to support the industries that ensure economic security for every New Mexican, from Albuquerque to Artesia.