The front page of this week’s Santa Fe Reporter, Making it Go ‘Boom’, focuses on the industrialized oil and gas development besieging the Permian Basin of southeastern New Mexico and how activity is bolstered by aggressive new political strategies that were unveiled by New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s Executive Director Ryan Flynn during the 2017 annual meeting in October.
WildEarth Guardians received a copy of Flynn’s speech, and we believe the public has a right to know how an industry front group is positioning itself to pour oil money into politics and steamroll over public lands, clean air and water in New Mexico.
As former head of the New Mexico Environment Department, Ryan Flynn was criticized for being too close to oil and gas interests before leaving to chair the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA). Flynn has attracted charges of violating ethics practices and received two “toxic turkey awards” from the New Mexico Environmental Law Center as a person whose actions have endangered New Mexico’s environment.
Focused on attacking critics of the oil and gas industry and directly influencing politics, Flynn’s speech declared a “new NMOGA” and outlined changes to the industry organization, which included:
- Lifting restraints on political interference and spending;
- Creating a massive voter database to influence state politics;
- Buildng an “army” of astroturf oil and gas advocates;
- Competing with community led “opposition” to the oil and gas industry;
- New logo, tag-line, and website.
Flynn nonsensically believes that non-profit environmental groups have budgets that compare with the richest and most irresponsible industry on the planet. Targeting WildEarth Guardians and other allies, NMOGA is reshaping to attack environmental advocates, pouring even more amounts of unprecedented amounts money into politics, aiming to become “the most powerful organization in the state of New Mexico, period.”
But no matter how many dollars flow from industry front groups trying to convince us otherwise, oil and gas will never be safe, clean, or good for our health or climate. Now, industry wants us to believe we can frack our way to a better future, but as a state still dealing with the cleanup and fallout of boom and bust extractive industries, a methane hot-spot visible from space, and increasing risks of exposure to fracking pollutants, New Mexicans know better.
“Opposition to hydraulic fracturing,” he said, “presents the greatest threat to our industry and to our license to operate moving forward…That sentiment now crosses party lines, he said, a shift from just a few years ago that he attributes to prolonged campaigns about concerns like fracking near Chaco Canyon. If taken to the polls today, he said, “we would see an overwhelming majority of New Mexicans take action to prohibit hydraulic fracturing.”
It’s clear that while NMOGA spends its coffers to reduce regulations and further frack the Land of Enchantment, New Mexicans will be struggling with the impacts and related health costs of increased fracking, including increased cancer and related health impacts, record-breaking oil and gas ‘incidents,’ and continued assaults on Indigenous rights, clean air and water.
At WildEarth Guardians, we’re fighting back. Along with allies, our Frack Off Chaco campaign is fighting for environmental justice and Indigenous rights, opposing fracking across the Greater Chaco Landscape. We’re fighting for climate and public health, challenging every oil and gas lease sale on public lands in the West. And, we’re fighting for free speech and transparency, filing a record-number of public information requests, available online.
The stakes are too high, and everyone knows it. The Big Apple suing Big Oil is the icing on the cake; the world knows we need to #KeepItInTheGround and justly transition away from fossil fuels.
Flynn warned environmental groups like WildEarth Guardians won’t settle until we bring an end to rampant fossil fuel development. On that point alone, he’s exactly right.
A copy of Flynn’s transcript can be downloaded here >>