Responses to recent ABQ Business Outlook letter writers

A few recent letter writers to the Albuquerque Journal’s Business Outlook section attacked the Rio Grande Foundation’s views and its funding. One of these letter writers happened to be from the Sierra Club. I responded with the following which was published in the Business Outlook section on Monday, January 6, 2014:

Some letter writers have attacked the Rio Grande Foundation on these pages and I feel compelled to set the record straight. A representative of the Sierra Club attacked us for allegedly being funded by those who would “burn the dirtiest, cheapest energy they can.”

The reality is that Rio Grande Foundation is funded primarily by New Mexicans who believe that free markets, not government mandates, are the best means of creating economic prosperity. While we do accept corporate donations when those businesses also support free market principles (by no means a common occurrence), those donations pale in comparison to the $25 million the Sierra Club accepted between 2007 and 2010 from the natural gas industry.

Now that fracking has made natural gas a competitor for “renewables,” the Club has changed direction and, misguidedly in my opinion, calls the natural gas industry, “dirty, dangerous, and run amok” on its “Beyond Natural Gas website.”

A second letter writer makes a series of claims out of left field relating to what is subsidized by government and what is not. Law enforcement should be subsidized by government. Roads have historically been and will likely continue to be subsidized by the taxpayer, but they also generate significant user-fees in the form of gas taxes and are a basic requirement for a variety of public services.

Nonetheless, European nations have relied on privately-operated toll roads for decades and as gas taxes decline as a source of revenue due to increased fuel efficiency, we hope that private-sector providers will play a larger role in America’s transportation system.

My organization has opposed and continues to oppose the RailRunner because its high cost outweighs any benefit it provides relative to our transportation network. We also believe that the same transportation role could be performed better and far more cheaply by buses.

Paul J. Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation

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