New Mexico’s Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has requested the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) grant her state a waiver from a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands President Joe Biden enacted shortly after taking office.
Reuters reports Lujan Grisham’s plea came in a Zoom conference call, a day after DOI announced it was considering whether the Biden administration’s climate agenda would justify imposing a permanent ban on new drilling leases on public lands and waters.
New Mexico Climate Policies Merit Exemption
During the March 10 Zoom call, Lujan Grisham told the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce that she was “clearly concerned” Biden’s leasing ban had been imposed “right out of the gate, with very little guidance.”
Lujan Grisham told the virtual meeting that she and her staff had recently met with DOI officials. During the DOI meeting, she said she argued the Biden administration should grant New Mexico a waiver from the leasing moratorium and any future possible ban because the policies the state has already enacted to fight climate change go far beyond what other states and the federal government have done.
In particular, Lujan Grisham pointed out to DOI that in 2019, New Mexico required 100 percent of electricity sales in the state come from sources which emit no carbon dioxide during generation by 2045. The state also established a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated in the state by 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Lujan Grisham said these laws, among others, like limits on methane emissions from oil and gas operations that are pending, should qualify the state from an exemption from any federal leasing ban.
“Create a program that gives credit to states that are well beyond where the federal government and other states are in terms of climate change initiatives, cleaning up the environment, curbing carbon emissions and having an all-of-the-above energy effort,” Lujan Grisham told the virtual meeting. “You do that, [and] New Mexico’s going to get an exemption, a waiver,” she said.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. (email@example.com) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.