US Congressman Gabe Vazquez is calling for compensation for oil and gas workers and their families for health conditions associated with living and working in the fossil fuel industry.
Vazquez, a Democrat from New Mexico, announced the new bill during a meeting in Hobbes with members of the immigrant rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Proponents say the bill, known as the Energy Workers Health Improvement and Compensation Fund Act, will help the Spanish-speaking and Latinx communities because many of the energy workers in the Permian Basin are minorities, including immigrants from Latin America. said to be important for
“New Mexico relies heavily on oil and gas revenues, but lawmakers are helping frontline communities and industrial workers,” Marcela Diaz, executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said in a press release. We often ignore the significant costs to “Migrant families in the Permian Basin are disproportionately affected by poor enforcement of health and safety standards, long working hours and harsh working conditions. And they are organizing and demanding more public investment in their families and communities.Vasquez’s commitment to listening to and standing up for these essential workers, not just industry executives. and we are greatly encouraged.”
The bill would require oil and gas companies to pay a fund to cover medical costs for workers and their families who develop certain conditions. These include asthma, heat-related illnesses, and other respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses that can be caused by exposure to air pollution and oil and gas emissions.
Vasquez said. New Mexico Political Report He said he met with about 60 Hobbes area residents, many of whom worked in the energy sector.
“We are trying to hold oil and gas companies accountable, especially for things they can control,” he said. “And they are the ones who are really strengthening the business and helping the energy production here.”
Extraction, as evidenced by continued efforts to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to include not only those who worked in uranium mining and milling after 1971, but also those living downstream in New Mexico. It can be difficult to obtain compensation for illnesses related to
Vazquez said it was a core part of his new law. He said New Mexico faced an intergenerational disease problem caused by atomic bomb tests, and people were not receiving compensation. Vazquez said his own bill could prevent similar problems for energy workers in oil and gas fields.
He said there was precedent for such efforts, pointing to a law requiring coal mining companies to pay money to help miners with black lung disease.
“Congress enacted the program after it became clear that workers in coal mining, a nationally important industry that earns millions of dollars for private companies, were suffering,” he said. “The same goes for those downwind affected by the nuclear tests in New Mexico.”
This also applies to oil and gas workers, Vazquez said, saying, “If you want to support the energy industry, you have to support the energy workers.” And we must be proactive so taxpayers don’t pay the price later. ”
Many of the CEOs of the big oil and gas companies don’t live in New Mexico, he said, but “while they are getting rich by helping New Mexicans earn big salaries, the workers themselves are out of the industry itself.” They are going to suffer the consequences,” he said.
For example, Exxon’s CEO was making $35 million in 2022, he said. Meanwhile, average salaries for Exxon employees fell 9 percent.
“The pay gap between CEOs and oil and gas field workers is terrible,” he said.