Take a deep breath, New Mexicans and others frequently exposed to the second-hand fumes of the oil and gas industry. This may be your last chance to do so without taking a huge dose of methane up your snout.
Proving once again that where the Trump Administration is concerned, 2 heads are worse than one, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are combining their crania to unleash any legal restraints on the release of one of the worst greenhouse gas climate killers.
They are doing this to protect those poor folks in the energy extraction industry from actions which are, as they put it, still being litigated. They don’t mention that they and their colleagues at Trump You (the verb form, not the fake university) are actively undermining the environmentalist side of the litigation as best they can. Belt and suspenders wrapped around the neck of Americans and Planet Earth.
While Pruitt, the former Oklahoma Attorney General who sold the GOP AG’s Association to the energy industry years ago – take a listen to our HERE & THERE conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winner Eric Lipton of the NY Times … and Zinke, the grandstander who rode into Washington on a horse, his pooper-scooper, if he brought one, apparently stuffed somewhere in his pants…aren’t just – as they claim – deferring the methane discussion, they are, typical of this know nothing administration, lobotomizing it.
Among the things the oil and gas folks won’t have to do, as a result of Zinke and Pruitt’s orders, is to monitor and report the extent of their dismal seepage, leakage, venting and flaring of methane into our atmosphere. This was part of a careful plan to collect data which would inform future rule-making.
Well, if Trump and his ecological contrarians have their way, there won’t be any data, there won’t be and study, there won’t be any rules that might trouble Charles and David Koch, or Harold Hamm or any of the other purposeful poisoners of our environment and climate.
Meanwhile in the Southwest Corner of our state, which, unlike the northwest and southeast corners of New Mexico is not yet suffused in methane emissions, the long-running farce of Gila River diversion is entering another new phase, with a new cast of characters (although the Prime Mover, Gov. Susana Martinez remains the same) and the same old problems…the diversion project has no popular support, no logical mandate, and a cost to benefit ratio that is completely out of whack.
Martinez, whose devout belief in austerity where spending state money is concerned has driven New Mexico to stagnation on the edge of collapse, proves one verity of American politics – trying to pick the pocket of Uncle Sam, by whom I mean all of us Federal taxpayers, is a bi-partisan crime.
The real appeal of the Gila Diversion is the amount of Federal money that might be turned to local jobs, or even more beneficial to the Governor, patronage contracts. That contractor performance has been as awful as state agency supervision of the project is just icing on a completely unnecessary, largely destructive, cake of water infrastructure.
Laura Paskus is an environmental reporter with long experience in New Mexico and the Southwest. She currently reports for the New Mexico Political Report and is writing a book that’s based on a year-long project, “At the Precipice: New Mexico’s Changing Climate,” for New Mexico In Depth. Her work has appeared in Al Jazeera America, Ms. Magazine, Indian Country Today, The Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review, and High Country News, where she also served as Assistant Editor.