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Presiding over an oil and gas state requires delicate pathfinding and attention to those details cherished by opposing forces. A bi-partisanship approach to the regulation of an industry which constitutes 40% of a state’s budget is not only good policy, it’s good business. States have credit ratings and those who are looking to invest follow those ratings. New Mexico’s oil and gas presence places us on good footing when industries shop states.
I’ve witnessed our Governor make bi-partisan, pragmatic decisions throughout her career and she didn’t disappoint while addressing the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s annual meeting last year. Recognizing that her lofty education goals, including tuition-free college, would be ceaselessly bound to a robust oil and gas sector the Governor stated that if the Democrats took over the White House in November she would petition that administration for a waiver from a ban on oil and gas production on federal lands. Educational programs are paramount and expensive. That is precisely why governors and legislators deem it imperative to consider responsible partnerships and their relative revenue streams. According to the Interior Department, the federal government sent states in 2018 $9 billion dollars generated from federal oil and gas leases. In fiscal year 2019, New Mexico received the lion’s share of the largesse raking in roughly $1.17 billion from federal leases.
The continued promotion of a thriving oil and gas industry will undoubtedly garner tangible results in every aspect of our economy, perhaps most importantly New Mexico’s 89 public school districts. In normal times, states struggle to cultivate and maintain dedicated, qualified teachers and support staff. In COVID times, as in any time where resources are severely strained vacancies, supply shortages, and transportation issues are all exposed to the public and must be rectified by the executive and the legislature. Revenues from natural gas production will inherit a large portion of the cost to keep 89 school districts doing what they need to do; educate are youth! This is so important to the Governor’s remarks given that 2/3 of natural gas production in New Mexico takes place on federal lands.
Absolutely continue to protect sacred and culturally sensitive areas. That remains a priority. We can do that while simultaneously applauding Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s efforts to acquire a waiver from a potential ruling by the incoming Biden Administration halting oil and gas leases on federal lands here in New Mexico.