Last Sunday, New Mexico House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, a former energy executive, complained in a guest column for this newspaper that the hydrogen hub bill that I sponsored in the last legislative session had “no measurable environmental benefit”. When did Townsend, R-Artesia, become so concerned about climate change?
Aside from the insincerity of Townsend’s argument, it is also incredibly myopic and factually incorrect. Hydrogen offers enormous environmental and economic potential to the people of New Mexico. Hopefully we can harness that power for good, but reinventing New Mexico’s energy future is going to require looking beyond our own noses.
The bill I introduced last session would have provided incentives for producers of clean hydrogen energy, capitalizing on our state’s existing energy infrastructure to help position us as leaders in this growing field. boom, and ensuring that our clean energy transition brings all new Mexicans on. These are worthy and necessary goals, ones that I will continue to fight for as long as I am responsible for representing the people of the home of District 9.
My top priorities as a Gallup State Representative have always been to create and protect jobs and economic opportunity for people in my community. Like Townsend, I understand the important role our energy sector plays in our state. For generations, people in my district of northwest New Mexico have supported their families with well-paying jobs in the oil and gas industry. Unlike Townsend, I have long accepted the reality that climate change is real and needs to be addressed.
We don’t have to look far to see the impacts of climate change – record droughts, floods and wildfires make it clear that failure to act could have catastrophic effects in New Mexico. But finding the most effective solutions to these challenges requires us to be more far-sighted. If we play our cards right, investing in hydrogen power generation can help us meet our climate goals while creating and protecting good-paying jobs for New Mexicans.
We can and must protect our environment and our economy at the same time. Townsend may attempt to dismiss this reality as a “fairy tale,” but I’m sure New Mexicans see through his shifting arguments for inaction. I pledge to continue pushing for a brighter economic and environmental future for my community and our state as a whole, and I hope other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will join me. .
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