Energy, Utilities and Environment

James Taylor presentation: Affordable Energy Threatened in New Mexico

On April 8, 2015, James Taylor of the Heartland Institute visited Albuquerque to discuss policies that are negatively impacting New Mexicans' access to affordable, reliable energy (especially electricity). You can watch his full presentation below and access his powerpoint slides here:

New RGF report: Obama Administration Clean Air Regulations to Raise Electricity Costs by 18 percent, cost 5,000+ New Mexico Jobs

(Albuquerque, NM) – The Rio Grande Foundation, using data produced by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University (BHI) has analyzed the Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Air Regulations” and found that if consumers are concerned with the electricity rate hikes being proposed by Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), they will face an even greater impact under the new federal regulations.

The new report is available here. Among the report’s findings:

• Before factoring in PNM’s proposed 12 percent rate hike, New Mexico’s electricity prices are relatively high compared to other states. In part this is due to aggressive renewable portfolio standards;

• The EPA has introduced three new emission rules that will either force coal-fired generation plants to close or adopt expensive and unproven technologies such as carbon capture and storage;

• These rules will cost the New Mexico economy $185 million between implementation and 2030, according to data provided by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University;

• The rules’ effects on reducing the supply of inexpensive electricity production will increase electricity prices by 18%, cost 5,170 jobs, and reduce real disposable income by $578 million, according to the report.

According to Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing, all of this economic harm amounts to “all pain and no gain” since EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, in September 2013 testimony before a House committee, conceded that the agency’s climate-change regulatory regime would not affect the climate because the preponderance of current and future greenhouse-gas emissions originate in Asia.

“Of course,” argued Gessing, “The pain of dramatically-increased electricity costs will further hinder New Mexico’s already anemic economy while having real-world impacts on the thousands of hard-working taxpayers who are destined to lose their jobs under this misguided proposal.”

With PNM already looking for a 12 percent rate hike and many of New Mexico’s utilities looking to increase their “renewable” portfolios from 15 to 20 percent by 2020 to comply with New Mexico’s “renewable portfolio standard,” the price of electricity in the Land of Enchantment has already risen dramatically in recent years (as seen in the chart below) and is likely to rise dramatically in the years ahead.

Check out this new video outlining the serious issues facing the Obama Administration's plan:

A freedom outlook for New Mexico’s 2015 legislative session

A freedom outlook for New Mexico’s 2015 legislative session

Posted By Paul Gessing On January 20, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

NewMexicoFlag [1]

By Paul Gessing | Watchdog Opinion

The 2014 elections represented nothing less than a seismic shift in New Mexico’s political system. Gov. Martinez won re-election handily, but the real story was the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives for the first time in 62 years.

For New Mexico, this political shift is nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve itself. New Mexico has traditionally struggled with high poverty rates, poor education levels, and an over-reliance on both federal spending and mercurial commodity prices, particularly oil and natural gas.

In recent years, oil and gas alone have generated 31 percent of New Mexico’s General Fund revenues. Also, according to data from the Mercatus Center, New Mexico topped the nation with 32 percent of its workforce occupied in public-sector and federal-contract jobs as a percentage of total jobs.

With federal employment stagnant, natural gas prices continuing to hover at historically-low levels and the recent collapse in oil and gas prices, policymakers in the Land of Enchantment face a dire need to jump-start the State’s weak private sector. An indicator of that weakness is that New Mexico is home to only one publicly-traded company headquarters, those of PNM, the State’s largest utility.

What is to be done?

For starters, the Legislature is going to be considering several labor reforms, most notably “right to work” legislation. Currently, 24 states have such laws on the books. These laws simply prohibit union membership or the payment of union dues as a condition of employment. Recently, “rust-belt” states of Indiana and Michigan have adopted similar laws.

Energy Expert Robert Bryce Discusses "Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper" in Albuquerque

Robert Bryce is one of America's foremost authors and experts on energy. Specifically, he is an optimist about America's economic future fueled in part by affordable, reliable energy. Bryce is also a skeptic regarding the "politically-correct" sources of energy beloved by environmentalists.

He discussed his book and his views on some important energy issues including the "shale revolution," coal, "renewables," and his optimism about America's future. Video is available below:

Robert Bryce discusses, Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper in Albuquerque, NM on December, 9, 2014 from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Rio Grande Foundation Submits Comments in Opposition to EPA’s Clean Power Plan

(Albuquerque, NM) —The Rio Grande Foundation today joined with elected officials and organizations from 50 states representing a wide range of industries to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) flawed “Clean Power Plan.”

For more than 70 years, New Mexico has exercised exclusive jurisdiction over its retail electricity markets. With the passage of the Federal Power Act in 1935, the Congress codified New Mexico’s—and all States’—prerogative to oversee their retail electricity markets, unencumbered by federal intrusion. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, by its very terms, would erase this “bright line” in jurisdiction between federal and state governments.

In addition to usurping the state’s authority, the rule adds insult to injury by imposing unreasonable costs on New Mexico ratepayers. Residential rates are projected to increase by 13 percent to 14 percent, while industrial rates are projected to increase by 23 percent. Making matters worse, the rule also poses a threat to electric reliability.

In response to previous EPA rules, utilities already have announced the closure of 633 megawatts of coal-fired electricity in New Mexico. EPA modeling for the Carbon Pollution Rule projects that the regulation would cause an additional 1,001 megawatts of electricity generating capacity in New Mexico to retire.

The Rio Grande Foundation’s comments are available online.

Said Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation which organized and submitted the comments, “Reliable and inexpensive electricity is critical to creating a prosperous economy. Working class New Mexicans, small businesses, and those on fixed incomes, cannot afford to see electricity prices skyrocket due to unnecessary and ineffectual federal regulations.”

Gessing further noted that it is not just his opinion that the regulations will be ineffective, in September 2013 testimony before a House committee, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy conceded the agency’s climate-change regulatory regime would not affect the climate, because the preponderance of current and future greenhouse-gas emissions originate in Asia.

In conclusion, the EPA is imposing significant costs on New Mexico businesses and rate-payers for no net reduction in current and future greenhouse-gas emissions.

Rio Grande Foundation Asks EPA to Withdraw its “Waters of the U.S.” Proposal

(Albuquerque, NM) —The Rio Grande Foundation today joined with 375 trade associations and chambers from 50 states representing a wide range of industries to voice strong concerns with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ flawed proposed rule to dramatically expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the U.S. and called for the proposal to be withdrawn. The effort was led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The comments are available here.

The rule is simply an attempt by Washington, D.C., bureaucrats to take over the economies and the livelihoods of everyone in the western U.S. It has little to do with environmental protection, and everything to do with a political takeover of our most precious resource – making everyone in the west dependent and beholden to Washington bureaucrats.

As the groups’ comments state, “The proposed rule is really about the Agencies’ overreaching attempt to replace longstanding state and local control of land uses near water with centralized federal control. In light of the overwhelming evidence that the proposed rule would have a devastating impact on businesses, states, and local governments without any real benefit to water quality, the Agencies should immediately withdraw the waters of the U.S. proposal and begin again. The current proposed rule is simply too procedurally and legally flawed to repair.”

The comments detail several examples of the impacts of the proposed rule, including:

  • Maps prepared by EPA show the rule could expand federal jurisdiction over waters from 5 million river and stream miles to well over 8 million river and stream miles;
  • The rule would make most ditches into “tributaries.”  Routine maintenance activities in ditches and on-site ponds and impoundments could trigger permits that can cost $100,000 or more;
  • These permitting requirements would likely trigger additional environmental reviews that would add years to the completion time for ordinary projects;
  • Even if a project can get a permit, firms will often have to agree to mitigate environmental “damage” with costly restoration/mitigation projects;
  • The proposal would likely also result in more stringent storm water management requirements, which would affect retailers, companies with large parking lots, “big box” stores, etc.

 

Who's grabbing New Mexico lands?

Recently, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich sounded off in the East Coast liberal establishment's favorite news outlet, The New York Times, about efforts by the Rio Grande Foundation and others who wish to devolve certain lands currently managed by Washington bureaucracies (specifically the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management) to state control. Needless to say, he's not a fan.

I responded with an article that ran nationally (shockingly, not in the Times) and generated an interesting column on the situation from the Albuquerque Journal's Washington correspondent Michael Coleman.

I noted in my column that Heinrich (and Udall) enthusiastically supported federal monument designations in both Northern and Southern New Mexico. I was remiss in not pointing out that Heinrich and Udall have introduced legislation to designate an additional 45,000 New Mexico lands as "Wilderness." This bill is unlikely to pass Congress, but it is very possible that Heinrich and Udall will convince a lame-duck President Obama to "use his pen" to designate the land by himself in yet another federal "land grab."

How green is that plastic bag ban? Presentation video available

Julian Morris of Reason Foundation recently presented on the issue of plastic bag bans at a series of events in New Mexico. Already, Santa Fe and Silver City have bans in place. Morris is author of a report on the is the author of the new report "How Green Is that Grocery Bag Ban? An Assessment of the Environmental and Economic Effects of Grocery Bag Bans and Taxes".

Video of Morris' presentation (and a five minute personal introduction by RGF President Paul Gessing) is below and his powerpoint slides are available here:

The ineffectiveness of plastic bag bans presentation by Julian Morris of Reason Foundation from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Syndicate content