The Inflation Reduction Act brought a historic level of federal funding for clean energy projects, but the type of projects in New Mexico communities that currently rely on fossil fuels for an economic base do not necessarily come with long-term jobs.
For example, three manufacturing businesses announced they would be opening up plants in New Mexico as a result of the new incentives. These facilities are all located in and around Albuquerque. Meanwhile, wind and solar farms are being built in rural areas including places where fossil fuels have been the dominant economic driver. While these projects bring large numbers of construction jobs, those jobs are temporary.
Manufacturing plants like Maxeon’s pending solar manufacturing center in Albuquerque have the potential to create hundreds or even thousands of long-term jobs with good wages.
Long term jobs with good wages are the types of opportunities that the fossil fuel regions of New Mexico fear may be lost during the transition to clean energy.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is achieving economic growth at an impressive rate for a state that has not seen a large increase in population. She credits this to efforts her administration has undertaken to lay the foundation, invest in companies, address infrastructure needs, move toward an energy transition, diversify the economy and try new things.
ROSWELL AND CARLSBAD — At one end of Pauline and Joe Ponce’s spacious dining room in Roswell lies a cabinet crowded with photographs and mementos of their son, Michael. An old wrestling match program rests amid snapshots of Michael with his daughter, his parents, his wife. Pauline lingers beside an image of Michael holding his then one-and-a-half-year-old son, captured in December 2017. “That was taken only two months before Michael died,” she said. On the morning of Feb.
In the West, minorities are helping boost populations in rural areas, including in New Mexico. That’s what a recent report by the independent research group Headwaters Economics found. Analysts looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and compared the populations and demographics of rural counties from 1980 to 2015. Nearly every county saw a growth in minority populations, echoing the shift in demographics of the nation as a whole. This trend is as pronounced in New Mexico, which already has among he lowest percentage of white non-Hispanic white populations, as in any other western state.
Oil and gas companies reported fewer toxic spills in New Mexico last year than in 2015. According to the Center for Western Priorities’ 2016 Spill Tracker, companies reported 1,310 spills in 2016. Most of those occurred in Lea and Eddy counties, the site of most drilling activity in the state. The nonpartisan group’s Spill Tracker is based on publicly-available records from New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Division, which is within the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. According to the Spill Tracker, five companies were responsible for nearly 40 percent of all spills of crude oil, natural gas and produced water.
New Mexico has been giving marriage certificates to same-sex couples since 2013, after a state Supreme Court decision said that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage certificates to same-sex couples. New Mexico was the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Nationwide, same-sex marriage only became legal earlier this year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The opposition to the same-sex marriage has been signified by a county clerk in Kentucky who went to jail rather than give marriage certificates to same-sex couples. A federal judge ruled Kim Davis in contempt of court for failing to give such certificates despite numerous court rulings that said government workers cannot deny certificates to same-sex couples.
New Mexico has been one of the states that is happiest with the president who is elected, having voted for the winning candidate nearly every time in state history. Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, named after the director of the University of Virginia Center of Politics which publishes the website, says that New Mexico and Ohio are two states to keep an eye on when determining which candidate will become the next president if the past is any indication. These are known as bellwethers. Ohio narrowly edges New Mexico. Both have successfully voted for the winning candidate in all but two elections.