Widespread Concern in NM as Biden‘s Executive Order Halts New Oil & Gas Leases on Federal Land

Updated: Apr 13



In his first three days of office, President Joe Biden signed 30 executive orders. One of which will have a significant impact on the state of New Mexico.


Residents in New Mexico are anxious as the Biden administration's executive order "Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle, the Climate Crisis" will directly impact the oil and gas industry resulting in job loss. Senators in the state say it‘s time to rethink the nation's energy policies.


"It's also crystal clear that the zero-carbon, zero pollution economy is coming," Heinrich told The Associated Press. "Even oil and gas majors are planning for that future. To weather that change, New Mexico needs a transition plan with a predictable glide path for producers and robust investments in the communities where our energy veterans have produced our country's transportation fuels."

President Joe Biden imposed a 60-day moratorium on new oil, gas drilling permits on federal land on a day-one decision. The ban affects eight western states, including the Permian Basin (the most productive regions in the U.S.) that stretches to southeastern New Mexico. This decision will mostly have a significant impact on the state of New Mexico if it becomes permanent.


The state ranks first in oil production on public lands and second in natural gas. According to a recent study, with this moratorium, New Mexico will lose 207.7 billion in gross domestic product over the next 20 years. The drilling ban would eliminate 36,217 jobs per year. New Mexico depends on oil and gas to fund education and healthcare.


"With vast stretches of federal land, it is simply impossible to divorce our economic success from land management policy in western states like New Mexico, and funding for education, access to healthcare, and new infrastructure projects are all on the line. We are committed to doing our part to reduce emissions and protect the environment. Still, we cannot slap thousands of New Mexicans with proposals that destroy jobs and ravage communities," said President Ryan Flynn, NMOGA President.

New Mexico shares 50% of royalties from the federal government on oil production. Half of the state's oil and gas develops on federal land, and the revenue accounts for about a third of the state's budget. Many officials fear that job opportunities will leave New Mexico and head over the border to Texas.


"Certainly we all understand the critical importance of this industry to New Mexico's bottom line and of the imperative to diversify our state economy and energy portfolio," New Mexico Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, said through a spokeswoman.

Though the state is getting popular with wind farms, it does not collect any royalties from the alternate forms of energy.


" While other members of our congressional delegation have been reluctant to speak out against the president's actions, I hope you will join me in urging President Biden to reconsider any moratorium on new oil and gas leases in New Mexico," Freshman republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrel wrote in a letter to Gov. Lujan Grisham.

Herrel's letter was to ask Grisham to join her in protecting the state's jobs and interests.


Congressional members in the western states have raised concerns that this will hurt small businesses that are already struggling to survive due to the pandemic.


"During his inauguration, President Biden spoke about bringing our nation together. Eliminating drilling on public lands will cost thousands of New Mexicans their jobs and destroy what's left of our state's economy," Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway told The Associated Press.

President Biden plans to create 10 million clean energy jobs.


"The fossil fuel industry has inflicted tremendous damage on the planet. The administration's review, if done correctly, will show that filthy fracking and drilling must end for good, everywhere," said Kieran Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

President Biden plans to target practices like fracking and projects like the Keystone Pipeline – which construction was halted on his first week of presidency. With this moratorium, the plan is to allow officials to study the impact of oil and gas drilling on the environment and climate.


"People in this country need a job. This is about making that happen in the most creative and significant way that the federal government can," Gina McCarthy, Biden's climate change advisor, said at a White House briefing.

The executive order only affects federal land, not private lands. Oil and gas from public lands account for almost a quarter of annual U.S. production. In a news release from the Department of the Interior, the agency argued existing oil and gas leases would not be affected by the executive order. Under former President Trump, 1,400 permits on federal lands in Wyoming and New Mexico were approved. These permits remain valid and can continue drilling for years to come.



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