New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday unveiled the first comprehensive energy policy in nearly 25 years that embraces the state's abundant resources -- natural gas, oil, coal, uranium, solar, wind, geothermal and biomass -- to attract manufacturing and create economic development opportunities.
The policy and implementation plan, "Seizing Our Energy Potential: Creating A More Diverse Economy in New Mexico," offers a blueprint that calls for an all-of-the-above approach to energy development.
"New Mexico is one of the most energy-rich and energy-diverse states in the nation, and we have an excellent opportunity to utilize this position to grow our economy and create more jobs," said Martinez. "Improving our energy infrastructure, responsibly developing and producing energy of all types, and better preparing our workforce for the needs of our energy sector are all critical components not only of a strong economic future, but of helping lead America to energy independence."
Initiatives included in the sweeping plan are:
Improve energy infrastructure from new rail lines to improved electric transmission that would enable operators to move products to markets in the Southwest and southeastern United States, as well as into Mexico and through global exports;
Promote all sources of energy, including low-carbon sources, that would, among other things, spur demand for natural gas through the use of tax credits to incentivize gas refueling stations and to purchase natural gas vehicles;
Improve workforce training by encouraging colleges and universities to align curricula with "core energy workforce needs: and supporting college training programs in applied energy technologies;
Reduce freshwater consumption in energy production processes, marking the first time that water and energy planning have been combined in New Mexico;
Streamline regulatory processes by removing "unnecessary burdens" to generate more production and investment; and
Explore, and potentially seize, new energy opportunities created by technology and through efficiencies.
"Energy produced in New Mexico is not only essential to powering our daily lives, it also provides essential revenue that supports our schools, hospitals, local governments and communities," said Secretary David Martin, who heads the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. "As the fourth-highest net energy producing state in the country, we owe it to our state’s future -- and indeed, our nation's future -- to expand our role as an energy leader."
The energy plan is the result of more than a year's worth of work, during which several "inclusive listening sessions were held throughout the state with community leaders, members of the public and energy stakeholders," Martinez said. The plan is to be updated at regular intervals, with opportunities for public input.