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New Mexico fights to escape the powerful grip of big oil and gas



In oil and gas states across the country, the industry's significant influence over politics and policy has become normalized. In Floodlight's latest collaboration, with Santa Fe-based journalist Cody Nelson and New Mexico Political Report, we explore what that means for lawmakers and activists fighting to transition away from fossil fuels in New Mexico.

For the last decade, the oil and gas industry’s influence has only grown in New Mexico, one of the top oil and gas producers in the US. The sector has promised good-paying jobs and economic growth, all while consistently damaging the environment and burdening minority communities with pollution. It has managed to maintain this stranglehold by staying intricately involved in state politics, according to campaign donation data, as well as documents reported here for the first time.

Both Democrats and Republicans take significant campaign donations from the industry. All told, oil and gas companies gave over $3.2 million to New Mexico politicians from both major parties in 2020, according to a report from the New Mexico Ethics Watch.


The oil and gas industry has also been intimately involved in shaping the policies meant to regulate it - and even boasts about the number of edits it secures to new rules.


In a February presentation, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association told its board it had secured significant changes to a proposed rule for limiting methane pollution. The state accepted more than 70 of the trade group’s redline edits, NMOGA said, according to records obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute.


The “process has been fruitful,” the group announced in a slide deck. READ MORE


Go behind the scenes in an audio interview with Nelson and Floodlight's Emily Holden.