President Joe Biden wasted no time in signing various executive orders to reverse the policies of his predecessor or advance the Democratic Party’s agenda.
One such action this week calls for a 60-day moratorium on new oil and natural gas leases as well as drilling permits on federal land.
New Mexico could be especially hard hit
As expected, the order was hailed by environmental activists and is widely seen on the left as a step toward dealing with the climate crisis.
The news did not please everyone in Biden’s party, however, and could have dire economic repercussions — especially in New Mexico.
Even many prominent Democrats in that state are hesitant to join in the celebration given the vital role that the oil and natural gas industry plays in its economy. New Mexico is far from the nation’s most prosperous state and depends heavily on drilling operations for public spending projects.
Each year, oil and gas operations bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the New Mexico economy, according to the most recent figures available.
In addition, the industry employs thousands of people across the state, meaning Biden’s order could further depress its jobs market.
“We all understand the critical importance”
The central problem for New Mexico is that its oil and natural gas operations largely take place on federal lands unlike other oil-rich states, like Texas.
Accordingly, a 60-day moratorium means the state is on pace to lose large amounts of vital revenue. Even Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham skirted the issue without fully endorsing Biden’s plan.
“Certainly we all understand the critical importance of this industry to New Mexico’s bottom line and the imperative to diversify our state economy and energy portfolio,” a spokesperson for the governor said.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway went a step further in his criticism, declaring: “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. How does that bring us together? Environmental efforts should be fair and well-researched, not knee-jerk mandates that just hurt an already impoverished state.”
This order was not the only act by the newly inaugurated president that reveals his administration’s climate policy priorities, including a move to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and another action that halts the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.