January 28, 2022

Proposed fund aims at move away from fossil fuel dependency

Kendra Chamberlain

New Mexico’s economy is tightly tied to the oil and gas industries and state Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, says that has to stop.

“New Mexico has always ridden the roller coaster of oil and gas,” he said.

Last week, Munoz introduced SB 122, which would create an economic diversification and climate resiliency fund.

How this fund could be used may be different in each part of the state. For example, Muñoz—whose district includes parts of San Juan and McKinley counties—said that Farmington may be able to use the fund to promote outdoor recreation while the Gallup area could use it to help attract or expand businesses. He gave the example of a latex glove factory that wants to expand and an autonomous vehicle company that has been looking at locating in the Gallup area.

The bill would also allow the funds to be used for conservation projects as well as restoration, remediation and improvements of public lands, including forests, watersheds, parks and trails. 

Muñoz said the only way to diversify and move the state away from fossil fuels is to set aside money for that specific purpose.

The two-page bill does not specify an amount of money for the fund, however it states that the “fund consists of distributions, appropriations, gifts, grants and donations to the fund.” If passed, the money would be appropriated by the Legislature for qualifying projects.