“Don’t Leave It in the Ground” Series: Coal

Last week, the front page of the Albuquerque Journal described a new technology called Memzyme that was a developed right here in Albuquerque, at Sandia National Laboratory and UNM. Not only was the technology developed here, it has the potential to be a game changer for all New Mexicans.

Memzyme removes carbon dioxide from exhaust stacks. It eliminates greenhouse gases from coal-fired electrical power plants.

Why is Memzyme a game changer? The EPA has enacted new regulations on carbon dioxide emissions that has closed coal-fired power plants. Closing these power plants drives electrical rates higher; the recent PNM rate increase traces directly to EPA regulations. High electrical rates will chase away industries that are already in New Mexico and those that consider moving here.

And that means more job losses, especially in rural New Mexico. When coal-fired power plants close, so do the mines that provide the coal. A few years ago, I visited a coal mine in Northeast Arizona. A reclamation project employed more than 100 members of the Navajo Nation at close to $40 per hour. When the mine closes, those high-paying jobs will be gone forever. Not only have the coal miners lost their jobs – their pensions are at risk, which is why the Obama Administration has said that the federal government will have to provide billions of dollars to fund United Mine Workers pensions.

Of course, energy royalties and tax receipts help to fund New Mexico’s government, its public schools, and local and tribal governments. The loss of energy tax revenues has contributed to our current budget deficit, which sends a shock wave of misery rolling through our entire state economy.

The federal government should fund a pilot plant to determine if Memzymes can eliminate greenhouse gases from coal and natural gas power plants. It would be a small price to pay to keep great-paying jobs in rural New Mexico, create a steady stream of energy tax revenues to fund our governments and schools, lower all New Mexicans’ electrical rates, and help New Mexico become more competitive in attracting and keeping companies that create good-paying jobs.

Why is our federal government not issuing a grant for a pilot project? Why are our federal elected officials not advocates for Memzyme technology that has the potential to save jobs, lower our electrical rates, and reduce America’s greenhouse gasses by 40 percent? It appears New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation agrees with Hillary Clinton when she said, “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” That is not good for New Mexico.

Write your Congressman, Congresswoman and Senators. Demand they support Memzyme technology to remove greenhouse gases from our coal fired power plants, instead of shutting down our power plants and coal mines. Tell them you will not accept the trade of good-paying jobs for no jobs, and low electrical rates for high electrical rates.