UNITED STATES NEWS

New Mexico congressman in swing district seeks health care trust for oil field workers

Aug 16, 2023, 6:47 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bill aimed at compensating oil field workers and immediate relatives for uninsured medical costs related to air pollution and heat-related illness has been introduced by a first-term congressman from New Mexico.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez said Wednesday his bill would require that oil and natural gas companies nationwide pay into a trust that provides reimbursement to workers for health costs associated with ailments linked to methane and smog, including respiratory problems such as asthma.

Workers would be eligible to seek reimbursement for costs not covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, he said. A full draft of the bill as introduced Wednesday was not immediately available.

Vasquez said the proposal is an outgrowth of concerns he has heard from oil field workers in southeastern New Mexico — and his observations about extensive profits and executive compensation among major petroleum companies. New Mexico is the nation’s second-largest oil producer behind Texas.

“If you’re an energy worker in Hobbs or Carlsbad who has a child who has asthma, you would benefit from this legislation,” Vasquez said.

He said annual contributions by energy companies to a health care trust should equal compensation to their 10 highest-paid employees.

The bill marks a shift in focus from an unfettered support of the oil industry under Vasquez’s Republican predecessor, Yvette Herrell, and her criticism of energy exploration policies under the Biden administration.

Vasquez flipped the district, which extends from the U.S. border with Mexico to Albuquerque, to Democratic control in 2022, under newly drawn congressional districts that divvied up a major oil-producing region of New Mexico among three districts. Republicans are challenging the redistricting in state district court.

Vasquez announced details of the health compensation bill at a gathering in Hobbs, accompanied by advocates for the immigrant-rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido, amid testimonials from oil field workers and their spouses — speaking in Spanish — about frustrations with working conditions.

“In reality my heart breaks because we’re left with the effects of this industry and the corporations that don’t pay what they should for it to be a just system,” Vasquez said in Spanish. “I ask you today to support us in the proposed legislation.”

The bill is modeled after a compensation program for coal miners disabled by black lung disease, under the provisions of a 1969 law, Vasquez said.

United States News

Associated Press

Chicago shooting kills 7-year-old girl and wounds 7 people including small children, police say

CHICAGO (AP) — Eight people were shot including a young girl who was killed in what Chicago police believe was gang-related violence on the city’s South Side on Saturday night. The 7-year-old girl was shot in the head and died, while a 1-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy were each shot multiple times and listed […]

46 minutes ago

Associated Press

A jury of his peers: A look at how jury selection will work in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s history-making criminal trial is set to start Monday with a simple but extraordinary procedural step that is vital to American democracy. A group of regular citizens — Trump’s peers, in the eyes of the law — will be chosen to decide whether the former president of the United States […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities say 4 people are dead after a train collided with a pickup in rural Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Four people are dead after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a train in rural Idaho Saturday, authorities said. Idaho State Police said the pickup was carrying a 38-year-old man, 36-year-old woman and two children, who were all from Nampa. The vehicle was traveling on a private road […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman with history of DUIs sentenced to 15 years to life for California crash that killed mom-to-be

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California woman with a history of convictions for driving under the influence has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for a crash that killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman and left her baby in critical condition. Courtney Pandolfi, 44, pleaded guilty to second degree murder earlier […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Utah school board member who questioned a student’s gender loses party nomination for reelection

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A conservative Utah State Board of Education member who faced calls to resign after lawmakers said she bullied a student on social media lost her nomination for reelection Saturday. Natalie Cline needed at least 40% of the delegate votes at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, but she fell short […]

8 hours ago

An Iranian demonstrator chants slogans while attending an anti-Israeli gathering at the Felestin (P...

Associated Press

The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first direct military attack against Israel on Saturday, prompting internal discussion among U.S. leaders.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

New Mexico congressman in swing district seeks health care trust for oil field workers