Paul Gessing, president of the limited government think tank Rio Grande Foundation, is convinced natural gas could revolutionize New Mexico's economy — if the Obama administration will get out of the way.
Here are snippets from a recent column:
New Mexico is among the nation's leading producers of natural gas. It has seen incredible growth in production with the advent of horizontal fracking and new drilling techniques resulting in a 25 percent increase in U.S. production since 2007.
The advent of cheap, plentiful natural gas has caused production and drilling to decline temporarily in New Mexico, but the trend holds great opportunity for our state as well. Why is cheap, plentiful natural gas a good thing?
- It's relatively green. Compared to coal, natural gas generates less than half of the carbon and a fraction of the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particles such as ash;
- It could drive a rebirth of American industry. Natural gas is a feed-stock in many chemicals and plastics.
- It can be exported for the economic benefit of New Mexicans and the U.S. as a whole.
So, why do natural gas prices remain depressed and why have producers like ConocoPhillips said they will suspend drilling operations in New Mexico?
Simply put: the Obama administration.
According to Bloomberg News, the administration is debating whether to allow these producers to export liquefied natural gas to countries with which the U.S. has no free-trade agreement. Until the administration makes a decision, investments in the infrastructure necessary to export large amounts of natural gas from New Mexico will not be made.
Why would Obama not support an environmental win that could also boost the economies of New Mexico and several other natural gas-producing states?
Simply put, it's an unholy alliance of "big business" and "big green."
Big business … likes the concept of having feed stock for its products available at a fraction of the cost found overseas and, while it supports free trade for its own products, it refuses to apply that same principle in ways that might reduce its competitive edge.
Big green groups … are adamantly opposed to the fracking process, which has been in use for decades.
New Mexicans uniquely benefit from the jobs and tax revenues associated with natural gas production and could benefit to an even greater extent if the Obama administration embraces free trade in natural gas.