FIRST ON FOX: A Democratic congressional candidate from New Mexico is seeking to retract recently unearthed comments he previously made indicating he supported an end to oil and gas drilling “immediately.”
Gabe Vasquez, a former Las Cruces, New Mexico, city councilman, said in 2018 that he agreed with environmentalists seeking to ditch oil and gas extraction “immediately” in favor of renewable energy.
As the November midterm elections approach, Vasquez recently called the oil and gas industry “incredibly important to this district” not only for the extraction companies themselves, but also for the small businesses that support the industry. of fossil fuels.
Vasquez, who is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell in the 2nd congressional district that covers most of the southern half of New Mexico, said on her “Conserving Our Land Podcast” several years ago that she agreed with the environmental groups that say, “Shut it all down. We’re going to get rid of it immediately.”
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However, he also criticized some in the environmental movement who ignored local communities’ dependence on the oil and gas industries for their survival.
“In the same statement referenced, I make it absolutely clear that my top priority is protecting the livelihoods of New Mexicans and that I will not support any transition to sustainable energy that leaves behind workers who depend on the energy industry. oil and gas,” Vasquez said. Fox News Digital on Wednesday in a statement.
“We can continue to produce oil and gas responsibly, protect the health of our workers and our environment, and add even more jobs in the Southeast by expanding our renewable energy production.”
The podcast is no longer available on iTunes, but audio from the episode shared with Fox News matches an episode archived on Backtracks.fm, a podcast review website. In it, Vásquez does not seem to indicate that oil and gas should continue to be produced responsibly, but he does indicate that fossil fuel extraction should end in a way that supports local economies in transition.
“A lot of people in the environmental community will say, ‘Shut everything down. Let’s eliminate it immediately, let’s install the infrastructure to obtain clean energy’. And I agree with that. Because, as a planet, we must move in that direction,” Vásquez said in an episode of the podcast that aired on March 27, 2018.
Vásquez went on to say that a move away from fossil fuels would necessitate strong infrastructure building in renewable energy sources to ensure that communities dependent on current extractive industries have job opportunities.
“We also have to find a way to make sure that our people in these small towns and in these economies have a chance to retrain for work, have a chance to be the ones to put up those windmills or make those solar panels. And that is, I think, something that is missing in part of the larger environmental community,” he said.
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Later in the podcast, Vásquez agreed with his guest, New Mexico State Rep. Angelica Rubio, and other environmental groups, saying, “We have to end it all,” referring to fossil fuel-based energy.
He also lamented how entrenched oil and gas production was in the state’s economy.
“I think this is where I really get frustrated with our legislature and with the state of the world in terms of our politics here in New Mexico because oil and gas is such a big part of our mindset. And our mindset is that we have also become very myopic in terms of our vision and how we think about things and move forward in terms of economic development,” Vásquez said.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association says the industry supported 134,000 jobs in the state in 2021.
Vasquez said in August that, if elected, he would be the voice of oil and gas workers in New Mexico, rather than supporting corporate extractive industries.
“My approach is that we cannot line the pockets of corporations and CEOs at the expense of the health of communities,” he said, according to the Carlsbad Current-Argus. “In Congress, I want to hold oil and gas companies accountable for not making some of the investments that I think they should be making to reduce methane emissions.”
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Herrell, Vásquez’s opponent in the race, said the economy is not ready to give up all fossil fuels, given all the industries it supports.
“We all take the fossil fuel industry, the products that come out of that space, for granted,” Herrell said. “Let’s get our energy from where it’s cleanest and best for the environment. We’re not ready to go completely green.”