A group of more than a dozen state legislators asked utility regulators to reject a request to build a liquefied natural gas storage facility in Rio Rancho near Albuquerque.
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s evidentiary hearing regarding the New Mexico Gas Co.’s proposal begins in early December.
Ahead of this hearing, 14 legislators sent a letter to the PRC.
The controversial facility would be approximately 3 miles away from Petroglyph National Monument and near several public schools and outdoor recreation assets.
The gas company says it is needed to provide more reliable and affordable service, especially during winter months.
But the 14 legislators say that it poses risks to the community.
“My constituents have been loud and clear – they don’t want this facility in their backyards,” state Sen. Harold Pope, D-Albuquerque, said in a news release. “The law requires that the public interest include the consideration of the risk of adverse effects the LNG facility may impose on the quality of life of the people and the effect on the environment.”
Pope said the people who live in northwest Albuquerque and Rio Rancho have spoken out against the facility and are concerned about risks. One risk he highlighted was that leaks from the facility could lead to fires. He also said that methane emissions from the facility could impact school children and nearby residents.
In addition to concerns about methane leaks, the lawmakers say that the facility could exacerbate air quality issues that the valley already faces, including ozone pollution, and that increased truck traffic could lead to dangerous driving conditions and more road maintenance needs. Furthermore, they say that money shouldn’t be invested into new fossil fuel infrastructure in light of the climate crisis.
“The residents in my district have been adamant they are not convinced that this LNG plant makes any sense; NMGC’s plant proposal is scary and unnecessary and adds too much health and cost risk,” Rep. Joy Garratt, D-Albuquerque, said in the news release. “Apparently, there is no actual problem with NMGC reliability – so why is this facility actually needed? It will add a cost burden to people who are already struggling to pay their utility bills. Adding unnecessary cost in these economically perilous times doesn’t make sense, especially when the company has not justified its acquisition expense against alternatives.”