FARMINGTON — San Juan County has the most to gain or lose from the race to represent New Mexico in the United States Senate, one of the candidates said Tuesday.

Heather Wilson emphasized her energy policies as she campaigned and met with supporters in Farmington with Lisa Murkowski, a Republican senator from Alaska.

Wilson, New Mexico's Republican candidate for senate, said the difference between Democrat candidate Martin Heinrich's energy policies and her own could determine the future for thousands of San Juan County residents who work in natural gas or coal industries.

"This election is most important to this county and southeastern New Mexico," Wilson said. "Anybody who has their livelihood depend on the energy sector has a lot at stake in this election."

Wilson, 51, said a strong turnout of supporters from San Juan County is "vital" if she is going to be successful on in the Nov . 6 election. A recent Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state showed Wilson trailed Heinrich 52 percent to 39 percent.

Wilson hopes a clash between the two candidates over the future of New Mexico's coal industry during a televised debate last week will energize her supporters. During the debate Wilson accused Heinrich of calling coal a fuel of the past.

She also said Heinrich supported a bill in the House of Representatives that would hurt New Mexico's coal industry.


The American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill Heinrich supported, would have placed a limit on greenhouse gas emissions, which could have had an effect on San Juan County's two coal-fired power plants and natural gas industry businesses, Wilson said.

Heinrich, 41, has said the bill would have drastically reduced America's greenhouse gas emissions and reduced utility bills across the country.

"Martin (Heinrich) is committed to an energy future for our nation that is both clean and domestic," Whitney Potter, a spokeswoman for Heinrich, said in an email. "He supports boosting domestic drilling for natural gas to increase our nation's energy independence and create jobs in New Mexico."

The bill was passed by the House but did not become law. Wilson said the bill could have cost New Mexico jobs.

"Most of (those jobs) will be in San Juan County and Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties," she said.

Wilson's promise to protect energy-sector jobs was a primary reason the Navajo Nation Council recently announced it was endorsing her, she said.

Wilson said preventing the federal government from regulating the Navajo tribe's energy production is a tribal-sovereignty issue.

"There's a lot of clash right now between the (Environmental Protection Agency) and the Navajo Nation and a lack of respect for their sovereignty," Wilson said. "The Navajo Nation has their own environmental protection department ... but the EPA has been trying to tell (the Nation) what to do."