By Edouard R. baca
A scenario I encountered on a road trip from Santa Fe to visit my cousin in the Texas Hill Country last spring left me unexpectedly dizzy.
The first two hundred miles of US Highway 285 through Clines Corners, Vaughn and Roswell went without incident. However, the 86 mile stretch between Carlsbad, New Mexico and Pecos, Texas shook me into a frightening state of consciousness.
Leaving the southern outskirts of Carlsbad, I crossed the zero point limit of hydraulic fracturing in the Permian oil basin of southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. I had driven this road about 10 years ago and was familiar with pump jacks, pipelines, storage tanks and the cross traffic associated with oil fields, but was not prepared for what I saw this time.
The advent of hydraulic fracturing had increased activity between Carlsbad and Pecos to an exponential degree. Semi-tankers and oilfield service trucks raced this two-lane highway at full speed. They turned the gravel service roads in a rushed frenzy. The cactus and mesquite bushes lining the highway were littered with plentiful plastic grocery bags, and the edges of the highway were littered with garbage, plastic bottles, beer cans, and bits of rubber from the area. flat tires. All this surreal landscape was covered with a thick layer of gray dust raised by these trucks.
Another shocking surprise were the sprawling men’s camps, RV parks and truck stops that have sprung up along this stretch since I was last there. Driving through this Mad Max-style wasteland while dodging tank trucks in my little RAV-4 sparked fears I haven’t felt since the I-90 semi-truck glove negotiation between Chicago and Gary , Indiana, years ago. It’s understandable that no one, including the New Mexico Department of Transportation, dares to pick up trash on this route.
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This is just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is the environmental damage caused by the fossil fuel industry. The big oil companies and their elected enablers would have you believe that global warming is not as bad as environmental scientists are reporting. They actually want you to believe it’s a hoax, and the methane emissions, well, they’re really not that bad. Increased respiratory problems? Bah! They are not worse than seasonal allergies. Plus, look at all the revenue this industry generates for New Mexico! They don’t want you to know that the revenue our state collects from them is a huge change from the profits they take from New Mexico and deliver to their boards in Houston, Dallas, and New York for distribution. to their CEOs and majority shareholders.
When the boom is over, we will find ourselves with a littered highway, growing health problems, rusting oilfield cemeteries, and a largely depleted water table – a toxic desert wasteland. Meanwhile, Steve Pearce continues to parrot the denial of the big oil companies of the climate crisis existing in our state, our nation and our planet. It’s no coincidence that he chose to bring the recent Republican state party convention to Texas oil and gas industry territory to strategize to move their “drill, baby,” agenda forward. drilling ”. The alternative is to build a diversified sustainable economy that is not dependent on fossil fuels. Do we bite the bullet now or later?
Edward R. Baca lives in Santa Fe.