Opinion: Shifting from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy Is Complicated, but Necessary

Daniella Cressman

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New Mexico has a big budget to work with, and many state officials have used it to improve education, raise salaries, and make a truly positive difference in this state, but there is a dirty secret: All of these wonderful efforts have been funded with money from the fossil fuel industry.

In New Mexico, oil and gas account for 42 percent of state government income, a share that is rising amid the war in Ukraine and record-setting oil production in the Permian Basin that stretches across southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. Additional oil income flows to a new interest-bearing trust for early childhood education. —Morgan Lee and Mead Gruver

In a word, this makes matters complicated: We are facing devastating wildfires that are arguably the result of climate change, yet we continue to profit from polluting the environment.

The reason the oil companies have been so successful for so long is that they employ a lot of people, and they make a lot of people very rich. They also help states pay for community improvements such as building updates for schools, government financial assistance for residents, and raises for schoolteachers.

Money is power, and it can be used to affect positive change, but at what cost?!

New Mexico is already a state that is full of a lot of people who struggle financially and cope with poverty on a daily basis, and a small number rake in a lot of cash annually.

The shift to clean energy would likely result in major economic losses, yet continuing on this route could be extremely damaging long-term.

Additionally, much of the green technology that is available is not fully developed and (arguably) still needs some improvements, making it difficult for state officials to take the plunge.

“I agree with the overall mission of reducing greenhouse gas, but there’s an environment that exists at the state Legislature that we must electrify everything, we must mandate it, we must do it now...And these technologies are not yet ready for prime time. We simply don’t have the capacity to do it.” —James Scott

The reality is that, if these changes actually take place, property taxes will likely go up for residents of New Mexico.

“That’s a really challenging dynamic if you think about a shift away from fossil fuels. They’re going to be faced with the question: Do we raise our taxes on our residents or do we reduce the level of services we provide?” —Daniel Raimi

New Mexico has to confront its reliance on fossil fuels and make the transition to clean energy, even if that transition is gradual.

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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