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~Submitted by Lora A. Lucero, Albuquerque resident

This letter is provided as opinion/commentary from the author. You can submit your own letter to editor@abq.news

This story also appeared in Commentary

For decades, the fossil fuel industry denied climate change was real.  When that became an untenable argument, their strategy morphed. They rejected the evidence that humans cause climate change. With the weight of the scientific community against them, the industry finally capitulated and acknowledged that climate change is real and humans are a key driver with our CO2 emissions. In recent years, the industry has argued that climate solutions won’t work. Delaying and deflecting real action will keep the oil and gas industry pumping their deadly toxins.

We now see their new miscommunication strategy evolving. I saw it at the climate conference in Glasgow (COP26) but it’s clearly visible at home in New Mexico. The oil and gas industry’s current playbook is to present itself as the solution to climate change. When the industry can get elected officials to press its claims, that’s even better for them.

Representative Patty Lundstrom (D-NM 9) illustrates this greenwashing. With a deceptively dangerous message, she fails to explain the significant differences between BLUE hydrogen (H2) made from methane which has a carbon footprint 20 percent greater than burning fossil natural gas directly and GREEN hydrogen made from renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

Four of Lundstrom’s blue hydrogen bills failed to pass in the NM Legislature in 2022 due to massive opposition; they would have supported more CO2 emissions. Sen. Heinrich, Gov. Lujan-Grisham and Rep. Lundstrom want to throw the oil and gas industry executives a lifeline by recasting their dirty carbon-spewing operations as a solution to climate change. New Mexicans must not fall for it.

The U.N. and scientific organizations are warning us that the window for climate action is rapidly closing. On April 4, 2022, the IPCC’s latest report noted that global greenhouse-gas emissions must peak no later than 2025, in just THREE years, and be reduced by 43 percent by 2030, to keep temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Needless to say, we’re on the wrong trajectory. Blue hydrogen investments will lock us into this dangerous path for decades to come. That same IPCC report notes that we have the technological and scientific solutions, but we’re lacking the political will to implement them. Special interests (whether fossil fuels, agribusiness and others) are blocking our progress.  

Fossil fuels must remain in the ground. There is no future for our children and our planet in which fossil fuel development (whether it’s cast as an alternative fuel source like hydrogen or as a benign product such as plastic bags) can continue.  Our leaders must not be duped into believing a just and equitable transition includes any future role for oil and gas. Those days are over.

Unfortunately, politicians are typically focused on their next election (Not In My Term of Office NIMTOO) and not on the long-term horizon of our grandchildren or the very short-term horizon in which the scientists say deep and rapid changes must occur. New Mexicans will have to create the parade for these leaders; only then will they jump in front to lead us safely towards a future built on renewable energy.

New Mexico can certainly be a leader in the new energy future, a future built on solar and wind. We simply need to seize our moment and truly shine!  

Read the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) issued on April 4th [https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg3/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGIII_SummaryForPolicymakers.pdf]

Lora A. Lucero is an Albuquerque resident who attended the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November as a delegate for the League of Women Voters United States. She may be reached at LoraLucero3@gmail.com