Climate change is a global crisis. Across the country, states, cities and local communities are working hard to make meaningful impacts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, federal policy makers are rolling back EPA and BLM restrictions on leaking methane-a powerful greenhouse gas measuring 83 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years. In 2014, NASA and NOAA discovered a methane hotspot, the size of Delaware, hovering over the Four Corners of New Mexico. It is the largest methane plume in the U.S. Nationally, methane waste is estimated to be $300+ million per year with New Mexico accounting for $180 million due to leaking, flaring and venting-enough gas to meet the heating and cooking needs of every home in New Mexico. Unregulated methane waste is not only a lost revenue to the state and a threat tothe climate, but also endangers public health, causing cancer and asthma in nearby communities. Reducing methane waste from oil and gas production and supply chains in New Mexico is an opportunity to create a deep cut to methane emissions not just in NM, but also for the U.S. Such measures will demonstrate that states and localities can show leadership in the face of national rollbacks.
CAVU will educate New Mexicans with a multi-media initiative designed to depoliticize the issues of climate change and energy production and work towards state-based solutions that protect the environment, health and cultural resources while working for the economy. UNEARTHED will consist of a grassroots and social media campaign. We will launch 8 online videos and conduct free public podcasts featuring professionally moderated panel discussions. Partner organizations are preparing to use the series widely in their outreach programming, in local forums and via their own media networks. This robust public engagement campaign is designed to add capacity to partner organizations working on local, state and national efforts. The podcasts and videos aim to bring together disparate views to promote cross sector dialogue, broaden perspectives, and deepen understanding of the issues surrounding oil and gas extraction, while working towards actionable, community-driven solutions. Videos and recorded podcasts will be made publicly available for discussion groups, forums and meet-ups on UnearthedNM.org.
What is happening in New Mexico’s communities is a microcosm for the methane crisis nationwide. So far, CAVU has filmed interviews with 62 people from a diversity of communities impacted by oil and gas extraction. The communities of New Mexico have experienced a systemic breakdown in the government’s ability to enact progressive policies, and of communities and industry to communicate effectively. We believe balanced perspectives and community education on these issues from multiple perspectives is the first step towards implementing policies that can endure the test of time.
Where are we going next with the UNEARTHED Initiative?
Here’s a roadmap:
Chapter 1, Exploring Oil & Gas Issues (Nov 2017):
What isn’t there to love about New Mexico? An introduction to the issues;
methane as part of the solution; and the need for state-level solutions.
Chapter 2, the Nuts & Bolts (Feb 2018):
The history of oil & gas development in our state
Differentiating between the San Juan & Permian basins
How are we “booming” in one basin and “busting” in another?
Chapter 3, In a Hot Seat Beneath a Methane Hot Spot (March 2018):
How energy development exacerbates climate change
Climate impacts to our water, land and culture
What are the opportunities to address climate change and be a good neighbor in the Four Corners?
Chapter 4, Living with Oil & Gas in the San Juan Basin:
From “Sacrifice Zone” to sacred sites, we trace the industry’s impact on communities
Living through significant boom & bust cycles, as told by residents of the Four Corners
Impacts to public health, public roadways and public grazing lands
Chapter 5, Living with Oil & Gas in the Permian Basin:
An in-depth look at a basin that’s really booming right now
Grappling with homelessness, man camps, affordable housing and worker health
How are communities and wildlife adapting to this pace of development?
Chapter 6, Our Public Lands of Enchantment:
Exploring our dynamic connections to the land
How have extractive industries affected public access & use of our public lands?
How do we responsibly balance and develop all our public lands resources?
Chapter 7, Methane Mitigation:
The technology for methane capture exists; how does it work and why isn’t it being used?
Federal methane rules: one administration giveth, another taketh away,
and why that presents a lot of opportunities at the state level
Chapter 8, Solution Seekers:
Now that we know the impacts, let’s come together across industry
and party lines to develop solutions for a better New Mexico!