U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., will visit communities in Shiprock, Farmington and Aztec today to discuss economic development, broadband and energy issues and how he can use his role as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to support Northwestern New Mexico.
First, the senator will visit with officials from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) for a tour of its new tier 3 data center that employs Native Americans and residents in the Shiprock area and provides power and “cloud computing” storage capacity for businesses.
In 2010, Udall helped secure $32 million in federal funding for NTUA to create an ultra fast broadband network that covers more than 15,000 square miles across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah where more than 60 percent of residents lack basic telephone service. The funds helped build one of the first Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband networks in the country, deploying 550 miles of new aerial fiber-optic cable over the region.
This infrastructure enables “cloud computing” and other services to help businesses reduce IT costs while also providing much–needed broadband Internet access to area residents. Udall has been a leading advocate for expanding broadband and has worked for many years to add more access to tribal communities to create more jobs, healthcare and educational opportunities on the Navajo Nation.
Later on Monday, Udall will meet with representatives and employees from the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Aztec Well Service and WPX Energy to discuss challenges in the energy field how he can support New Mexico’s industry as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Udall will also share with the industry work he is doing to support small producers, his work with BLM to streamline permits, and steps he has taken to increase the country’s natural gas exports. The senator will also talk about collaborating with the industry to use innovative water saving technologies for oil and gas development.
Udall’s visit will begin at WPX Energy for a safety demonstration, followed by a tour of a natural gas rig near Lybrook south of Farmington.