The federal government is again proving itself to be a capricious keeper of New Mexico’s federally-controlled lands. Earlier this year, allegedly due to the sequester, the Obama Administration took $26 million in royalty payments from New Mexico. Now, under the new budget agreement which increased taxes and spending, New Mexico will lose $100 million in royalty payments over the next decade. Rep. Pearce is the only Congressional representative from New Mexico to have voted against the deal.
The unfortunate thing is not simply that New Mexico will receive less money from the oil and gas (and other resources) used on our federal lands. The problem is that it seems to be “open-season” on royalties. Because they, at least to Washington, represent “spending” once the funds are collected in DC, royalty payments are just another option for covering for Washington’s out-of-control spending habits. In other words, after two attacks on our royalty payments in a single year, expect this trend to continue.
As far as I know, there is only one way to stop Washington from stealing our royalties and that is for New Mexico to re-take control of its federally-owned lands. The good news is that we have bi-partisan support among New Mexico public officials for such a process. The important thing is for both houses of the Legislature and for Gov. Martinez to follow Utah’s lead and translate that nascent support into legal demands for that land to be turned over.