Roughly 30,000 people travel to New Mexico every year to take in the sights of the annual Balloon Fiesta. The Balloon Fiesta, which originated in 1972, has grown exponentially over the years and is now the largest balloon festival in the world!1http://www.balloonfiesta.com/ This spectacular site, however, takes energy. To fly just one hot air balloon for about an hour takes around 20 to 30 gallons of propane gas is consumed.2http://www.hotairballoon.org/vermont/faq.html With all of the hundreds of colorful balloons that take flight every year, and the many other festivals New Mexico has to offer, it is easy to forget exactly what and how much is needed to power these events and the state as a whole.
Energy is not something most people, including New Mexicans, think about on a day-to-day basis – it’s so easy to take it for granted. That is because it is so easy to turn on the lights and illuminate the dark desert nights or switch on a fan to ease the dry desert heat. For most people, little or no thought goes into how that energy makes its way to our homes or just what goes into making sure we can drive our cars or flip on a switch wherever we go. Energy is essential to power almost all aspects of our lives. For New Mexicans in particular, energy does more than power cellphones or keep our refrigerators cool, it also helps businesses operate and meet their budgets, which ultimately helps contribute to the overall vitality of the economy.
In New Mexico alone, the oil and gas industry supports an estimated 105,000 jobs and contributed roughly $11.3 billion to the New Mexico economy, which includes things like funding for schools and even road repairs. Having access to low-cost oil and gas also helps other industries like agriculture.3https://www.nmoga.org/benefits_of_oil_natural_gas
One of the most important ingredients in New Mexican cooking, the chilie, relies on reliable and affordable energy to plant and harvest. As the number one state in the nation for chilie production, this beloved fruit is a stable in every New Mexican’s diet – despite whether you prefer red, green or Christmas. While New Mexico is known for its chilies, as far back as 2,500 years ago, people have been farming corn, squash and beans in the state. With over 24,700 farms, 90% of which are owned by New Mexican families, the agriculture industry contributed over $2.5 billion to the state economy producing familiar and delicious products like onions, pecans, and various kinds of meat.4https://www.farmflavor.com/new-mexico-agriculture/ All of New Mexico’s top exports rely on various types of machinery to plant, water and harvest, and fertilizers to help them grow – making fuel one of the key elements to running a farm. Low energy helps reduce costs and lower budgets for these family farmers to ensure they can grow their crops, raise their sheep or cattle, and hopefully make a profit.
While New Mexico New Mexico has been fairly stagnant in oil and gas production over the last 10 years, after a year of reinvigoration, it is now the third largest oil and gas producer in the U.S.5https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/new-mexico/articles/2018-01-03/new-mexico-moves-up-in-oil-and-gas-rankings This is good news for individuals, families and small businesses as well as the state’s budget which receives close to 31% of its funding from taxes and fees charged to the oil and gas industry.
That’s why it is so important to continue to have fair and honest discussions about energy in the state of New Mexico, especially oil and gas as part of an all-of-the-above strategy. It is also important that elected officials take the opportunity to adopt new policies that support all types of energy production and delivery as well as environmental stewardship – because we can have both.
Energy is not only vital to growing our communities, our agriculture sector, and our state budget, it is also vital in attracting, transporting, and elevating the experiences that thrill millions of tourists who visit the Land of Enchantment each year to see the state’s beauty and take in the attractions. Year after year, New Mexico continues to break its tourism record. Whether you enjoy a relaxing quiet hike up the Sandia Mountains or into the Sangre de Cristos’s or if you prefer to take in the view at a faster pace as you kayak through the rapids of the Rio Grande River, New Mexico’s outdoor activities are exciting adventures that more than just New Mexicans want to enjoy. And, as tourism in the state continues to grow, the economy will continue to grow – by adding hotels, restaurants, and more to expand what the state can offer its visitors so they can enjoy everything that New Mexico has to offer.
The point is – as New Mexico continues to grow – phones, computers, and TVs will need to be charged, homes will need to be cooled in the summer and warmed in the winter, appliances will still need power and cars will still need gas. Unlike other states across the nation, New Mexico has the ability to expand its domestic production and its economy while creating new, family-supporting wage jobs within the state. It could help ensure New Mexican families not only have affordable energy they need while also elevating the state of our economy and alleviating the troubling statistics that our state has been plagued with. With the support of friends and neighbors, policymakers and business leaders, we can change the narrative and broaden awareness around all of the resources New Mexico has to offer. It’s time to change the narrative, elevate the people of New Mexico and lead the nation as we continue to work at staying an energy leader, all while becoming energy dominant.
People across our state don’t need to live paycheck-to-paycheck and they definitely shouldn’t have to choose what expenses in their life they can afford. It is now more important than ever to realize New Mexico’s place on a national stage, and tell a story that inspires job creation, a healthy economy, money for schools and first responders who jobs are amplified by ancillary funding that is given by the oil and gas industry. It is important to look at what we can do if we come together in thoughtful discussion to provide our state with the resources if needs to be a leader, creating places where our children can live and raise future generations of New Mexicans just like the ones before them. The time is now.