In the spring of 2019 “Interfaith Power & Light, New Mexico/El Paso Region” organized a faith immersion/retreat in the Permian Basin. Faith leaders from the Albuquerque area met people from Hobbs and Carlsbad and heard their stories and concerns and toured several locations in the Permian Oilfield with “Earthworks.” While out in the field they were able to observe through a FLIR thermal imaging video camera the significant planet warming & health harming emission events that take place on any given day in the Permian, mere miles from homes.
During one of the panel sessions Carlsbad faith leaders and people of faith heard the concerns of their neighbors for the first time. They felt compelled to do something together to address the health, social and environmental concerns that had increased with the oil boom. They wanted to be of service to their community and call the oil and gas industry accountable for the toll the industry takes on frontline communities and the planet. Some faith leaders and people of faith came forward offering to serve as a steering committee. Working with Interfaith Power and Light and Earthworks “Citizens Caring for the Future” was born.
Some of the early work of the group included learning how to give comments at New Mexico methane hearings and talk with media and their neighbors about concerns. Early on, one of the large concerns was a lack of air monitoring in their communities. Citizens Caring for the Future has played an integral role in advocating for environmental safeguards on the state & national level, and are a leading voice for a transition to a green economy in the state of New Mexico. The group has been active in educating, offering comments at public hearings, meeting with journalists, writing letters to the editor and op-eds, advocating at the New Mexico Legislature and even offering presentations at national events and at the COP 25. As one of a few or quite possibly the only grassroots and frontline led climate advocacy groups in the Permian, we feel responsible to engage leaders at the local, state and federal levels to call for industry accountability and good stewardship. The Permian Basin is the most productive oil basin in the country and the second most productive basin in the world and as frontline communities we care about health, local traditional economies like ranching/farming, tourism and recreation, the climate and the future.