Interior Dept. Shortchanges New Mexico on Conservation Funding

The following is a press release from our pro-energy friends at the Western Energy Alliance. We felt that it was worth reposting the information in its entirety.

DENVER – Interior Secretary Deb Haaland recently announced that out of $1.6 billion in deferred maintenance funding for public lands nationwide, New Mexico will receive only $6.8 million. The conservation funds come primarily from federal oil and natural gas royalties, as directed by the Great American Outdoors Act. New Mexico’s share is paltry considering the state contributed $1.35 billion in royalties to the federal government and ranks first in oil production and second in natural gas on public lands. Contrast New Mexico’s share to these states which provide next to no federal oil and natural gas royalties:

  • Virginia – $247.5 million
  • North Carolina – $153.8 million
  • New York – $50.5 million
  • Washington – $50.3 million
  • New Jersey – $28.3 million
  • Massachusetts – $25.4 million
  • Oregon – $12.5 million

“It’s astounding that New Mexico contributes so much in oil and natural gas wealth for the country but is rewarded so meagerly. Instead of addressing needs at sites like Chaco Canyon and Aztec Ruins in New Mexico, prosperous costal states are allowed to cash in,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance. “To make matters worse, the president is on a path to eliminate the very source of revenue that underwrites national park deferred maintenance funding. By banning new leasing on federal lands and embarking on policies to make development on existing leases prohibitive, the federal government will soon struggle to pay for any additional public lands conservation.

“The policies that are the hallmark of the first 100 days are, paradoxically, a good way to ensure the massive backlog of maintenance at national parks remains into the future. Besides killing up to 58,676 oil and natural gas related jobs annually, the president’s ban threatens over 108,000 long-term jobs fixing national park infrastructure.

“The small share New Mexico will receive barely makes a dent in the $147 million maintenance backlog in the state’s national parks, including nearly $19 million at Chaco Cultural Historical Park and $5.2 million at Aztec Ruins National Monument. Rather, New Mexico’s $6.8 million share will go to repair dams, visitor facilities, roads, and water systems on Bureau of Land Management lands. It’s ironic the Interior Department is not doing more for Chaco, given Sec. Haaland has supported eliminating oil and natural gas development in the vicinity outside the park, supposedly to protect it. It seems like a missed opportunity to directly fund facilities and cultural resource protection inside the park.

“Furthermore, removing development will devastate the livelihoods of thousands of Indian mineral owners who wish to develop their oil and natural gas resources as a means to provide for their families. Annually,21,000 Navajo mineral owners receive about $100 million from oil companies that develop the minerals on their behalf. Depriving Native Americans of their royalty income in an economically disadvantaged area is not justifiable from an environmental justice perspective,” added Sgamma.

The funds are authorized under the Great American Outdoors Act passed by Congress in an overwhelming bipartisan fashion last summer. The act authorizes up to $1.9 billion annually, predominantly from oil and natural gas production on non-park, non-wilderness public lands, for maintenance and conservation in national parks and other protected public lands. The act also permanently funds the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund to the tune of $900 million annually, which is exclusively generated from offshore oil and natural gas. Western Energy Alliance supported the bill because it provides an appropriate balance between responsible energy development on working landscapes while preserving our nation’s treasured public spaces.

“The federal oil and natural gas program is basically the sole source of new conservation and maintenance funding for our public lands. With his ban on federal oil and natural gas leasing, President Biden is risking $2.8 billion annually for our national parks and other iconic public lands,” added Sgamma.

# # #

Western Energy Alliance represents 200 companies engaged in all aspects of environmentally responsible exploration and production of oil and natural gas in the West. Alliance members are independents, the majority of which are small businesses with an average of fourteen employees. Learn more

Note to editors: The  list of FY2021 projects by state is included in the agency’s press release.

New Mexico: $ 6,805,000

Chaco Culture National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)

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Tipping Point episode 291: Energy, COVID, Freedom Index, Bleak Report for New Mexico and more

On the latest Tipping Point NM conversation, Paul and Wally discuss a few articles showing that there is “no such thing as a free lunch” when it comes to energy.

ABQ/Bernalillo County remains in Yellow. San Juan County moves from Turquoise to green. There is no end in sight for MLG’s rules.

Back to School seems to be going fine, but the number of students in school is down.

Gov. signs “food freedom” bill but vetoes “earmark” of federal funds for unemployment insurance. The unemployment veto is important for both policy reasons as well as separation of powers.

Paul goes through the results of the Foundation’s annual Freedom Index :

New Mexico’s Human Services Department’s data book paints a bleak picture of NM.


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Regulations are preventing self-protection

The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.

Ten people, including a Boulder police officer, were killed in a shooting at the King Soopers supermarket in Boulder on March 22. One of the victims was Denny Stong.

I knew Denny. I was planning to attend an event with him at the beginning of May. He was 20, and his life was tragically cut short. His death is a catastrophic loss for his family, his friends and his community.

This young man was also looking to obtain a concealed-carry permit from the state of Colorado. Unfortunately, Denny was too young: Colorado requires people to be 21 years of age to be issued a concealed handgun carry permit.

I blame the gunman for Denny’s death. But I also blame the government and Kroger Company for leaving him defenseless.

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And the legislators who voted for freedom in 2021 are…

The Rio Grande Foundation tracks floor votes on floor votes in the New Mexico Legislature through our Freedom Index.  Votes that are the MOST pro-freedom are scored up to +8 points while the most anti-freedom bills are rated as low as -8. Legislators receive points based on those votes.

One additional note: comparing House and Senate results is problematic as the two bodies vote on different bills with the Senate typically taking fewer overall votes.

Freedom Index Results

House: best

  • James Strickler 122 points
  • Stefani Lord 109 points
  • Randal Pettigrew 108 points

Senate: best

  • Cliff Pirtle 68 points
  • Mark Moores 65 points

House: worst

  • Miguel Garcia -189 points
  • Speaker Brian Egolf -187 points

Senate: worst

  • Jeff Steinborn & Mimi Stewart -150
  • Liz Stefanics -146
  • Katy Duhigg -145

New Mexico State Capitol (Roundhouse), Santa Fe - Tripadvisor

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War on private prisons doesn’t help anyone

The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Saturday, April 3, 2021.

Contractor-operated prisons, or so-called “private prisons,” have been vilified among progressives, even though their success in preparing inmates for productive engagement after their incarceration should be lauded by all social and political ideologies as part of the solution to social justice reform.

HB 40, which would eliminate all privately-managed correctional facilities in New Mexico, (was introduced in the recent 60-day legislative session but failed to clear the House).

Last month, President Biden signed an executive order to end new contracts between the Department of Justice and contractor-run corrections facilities, which almost exclusively house foreign citizens convicted of federal crimes.

Contractor-run correctional facilities perform a valuable service. They help control overcrowding in publicly-run prisons, while providing more and better rehabilitation opportunities. Typically, inmates are safer as rates of assault were lower at contractor-run facilities than rates in publicly-managed prisons.

Opened in 1998, the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs is a contractor-managed facility, operated by GEO Group on a former World War II training base. As with all correctional facilities in the United States, it is managed in compliance with standards set by the American Correctional Association. The facility was most recently reaccredited in 2015 with a perfect score.

The facility provides inmates with training, work programming, recreation and educational opportunities. GEO’s in-custody and post-release “continuum of care” programming, developed by experts in criminal justice, substance abuse, psychology and other areas keeps residents engaged for positive change, is critical for them to be successful once they serve their sentence and to avoid reoffending. A study from the Rand Corporation found that inmates who participated in correctional education programs were 43% less likely to recidivate than inmates who did not. And, oftentimes, state budget cuts often hit prison programming first, while private contractors have flexibility and can invest their own resources to continue to do what is best for those in their care.

While visiting another GEO Group-managed facility here in New Mexico, I met residents and staff who spoke highly of their experiences with the programming offered. Many residents have struggled with substance abuse challenges and require acute counseling and rehabilitation programming to help overcome their addiction. According to the Sage Neuroscience Center, all of the top 10 causes of death in New Mexico can be at least partially attributed to drug and alcohol abuse. Program residents must complete the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) as part of their sentence. With new executive orders underway and the threat of HB 40, these programs could be shut down, potentially forcing these individuals into a jailhouse general population where they would not be able to get the services they need to survive and thrive after they serve their sentence. Revoking important substance abuse programs would destine many of these people to the damning cycle of ongoing drug and alcohol abuse, harming not only themselves, but also their families, and local communities.

In short, all contractor-operated facilities follow the same protocols, policies and procedures as publicly-run facilities under the New Mexico Department of Corrections. Furthermore, the contractors have strict oversight of their operations that include on-site monitors, something that the government facilities and the state lack. Additionally, contractors are held to the terms of their agreement with the state and are penalized for any shortcomings, unlike their government-run counterparts.

Most importantly, as our nation shifts its corrections’ paradigm to highlight judicial reforms and inmate reentry, we should leverage all of the successful tools at our disposal to provide inmates with the care, attention, and training they need inside facility walls – whether contractor run or publicly run – in order to be well-functioning members of society when they rejoin the public.

Continuing to wage war on contractor-run prisons doesn’t solve any problems or help inmates. If a program works, it shouldn’t matter who is managing it. By working together, we can rethink our prison system for the benefit of everyone.

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There’s no “free lunch” when it comes to energy

The recent New Mexico Legislative session and numerous federal policy initiatives are designed for the supposed purpose of reducing CO2 emissions and thus saving the environment. While touted as good for the economy these policies have significant economic costs.

Unfortunately, while the US is already reducing CO2 emissions, China is most definitely not. In fact, even the New York Times recently covered this issue and noted that:

The country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions are 28 percent of the global total, roughly the same as the next three biggest emitters combined: the United States, the European Union and India.

Coal being loaded on to a cargo ship at a port in Jiangsu Province, China, in November. Industry groups say China needs to use large amounts of coal for electricity and industry for years to come.

Furthermore, while the push towards greater use of electric vehicles (not to mention use of batteries in electricity storage for the electrical grid) is a priority of the Biden Administration and New Mexico’s political leadership, that push will require more mining. As this Reuters article points out the push to electrification will require more permitting of mines.

Theoretically more mining could help New Mexico’s economy which has great potential for “rare earth minerals,” but the same environmentalists who are pushing for “clean” energy are also the first to object to new mining permits. How that tension is resolved is anybody’s guess, but so far it has meant simply exporting America’s hunt for minerals to poor nations with fewer restrictions.

The Center for Land Use Interpretation

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 290: Corey DeAngelis – Education Success Evidence and Issues

On this week’s podcast interview Paul sits down with Corey DeAngelis, an education expert with American Federation for Children and numerous other education reform organizations. They discuss how the fight for educational choice has ramped up during COVID and discuss both the empirical evidence on a number of education issues as well as some recent success stories and what is driving them.

DeAngelis is a tireless advocate for education reform. Check out this exciting and timely discussion!

Corey A. DeAngelis | Cato Institute


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With no end to COVID restrictions in sight, Democrat-run Legislature’s failure to address emergencies looms

Yesterday New Mexicans were subjected to yet another press conference from the Gov. and her health advisor David Scrase. In terms of COVID 19 the news is all good. More counties continue to move into the turquoise level although (unfortunately) many major population centers (including Bernalillo County) remain in yellow.

But regardless of which level various counties are at, David Scrase and the Gov. have said nothing of substance with regard to when the health emergency will end or even when ALL New Mexico businesses can reopen. In fact, the 2021 New Mexico Senior Olympics has been canceled and numerous businesses (bars, bowling alleys, indoor entertainment centers, movie theaters, and trampoline parks) REMAIN closed in the most populated areas of the State.

And, while the 2021 legislative session could have been MUCH worse, the fact is that placing restrictions on this and future governors’ emergency powers was truly THE critical issue facing the State. Unfortunately, Democrats in the Legislature were unwilling to pass needed legislation, especially after the Gov. stated she’d veto such efforts (even though a constitutional amendment would not have required her signature.

Sadly, none of the emergency restrictions even received a vote and were (obviously) not prioritized in the special session: HJR 6, HB 139, and SB 74 were the bills. New Mexico voters MUST take into account the political decision by New Mexico’s elected Democrats NOT to restore a balance of power even in so-called “emergencies.”

Reopening Map: Most New Mexico counties are now in Turquoise level | KOB 4

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Report from the road AND California

Recently Paul and his family took a family (driving) trip to California. Paul lives in Bernalillo County which to date has achieved Yellow status under Gov. Lujan Grisham’s latest COVID rubric so comparisons will be with New Mexico’s Yellow tier. Notably, California is considered among the very most locked-down states (44th most open) while New Mexico is now 33rd according to Wallethub.

Here are a few thoughts about NM vs. California:

    1. CA just reopened both indoor AND outdoor dining, but the dining situation is quite similar to what exists in Bernalillo County;
    2. CA has bigger natural outdoor crowds such as Monterrey Pier and Santa Cruz. There are signs threatening $100 fines for no mask wearing outside and I was told that enforcement did occur, but we never had a problem even if we didn’t wear a mask outside. Overall mask wearing was between 75 and 90% at both places. Beaches DID NOT require masks and wearing of them was minimal on the beach. Amusement park rides were open at Santa Cruz Pier (with masks);
    3. Movie theaters were open in California;
    4. One disturbing note was in driving through Arizona which we did (twice), many of the chain stores and hotel had “masks required” signs despite the state having dropped its mask requirement. It is going to be interesting to see how businesses respond. This SEEMS like an example of “corporate attorneys” keeping overly-cautious policies in place. It will be up to the public to push back by taking their business elsewhere. A positive note: employees at these businesses seemingly DID NOT enforce mask requirements where they existed.

Notably, gas prices in some places in California exceeded $4.00 per gallon while a typical price was $3.50 or so.

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 289: NM Congressional District 1 Candidates Set for June Election, Marijuana Legalization and More

On this week’s discussion, Paul shares his first-hand perspective of another locked-down state, California including the similarities and differences with New Mexico.

Melanie Stansbury wins the Democratic Party nomination for New Mexico’s first congressional district (CD1) in an upset. She will face Mark Moores and others in a June election. What distinguishes these two candidates?

Marijuana is legalized in a special session of the New Mexico Legislature. How it happened and what might the rollout of this legislation look like for New Mexico

Back to school (in-person) for (some) New Mexico public school students.

Kentucky Education Savings Accounts are adopted. Will this trend come to New Mexico? Don’t hold your breath.

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