I am alarmed that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is pushing for an exemption from the Biden government’s pause in the new lease of oil and gas on federal land. An exemption would be harmful to local communities, our natural heritage and the future of our planet. The governor is now a grandmother and I believe she wants to protect our Earth for her grandchildren and all of our children. New Mexico should not be exempt from federal climate mandates.
Lujan Grisham demonstrated national leadership in renewable energy, however, building more solar panels alone will not solve our climate crisis; we must also systematically reduce our emissions.
According to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United States will need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. To achieve this goal, all states must be part of Biden’s plan to reduce emissions.
A moratorium on public land fracking leases is a first step in reducing emissions, but it will not stop the industry. In New Mexico, there are 60,000 active oil and gas wells, with more than 31,000 wells on federal public lands. In the Trump era, the oil and gas industry stored 5,000 new, but unused, federal drilling licenses. It will take years for the industry to extract. The moratorium proposed by Biden will not interrupt the production of wells on land already leased. Therefore, the fear propaganda of the oil and gas industry is unfounded.
Greenhouse gas emissions lead to a warmer and drier climate in the southwest. The last decade has been the hottest on record. In 2021, New Mexico is heading towards a severe and historic drought. Large portions of Rio Grande are going to dry up and farmers were asked not to plant. Even in the face of this local crisis, New Mexico politicians are not passing climate legislation. Many still protect the interests of oil and gas companies. It is time to protect our water, air and land for our communities.
As a mother, I am painfully aware of our ever-decreasing carbon budget, before we reach catastrophic climatic tipping points. We have a chance now to reduce emissions and protect our Earth. Now is the time for bold leadership and ambitious solutions to deal with the climate. I am calling on the governor and our elected officials to join the Biden government and our new interior secretary, Deb Haaland, in protecting our public lands and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Anni Hanna is a mother, educator and climate activist in Albuquerque.