Home > Uncategorized > New Mexico Senator Tom Udall Visits Roswell, Hosts Roundtable With Farmers And Ranchers Affected By Drought

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall Visits Roswell, Hosts Roundtable With Farmers And Ranchers Affected By Drought

As Congress takes a break from Washington, DC, many are returning to their home districts to talk with constituents on a variety of issues.  Today, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall was in Roswell, hosting a roundtable with local farmers and ranchers currently struggling with the, I’d say, devastating drought facing the entire state.

Honestly, I was not fully prepared for this discussion.  I am in no way an expert on the issue of oil and gas, farming, ranching, nor the dairy industry for that matter, so most if not the entire conversation was a bit daunting.

A common theme amongst those in attendance was a passion for the work. Regardless of my own person feelings on the environment and what we should be doing to slow down the effects of climate change, I had to admire their conviction.  Of the ten or so in attendance, all had been farming or ranching their entire lives or their families had a long history of holding down their respective lands. Experts in their respective fields, I’d say.  While there were hints of forward thinking in terms of technology, efficiency and lowering carbon footprints, it was also clear that the same tired old ideas of yesteryear are still in play when it comes to energy here in southeastern New Mexico.

Regarding energy, for example.  A local farmer from Roswell, who explained that he wears a variety of different hats, including expertise in gas and oil, said that, “if we get away from producing coal, it will be a huge cost increase that cannot be solved.”  Senator Udall did not provide a response to this, but I immediately felt discomfort with this comment.  I’m immediately reminded of what the priorities are for this region of the state when it comes to any energy plan.

Livelihood vs. Climate Change

Just last year, President Obama was in Maljamar attempting to sell his comprehensive energy plan and sort of catering to gas and oil here in southeastern New Mexico.  But since his reelection in November, he’s not only talked about climate change, but he’s also prioritized it, both in his inaugural address and at this years State of the Union.  So my question is this.  How do you sell the effects of climate change and the deterioration of our environment to local gas and oil people who depend on this as their livelihood?

Especially here in southeastern New Mexico?

To find a successful solution to climate change, policy makers need the backing of those who attended today’s roundtable with Senator Udall.  But to be on board also means supporting an applicable piece of long-term policy that will make a significant difference and not just an attempt to squash an issue temporarily with some watered down piece of policy.  We can no longer continue to ignore this idea that perhaps oil and gas have contributed to our current drought challenges.  It is the incredibly large elephant in the room, except no one with real political power is willing to point that out.  Especially in this part of the state.

We don’t have a drought just because mother nature decided to take a break.  We have a drought because we, as a society, have done very little to produce alternatives to energy. Instead of finding solutions to help pull ourselves away from our dependence on oil and gas, we continue to increase and at a very rapid speed, which in turn directly impacts our land.  Unfortunately though, we don’t talk about climate change in these parts the same reason you don’t bring up the gun issue.  People get real upset.  At today’s roundtable with Senator Udall, there was desperation from those at the table, who were worried.  Not so much about what may come from this drought, but how much more government may interfere with their businesses if the issue become much more serious.

The question remains.  To what extent do we push the limits on the environment before we can finally say, “it’s time to do something?”  Around here, no one is willing to take a stab at that question which will be very problematic for any future debate on energy.

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