The metaphor of the fox in the hen house is overused. Self-policing by the oil and gas industry is more like a coyote in the school yard. He pays for the place. He can go where he wants and do what he likes.
Loosely regulated and in the driver’s seat of the economy, oil and gas dominates the Roundhouse. Efforts to restrain, regulate or alter New Mexico’s relationship with the industry are met with a collective moan from lobbyists who swat at bills like antagonizing flies. They use terms like, ‘industry economics demand’ and have some ‘business friendly’ Democrats on their side.
The problem with being ‘business friendly’ is that it nearly always means being unfriendly to someone or something else. Like employees or the environment.
Senator Soules bill SB 547 to ban fracking was tabled in Senate Conservation on 8-2 vote. Opponents to this and other ‘unfriendly’ bills testified there are ‘no verified cases of drinking water contamination’ and that oil and gas are the ‘lifeblood’ of the state and crucial to our economy and schools in particular. Dependence on tax revenue from non-renewables is never posed by industry advocates as regrettable. It’s a fact of life. A fact that conveniently dampens criticism.
We are further led to believe by the oil and gas industry proponents that frantic unregulated drilling is absolutely necessary to heat our homes. This is getting a little harder to dish out in light of renewables, but it is easy to consume without thinking. We do it with water too. We are sheltered from costs we don’t pay. Again, this is not a bad thing for oil and gas.