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Herrell wants Biden to visit Artesia

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U.S. Reps. Pete Stauber, R-MN, Yvette Herrell, R-NM, Claudia Tenney, R-NY and Ronny Jackson, R-TX stand outside the Artesia Chamber of Commerce Thursday following a roundtable discussion with oil and gas industry insiders. Herrell urged President Joe Biden to come to Artesia to see how the oil and gas industry impacts the state, while criticizing his freeze on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Says leasing pause will be detrimental to New Mexico

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-New Mexico, said she would love for President Joe Biden to visit southeastern New Mexico, even as she publicly blasts his administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal public lands.

The first-term congresswoman, whose 2nd Congressional District includes the oil rich Permian Basin, said Thursday she would like Biden to come to Artesia to show him how the oil industry impacts the state.

“I would like to invite the President of the United States to Artesia, New Mexico to show him firsthand what is happening,” Herrell said during a press conference outside the Artesia Chamber of Commerce. Artesia is located in Eddy County, the state’s second-largest oil producing county.

Herrell, accompanied by fellow Republican Reps. Claudia Tenney of New York, Pete Stauber of Minnesota and Ronny Jackson of Texas, was in town to participate in a roundtable discussion with oil and gas industry insiders.

During the press conference Herrell warned the freeze on new oil and gas leases on federal public lands would have negative, far-reaching consequences, including oil and gas operations relocating to neighboring Texas, which has little federal land and fewer regulations.

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“These executive orders are going to be detrimental to New Mexico but also to the nation,” she said.

Biden in January signed an executive order which included the pause as part of a broader effort to combat global climate change.

Speaking at a virtual forum in Washington, D.C. Thursday, Deb Haaland, the Secretary of Interior and former New Mexico congresswoman, said a look at the current permitting process is needed because too often extraction of oil and gas has revolved around politics and not factored in environmental impacts.

Oil and gas operations on private and state public land would not be impacted but Herrell said the order still has a profound impact on oil and gas production levels because more than half of the natural gas and oil in New Mexico comes from public land.

She said the industry is a source of high-wage jobs as well as state revenue and school funding — all things Herrell said the renewable energy sector cannot replace.

“This will have a downward effect on our economies, our communities,” Herrell said. The average oilfield worker, she said, makes a salary that is far higher then those in a green energy industry would and jobs in that sector would be fewer.

“What we need to be doing is to fight to keep these jobs here, keep these communities fed in terms of the economy,” she said.

Jackson warned that if New Mexico and the United States does not develop its oil and gas, the United States will be reliant on countries like China, which have more lax environmental standards and higher emissions.

The visiting members of Congress also emphasized similar challenges in their districts. Stauber said his eastern Minnesota district relies heavily on mining and mineral extraction and said those industries face similar regulatory burdens. And in New York, Tenney said, a state ban on fracking prevents shale reserves in her district from being accessed.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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