WSTN's Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jason Sandel, wrote a compelling op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal today sharing the immediate impacts of a federal leasing ban on New Mexico. In it, he asks newly-confirmed Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland - who made history by becoming the United States' first Indigenous Cabinet member - to balance respect for energy and the environment in her decision-making:
As a registered Democrat whose livelihood is immersed in oil and gas, I am unique. And yet I appreciate the commitment of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Biden administration to combat climate change.
In our family-run business, we dedicate ourselves not for personal riches, but for our employees and their families. We are certainly not “Big Oil,” nor are we hoarding permits, but we do take pride in our community and our contribution to it.
Already, we have seen the immediate impacts of President Joe Biden’s executive order to pause oil and gas leasing and permitting on federal lands. We had brought one of our drilling rigs – which directly employs 25 people and accounts for 100 more indirectly – into action but recently laid it down due to the pause.
Further down, he lays out the intricacies of the challenge ahead, and how respect for the environment and the energy industry must be part of the ongoing dialogue about them:
As New Mexicans, we support the idea of a cleaner future and have a tradition of implementing strong environmental safeguards. Yet, federal leasing and permitting delays have dire implications within our community. We can’t even begin to think about the long term when putting food on the table tomorrow is in jeopardy.
As Haaland said, “There is no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come.” Certainly, this is true; and most likely natural gas will elevate in significance as we transition to net zero by 2050. As we collaborate and find the balance, I pray our leaders will stay committed to a developing a comprehensive energy portfolio that respects people – especially those in critical industries like oil and gas.
Please read the rest at the Albuquerque Journal.