Haaland called on the carpet by fellow Democrat over lack of leasing while Biden works to bring Venezuelan oil to market

At a Senate hearing recently Democrat Senator Joe Manchin called out Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland over the Administration’s lack of oil and gas leasing. The Rio Grande Foundation has recently noted that Haaland (and by extension the Biden Administration) have expressed great reluctance to expand domestic energy production.

On the other hand, presumably in an attempt to reduce gasoline prices, the Biden Administration has begun eliminating sanctions on oil-rich Venezuela.

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Five (recent) Times New Mexico Democrats have made (or tried to make) energy more expensive

With out-of-control gas prices and increasing fears of electricity shortages (especially in the West), energy and energy prices are certainly underpinning America’s ongoing inflation problem, and if things get bad enough with the power grid this summer, inflation may not be the worst of our problems.

And, while Americans see the rapid increase in gasoline prices every day on the road and experience it in their pockets, the fact is that natural gas prices are rising rapidly as well. This situation is largely driven by Democrat politicians (sometimes with the help of GOP collaborators) and their anti-energy philosophy. Here are just a few examples:

1) The Energy Transition Act, pushed by Gov. Lujan Grisham, which became law in 2019 (see votes House here and Senate here) is the worst of the worst. No piece of legislation has had a more profound impact on reducing New Mexico’s electricity reliability than ETA. It will have further negative impacts after the election.

2) At the behest of Gov. Lujan Grisham, the Environmental Improvement Board has adopted a “Clean Car Standard” which mandates a dramatic increase in the sale of electric vehicles in New Mexico and ties New Mexico law to California. While not directly on “energy,” the regulation imposes costly new controls on the source of energy used in your vehicle, thus increasing costs.

3) Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland (a former Congresswoman from New Mexico) controls hundreds of millions of acres of land that could be leased to bring down energy prices. Instead, the Administration has vastly reduced energy leases and raised taxes (royalties) on energy production.

4) Gov. MLG pushed the so-called “Clean Fuel Standard” which would have raised gasoline prices by 35 cents per gallon is one of the very worst Democrat energy bills in recent years. The bill narrowly failed in 2021 and then in 2022 it failed again on a tie vote.

5) Just one year ago (on June 8, 2021), a group of 24 so-called “progressive” New Mexico Democrats sent a letter to the Biden Administration applauding his ban on new oil and gas leases. Given the abject failure (and unpopularity) of Biden’s Administration and energy policies, this letter certainly could be used by possible opponents in a primary election.

This list JUST scratches the surface. There are numerous other examples of both “adopted” and “failed” policies like Sen. Sedillo-Lopez’s (failed) ban on fracking. Lujan Grisham also pushed “Net Zero” legislation that would have, if adopted, dramatically increased energy prices.

Biden announces 'largest release of oil reserves' in effort to curb gasoline prices | Gas | The Guardian

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NM’s unemployment rate highest in nation for 5th month in a row (since December, 2021)

New Mexico’s unemployment rate seems to have stagnated at a post-pandemic 5.3% rate, the highest in the nation. That is a reasonable rate by historical standards, but in a time of extreme inflation it seems to indicate that more New Mexicans than in any other state in the nation are able to continue filing for unemployment benefits even has jobs remain available.

And, of course, as we always remind our readers, unemployment rates are only part of the equation. New Mexico has always had and (this trend has both continued and worsened post-pandemic) to have a far lower workforce participation rate than do our neighbors.

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Episode 404: Carol Swaim deconstructs Critical Race Theory

On this week’s conversation Paul sits down with author and speaker Dr. Carol Swaim. Swaim is an academic, author, and writer who has taken on the issue of “critical race theory,” what it means, its “intellectual” beginnings, and why it is harmful to Americans of all races and classes. Swaim was recently in Albuquerque recently to give a talk and Paul jumped on the chance to sit down with her to discuss these important and timely issues. You don’t want to miss their conversation.

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Unintended consequences of policy efforts to abandon natural gas include starvation

We have often disagreed with Sen. Martin Heinrich’s big push to eliminate use of fossil fuels, including natural gas. But natural gas is not just used for home heating and cooking, it is a leading feed stock in food production.

A new report quoting a leading food economist, Máximo Torero, the chief economist at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, “has warned against moving away from natural gas production too soon, arguing more people will starve to death if the consequences are not thought through.”

Mr. Torero continued, saying, “If you switch the energy mix too quickly, you will increase the price of energy, then you will increase the price of fertilizers, you increase the price of food, more people dying of hunger. So what do you want?”

Natural gas is a key ingredient in the process used to make nitrogen-based fertilizers used on a range of crops, including corn and wheat. Natural gas accounts for 75% to 90% of operating costs in the production of nitrogen.

Fertilizer prices are hammering farmers: What does that mean for  agricultural prices? | FocusEconomics

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City of Albuquerque can’t cut taxes, instead grows city government by 20%

The City of Albuquerque may be “new and improved” as of last November, but a majority on City Council seem to believe that spending more money is the path to success. On Monday night the Council on a 7-2 vote passed a budget with an increase of 20%. Only Dan Lewis and Rene Grout voted “no.”

As the Journal article points out, “The budget includes 5% pay hikes for city workers – plus additional one-time incentives of up to $2,000 per employee – and significantly ups spending on rental support.”

Councilor Brook Bassan cited inflation as one of the causes of the massive budget uptick, but the final budget passed by Council is a shocking $15 million higher than the fiscal year 2023 proposal Mayor Tim Keller. The total city budget will total about $1.4 billion. The Keller administration estimates having over $100 million more in gross receipts tax to spend in 2023 than it budgeted for this year.

Alas, in February on a 1-8 vote, Council rejected a minimal 1/8 cent gross receipts tax reduction which would have reduced GRT taxes by $20 million dollars annually. Simply adhering to the Mayor’s budget outline and eliminating “free” bus service at a “cost” of $3 million would have nearly generated enough savings to reduce taxes.

Unfortunately, Albuquerque’s City Council seems more concerned about taking care of its own rather than helping average New Mexicans.

UPDATE: While not a large portion of the overall bill, the Council saw fit to add $250,000 to the budget to fund abortion provider Planned Parenthood through a “Council-directed sponsorship.” This has not been done in the past and the seemingly no-strings-attached nature of the grant raises all kinds of concerns from both moral and policy perspectives.

Spending Chart Graph Shows Increasing Expenditure Purchasing Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 26961701.

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New Mexico’s “energy transition” is already failing

We at the Rio Grande Foundation genuinely HATE saying “I told you so” when the schemes of New Mexico politicians fail. The Rail Runner, Spaceport, and ART bus system are just a few of the schemes that have clearly not worked out for our State.

But all of those pale in comparison to the disaster that is potentially unfolding in our electrical grid. Unfortunately, the makings of the impending disaster were sowed in 2019 with passage of the Energy Transition Act (MLG’s top priority in that session). But, we all know that the PRC recently decided to extend the life of the coal-fired San Juan Coal-fired station to keep the lights on THIS summer.

Recently, PNM reported that  HALF of the replacement solar power/battery storage for the summer of 2023 won’t be available in time.

In addition to slowing delivery of “renewable” projects, prices have risen dramatically. According to UtilityDive.com, “A shortage of new renewable projects available to interested buyers has caused prices for power purchase agreements to rise 9.7% since the beginning of 2022, and 28.5% since the beginning of 2021, according to an analysis by PPA marketplace LevelTen Energy.”

Tariffs on Chinese solar panels are also driving prices up and there is seemingly little willingness among domestic producers to ramp up production.

Inside Clean Energy: Wind and Solar Costs Have Risen. How Long Should We  Expect This Trend to Last? - Inside Climate News


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Episode 402: Daniel Suhr – Vaccine Mandates and Roe Leak

Daniel Suhr is a Managing Attorney with the Liberty Justice Center, a conservative non-profit legal firm. Paul and Daniel discuss vaccine mandates, the judiciary’s performance during COVID, and numerous other issues relating to COVID and the government’s use of emergencies. They also discuss the Roe v. Wade leak (and apparent decision) and their implications for the Court.

Daniel spoke at a Rio Grande Foundation luncheon on May 5, 2022. Podcasts of the interview with Paul Gessing and a radio appearance with Bob Clark are below.

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More Biden/Haaland price hikes at the pump due to canceled leases

The Biden Administration’s Department of the Interior (led by former New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland) has struck another blow on behalf of higher gas prices with their decision to cancel leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

While some news stories claim there was a “lack of interest” by industry in the Alaska lease issue, it is hard to understand what that could be driven by given record-setting gasoline prices across the nation.

The decision likely means the Biden administration will not hold a lease sale for offshore drilling this year. Environmental groups (naturally) praised the decision while Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of the American Petroleum Institute noted that “the administration talks about the need for more supply and acts to restrict it.”

While not DIRECTLY impacting New Mexico, Biden/Haaland have already slashed New Mexico lease sales.

FILE - Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks during a Tribal Nations Summit during Native...

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Federal government land management has long been a problem

The forest fires now raging in Northern New Mexico are tragic. As with any tragedy the causes are myriad and there is ample blame to go around. However, we DO know that the largest fire was a result of a “controlled” burn by the US Forest Service.

And, we know that federal land management practices have left a lot to be desired for decades in New Mexico with needed management having been abandoned in favor of simply letting the forest grow.

RGF’s Paul Gessing wrote the following in an opinion piece back in 2014:

Our efforts to restore state control over certain federally-managed lands are by no means based entirely on economics. Climate change is often cited in the media as the cause of recent forest fires that have raged in New Mexico and throughout the West. The reality is that poor federal management (or the lack thereof) is a major contributor to rampant fires. Going back to the Native Americans, lands were intensely managed. That ended when environmental zealots took control of Washington’s land management bureaucracies, eventually putting a stop to timber production and engaging in aggressive fire suppression that has caused a buildup of flammable material on forest floors.

We have further written about the issue here and here. Here is an even more detailed analysis from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).

Climate change, drought, and numerous other issues all play a role in the fires we are seeing, but improved land management remains an important tool in preventing the tragic situation we are seeing unfold in our State.

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