New Research Reveals that the Big Oil Lobby is Using New Mexico Tax Dollars to Undermine Climate Action

Local governments in Southeast New Mexico waste $50,000 in tax dollars on crooked oil and gas lobby firms in order to prop up the fossil fuel industry.

WASHINGTON – New research reported on by the Carlsbad Current-Argus and The Guardian in partnership with Floodlight reveals New Mexico local governments spent tax dollars on Big Oil lobbying firms in an attempt to derail the Biden administration’s action on climate.  The City of Carlsbad and Eddy County, which has some of the worst air quality the nation, spent a combined $50,000 in tax dollars on federal lobbying to preserve the broken oil and gas public lands program 

“While New Mexico is in the grips of a historic megadrought and climate induced record-breaking heat, local elected officials are wasting tax dollars on crooked oil and gas lobbyists,” said Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuels Program Manager at Friends of the Earth. “This reckless attempt to derail the Biden administration’s efforts to address the climate crisis is bad for New Mexico and the entire planet. Officials must answer for and justify wasting finite local tax dollars to benefit the oil and gas industry.”  

Senate lobbying disclosure reports and open records obtained by The Guardian found that the City of Carlsbad and Eddy County contracted with FTI Consulting while the City of Carlsbad also hired 535 Group, LLC during the first quarter of 2021. 535 Group is a newly registered lobbying firm that is deeply intertwined with FTI Consulting, contracting with the firm on oil and gas lobbying issues.  

Lobby registrations list Jefferies Murray as the lead lobbyist under both lobbying agreements. Murray, a former democratic congressional staffer that worked with the Blue Dog Coalition, was previously a government affairs director for the American Gas Association and the executive director of the American Gas Foundation before transitioning to FTI Consulting. It is unclear why the local governments have contracts with both entities in what appears to be duplicative efforts at a tremendous expense to local coffers.  

Previously, FTI Consulting, under contract with oil and gas front-group Western Energy Alliance and fueled by ExxonMobil, was exposed attempting to impersonate journalists to question and undermine EarthRights International’s (ERI) General Counsel over climate change litigation against the oil giant.  

Congressman-turned-lobbyist Bud Cramer (D-Ala.) and Jefferies Murray, his former staffer, co-founded the dark money Blue Dog Research Forum that has since been renamed Center Forward. The dark money group’s super PAC spent over $3 million in the 2020 election cycle, and have been influencing moderate Senate Democrats on key issues. Murray is listed as Center Forward’s treasure according to Federal Election Commission documentation. 

This follows a pattern by the oil and gas industry of shifting lobbying resources towards democratic-leaning firms in order to influence Democrats with the same mistruths and hot air that don’t reflect the reality on the ground. 

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, [email protected]

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