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Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

A statewide effort is underway to forge new, comprehensive policies and strategies to promote energy development.

The initiative, which the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department launched last fall, aims to shore up the state’s energy-related industries as a force for job creation and long-term economic development.

That includes virtually every energy sector from oil and gas to biofuels, renewable electric generation and even nuclear power, said Daniel Fine, associate director of the Center for Energy Policy at the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology in Socorro.

New Mexico Tech is assisting in the initiative, which includes statewide “listening sessions” to collect public input.

“Underlying the whole effort is that today’s energy policy should emphasize economic development and jobs in New Mexico,” he said. “You hear everywhere that New Mexico is rich in natural resources, but it’s still such a poor state. We want to build policies that help resolve that contradiction.”

MARTIN: Policy must be renewed

MARTIN: Policy must be renewed

That requires a comprehensive approach on a range of issues, including investment in infrastructure, deployment of new technologies, efforts to streamline bureaucracy, and creative solutions to water and environ-mental problems, said Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Secretary David Martin.

Gathering direct input

And that, in turn, means creating a broad new policy framework based on direct input from industry and local communities.

“Policy must be renewed periodically,” he said. “The last comprehensive policy was in 1991 under former Gov. Bruce King, and a lot has changed since then.”

A drilling rig rises in the background near a pumpjack, both in operation in southeastern New Mexico. (Journal File)

A drilling rig rises in the background near a pumpjack, both in operation in southeastern New Mexico. (Journal File)

Many basic issues are fundamentally different now, particularly in the oil and gas sector, Fine said. In the early 1990s, oil production was in decline. And while natural gas output was still climbing in the 1990s, by the turn of the century it, too, entered a sharp downturn.

As a result, policies in past decades focused largely on energy conservation and how to achieve energy security in the U.S. But today, thanks to advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies that have opened vast, untapped oil and gas deposits, New Mexico is enjoying an unprecedented boom in oil production.

The central issue now is how to maintain that momentum, Fine said.

Since the fall, the state has held five listening sessions around New Mexico, each one analyzing different energy issues of particular interest to local communities.

All energy sources

In Farmington and Hobbs, participants discussed oil and gas production, plus electric generation and nuclear power. In Santa Fe and Las Cruces, attendees analyzed renewable technologies, energy efficiency, biofuels and water issues. And in Socorro, they looked at water and environmental concerns related to hydraulic fracturing, as well as potential for small modular nuclear reactors to provide future electric generation.

Nearly 400 people have participated to date, including industry executives, energy experts, public officials and community representatives.

A final session is scheduled for May 29 at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, where the public is invited to discuss water issues related to hydraulic fracturing, including new technologies to tap brackish groundwater and recycle produced water. The session also will review battery storage technology for solar generation, and use of liquid natural gas for fuel.

The results of all sessions will be compiled in a final public document with proposals and recommendations in the fall, Fine said. For the complete artice use this link --> http://www.abqjournal.com/398440/biz/state-works-to-overhaul-energy-policies-2.html

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