CARLSBAD — Resiliency. That’s what the Executive Director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association described about the lifeblood of southeast New Mexico during a speech on Monday during the Carlsbad Mayor’s Energy Summit.
Ryan Flynn said the price market has been challenging. Speaking of challenges, Flynn and his group could be getting ready to hunker down next year as the state of New Mexico will be dealing with elections that will see new leadership in the governor’s office and possibly in the legislature.
It is no secret that some in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe corridor don’t show their support for the oil and gas industry like our region does.
“I think it’s really important that we as an industry are participating in campaigns,” Flynn said.
“Policy is formed on the campaign trail and so we can’t wait engaging on issues until either legislators or the governor arrive in office. We have to start talking to them on the campaign trail and really helping them understand our perspective,” Flynn added.
He said it’s important for oil and gas people to respond to questions that candidates may have between now and next year.
“For us it’s about making sure our story is told and we have a great story to tell. The economy is always front and center when it comes to the minds of New Mexicans and that continues in poll after poll to be the issue New Mexicans identify as being most important to them.”
Flynn added when it comes to New Mexico’s economy the oil and gas industry has the best story to tell. He said the industry employs around 100,000 people in the state. “We also provide about one-third of the state’s budget on an annual basis, nearly $2 billion in direct severance taxes are paid to the state through the oil gas industry,” he said.
What may get lost in the economic message is the environmental one. “We’ve seen the state and nation take some really great steps forward in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change,” Flynn said.
While there’s a big question mark facing the oil and gas industry in the coming year or so in the state, Flynn said it’s a different story on the federal level.
“Secretary Ryan Zinke, the head of the Department of Interior, has really brought in an increased focus on science driven policy,” Flynn said.
“We’re not seeing the kind of knee-jerk policy that’s being pushed by the environmental-political machine,” he added. “What we’re seeing is really rational decisions based on science to really move forward. At the end of the day what the industry craves is consistency. We’re not looking to lower any standards. We just want a clear direction on what the regulatory requirements are so that we can make planning decisions that are necessary and move forward.”
Flynn said the Trump administration has been “a course correction” from the Obama administration.
“It’s great when you hear people talk about cutting red tape, but where the rubber meets the road here in Eddy County is when you can actually reduce those permitting times. If you take the current permit times — which are about a year — and you reduce them to their legally required time of 30 days, what you see is a major uptick in investment activity and jobs in this region,” Flynn said.
Flynn said that NMOGA has play to both offense and defense when telling their story.
“What you’ve seen since I’ve taken over in the last year is tremendous support from our members who recognize that we need to be more aggressive in terms of telling our story and bringing our message directly to the public and educating people about our issues,” he said.
“We’re really focused on communicating with our state about our core messages,” he added.
Prior to joining NMOGA, Flynn was New Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment.
General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.