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NM Youth Activists Deliver Signatures to Governor on Fracking Permits

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Monthly oil and gas royalties from New Mexico lands hit an all-time high at $110 million in April. (news.unm.edu)
Monthly oil and gas royalties from New Mexico lands hit an all-time high at $110 million in April. (news.unm.edu)
 By Roz Brown - Producer, Contact
June 9, 2021

SANTA FE, N.M. - A group of youth activists in New Mexico heads to the Roundhouse today to deliver more than 1,000 signatures. They're calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to reverse her request to President Joe Biden to exempt New Mexico from the temporary pause on new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

Seneca Johnson, a steering committee member for Youth United for Climate Crisis Action (YUCCA), will join youth leaders from pueblos and communities throughout northern New Mexico and the Four Corners area. She said bolder action, not more support for fracking, is needed to address climate change.

"I think fracking's incredibly harmful to our communities - to indigenous people and people on the front lines," she said, "and I think these communities have been hurting from the impacts of fracking for a really long time now, and it's just gone unaddressed."

Biden halted permits for fracking on federal lands by executive order at the beginning of his term, and recently extended the pause, at least through July. The youth petition calls on the New Mexico governor to support the freeze rather than pursuing an exemption for the state.

Anni Hanna, founder of the group New Mexico Climate Justice, will chaperone the students to the State Capitol in Santa Fe.

"Federal lands are for the benefit of all us," she said, "and not for these huge oil corporations, oil and gas fracking corporations, that come in."

Castille Aguilar, 22, is a campaign organizer with YUCCA who said she's been involved in environmental and social justice for more than a decade.

"This is really important that we start looking at transitioning away from what is harmful," she said, "not only for our environment but also for our communities."

YUCCA and New Mexico Climate Justice representatives will ask the governor for further study on the health impacts of fracking, as well as greater investment in alternative ways the state could generate revenue, so its budget won't depend so heavily on oil and gas revenues. Data from the state's Oil Conservation Division reported a nearly 11% increase from 2019 to 2020 in barrels of oil produced.

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