Errors of Enchantment

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Another EV debacle: The BioPark shuttle

10.23.2023

Back in January we reported on the Albuquerque BioPark’s challenging transition to an electric shuttle. Sadly, as Downtown Albuquerque News points out in a recent story (the news source is available by email subscription only but relevant items have been posted below), there are STILL issues with the shuttle. And, with River of Lights fast approaching, there is “no timeline for putting it back in service.”

Notably, as is so often the case with EV’s, problems have arisen with service on both warm and cold days.

Op-ed: Gov.’s unelected board shouldn’t be driving state’s EV policies

10.23.2023

The following article appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday, October 22nd, 2023.  You can find out more about the EIB in-person hearing on November 15 here.

An unelected board called the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) is currently accepting public comments to determine whether New Mexicans have the freedom to move around this big, beautiful state — or not. We have created a website to help average New Mexicans defend that right. Go to: KeepYourCarsNM.com.

The governor is pushing regulations that would force New Mexicans to buy vastly more electric vehicles than they currently do. If adopted, 82% of the vehicles sold in our state will have to be electric within a few short years.

There is nothing inherently wrong with electric vehicles, but their purchase should be a personal choice. Currently, 99.2% of New Mexicans choose gas-powered cars. Public polls find that strong majorities of Americans have no plans to buy an electric car.

There are many reasons electric vehicles should not be forced on consumers. Both EVs and gas cars have their environmental pluses and minuses. Yes, gas cars produce CO2 at the tailpipe, but gas vehicles continue to get more efficient. Between 2002 and 2022 model years, emissions decreased 27.6% while fuel efficiency rose by 35.4%. They continue to get better over time.

Like gasoline cars, EVs rely on fossil fuels. A 2019 study found that if EVs were to replace all gas-powered vehicles it would increase electricity demand 20% to 50%. That additional electricity is not going to be easy to produce without adding fossil fuels to the grid. Tellingly, the largest EV charging station in California currently gets its power from diesel generators.

EVs also rely on mined materials. Those are often produced in foreign countries under deplorable conditions and with few environmental safeguards. Mining, shipping, and processing these materials all use tremendous amounts of energy. There is no “free lunch” with EVs. As with every technology, there are environmental tradeoffs.

The performance challenges with EVs are even more significant. Charging stations are not readily available in many parts of New Mexico. Portions of the Navajo Nation don’t even have reliable electricity.

Charging can also be painfully slow. The most common publicly available charging station is “Level 2.” It will provide between 12 and 80 miles per hour — far slower than a typical gas pump. Battery performance further suffers in extreme heat and cold, both of which are common in our desert environment, which is hard on batteries.

The current electric vehicle marketplace is heavily reliant on government mandates and cross-subsidies and EVs offer serious challenges. Ford Motor Co. lost $66,446 on each EV sold. This means that in order to maintain profitability they had to make up the difference from gas vehicles.

EVs don’t pay New Mexico gas tax, which is used to fund the roads we all drive on. This is especially concerning because EVs weigh more than do gas-powered cars. A British study found that because of that weight, EVs do 2.24 times more damage to roads than do (internal combustion) cars. Road repairs of course require massive amounts of energy and petroleum.

Even parking garages may require retrofitting to handle the added weight of EVs.

You may like or even own an EV, but there are complicated issues with tradeoffs that can impact New Mexico’s most vulnerable populations. At the very least this is an issue for our elected Legislature, not an unelected board installed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

There are many ways to improve the environment. The case for EVs is certainly not clear enough to warrant such an aggressive push.

Please contact the EIB today at KeepYourCarsNM.com and tell them you want to keep your car.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation.

Tipping Point NM episode 549 Robert Bryce – Analysis of Flawed Electric Vehicle Mandates for New Mexico

10.20.2023

On this week’s conversation Paul sits down with energy journalist and commentator Robert Bryce. Bryce is the author of 6 books on energy and writes regularly at his substack. We discuss various energy issues, but especially focus on Gov. Lujan Grisham’s headlong push for electric vehicle mandates and subsidies and why they are so flawed. You don’t want to miss this timely conversation!

Report ranks New Mexico a mediocre 35th in school choice options

10.20.2023

New Mexico’s poor educational performance is well-known, but according to a new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) the State has failed to empower parents to choose the educational options that make sense for their children.

The report called the State Education Freedom Index ranks all 50 states on various and comprehensive measurements of school choice. New Mexico ranked a mediocre 35th out of 50 in the report. You can click on the map below to read the report.

Tipping Point Episode 548: Keep Your Cars, DOE Say No to New Mexico Hydrogen Hub, Big Spenders in Santa Fe and more

10.18.2023

Voter guide to ABQ local election (and a note about Santa Fe)

10.18.2023

Local elections are very important in New Mexico and early voting begins in earnest on October 21st (click for a list of locations). Turnout  in these races tends to be very low, so it is  critical to  get to the polls and vote.

There are city council races in some areas of the City. While RGF cannot endorse candidates we have worked with the HELP coalition which does that here. HELP is a coalition of businesses and pro-economic growth people who want to move Albuquerque forward on crime and the economy. You can listen to a podcast with Carol Wight of the NM Restaurant Association (with HELP)  about important issues in the City. 

Here is a list of candidates for APS school board. The union DID endorse candidates and you can bet that anyone endorsed by the union is NOT an education reformer. 

Sample ballots for Bernalillo County are available here.

RGF has consistently advocated for “no” votes on bonds because your property taxes WILL go down if a bond is voted down. Rarely in recent memory have bonds been voted down.

Santa Fe voters will face a proposal to levy a 3% tax on the sale of homes in the City sold for over $1 million. As RGF has explained previously this is a terrible idea that will not solve or even seriously address the City’s housing situation.

Bernalillo County Clerk: 2022 General Election Update #5 - YouTube

Albuquerque continuing to buy buses from failing, bankrupt bus company that can’t provide parts for Wyoming fleet

10.17.2023

The City of Albuquerque’s troubled bus system is (like the State) in the process of “electrifying its fleet. After they failed with “Build Your Dreams” the City went with fossil fueled buses, but Mayor Keller hasn’t given up on his dreams of “electrifying” the City’s bus fleet.

The City has 5 buses in its fleet and is planning to purchase another 20 from the bankrupt Proterra bus company by 2026. There are inherent risks involved with buying expensive and complicated products from bankrupt companies. According to a report from the Heartland Institute the bus manufacturing company has caused serious problems in Wyoming:

Eight electric buses purchased by Southern Teton Area Rapid Transit (START) have broken down, and when any of the vehicles will be up and running again is anyone’s guess. Help is not going to be on its way anytime soon because California-based Proterra, the company that manufactured the defective buses, has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Once a darling of the Biden administration’s vaunted “energy transition,” the company cannot say when – if ever – spare parts will come to the rescue.

It would seem that the City might want to find another company to provide its buses (electric or not). Perhaps Proterra’s sorry track record will convince them?

Pennsylvania Bus

New Mexico’s out-of-control welfare problem

10.16.2023

New Mexico politicians have a conflict of interest. Generous welfare benefits get them votes and buy political loyalty, but as the LFC notes (indirectly), these generous benefits also hold our State by reducing workforce participation. The LFC doesn’t come out and say it, but how else do people who don’t work support themselves?

As the chart below from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity highlights (though its purpose is to highlight differences between California and Florida), New Mexico’s welfare spending is higher than any state besides New York (which has a much higher cost of living).

RGF has certainly criticized New Mexico’s failing education system. We stand by that but also note that if there is a culture of welfare dependency backed up by generous welfare benefits, the perceived need to get an education is reduced. 

Reducing the generosity of NM’s welfare benefits is a hard conversation that needs to be had.

“Blue” New Mexico fails to win race for hydrogen “hub”

10.13.2023

The Biden Energy Department has named a total of 7 so-called “hydrogen hubs” which will split a total of $7 billion in federal funding to “accelerate the commercial-scale deployment of hydrogen infrastructure.

The Rio Grande Foundation is agnostic on hydrogen as a technology although we are certainly not excited about $7 billion in federal spending for it. Somewhat surprisingly, despite New Mexico’s oil and gas infrastructure and resources combined with “blue state” politics (including Governor and its entire Congressional delegation), the Biden Administration did not award one of its hubs to New Mexico.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on X: "Making New Mexico a national hydrogen  hub will: ✓ Create new jobs ✓ Diversify our state's economy ✓ Support  reducing greenhouse gas emissions ✓ Spur new

RGF launches “Keep Your Cars” initiative — take action now!

10.13.2023

Rio Grande Foundation has committed itself to opposing the Gov’s attempt to eliminate gas vehicles in New Mexico. We need New Mexicans from all over the state to send a message to the Environmental Improvement Board through our website: KeepYourCarsNM.com.

Please take a minute or two to go to KeepYourCarsNM to join us in pushing back against the Gov.’s latest overreach. Please share this information with at least FIVE New Mexico friends! Together, we can defeat MLG.

Keep Your Cars NM

Episode 547: Energy Policy and Impacts with Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance

10.12.2023

Paul talks energy policy and its impacts with Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance.

The impact of the Middle East war on energy prices.

Kathleen Sgamma sets the record straight in a House of Representatives hearing.

The impact of Biden administration policies on energy in New Mexico and nationwide.

Conflict issues related to Secretary Deb Haaland’s daughter and her political activities.

Access to oil and gas under attack on federal and state lands in New Mexico.

The problems being created by the rapid push for electric vehicles.

EV’s not popular among Americans in new poll

10.12.2023

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham continues to push her mandate which would force New Mexicans to buy electric vehicles. But, that effort at odds with new polling just published by Yahoo Finance. You can explore the results below, but 57 percent of Americans expressed an aversion to buying an EV in the near future. That compares to about 31 percent who are likely. or somewhat likely to buy one.

According to the article associated with the, “70% of those over the age of 65 would not (buy an EV), along with 60% of respondents that had an annual income below $50,000. The elderly and low-income are two large groups in New Mexico meaning that EV’s are likely even less popular here than in some other states.

You can submit comments on the EIB’s proposed mandates directly to the EIB through: pamela.jones@state.nm.us

New York Times Highlights New Mexico education woes

10.11.2023

Even in stories that aren’t technically about New Mexico our State’s education policy failures are highlighted for all to see. The chart below is from the New York Times Morning Update. The story actually highlights the success of schools managed by the Department of Defense.

There are a few pertinent quotes from the article that are worthwhile:

Perhaps the most important lesson is that the schools are excelling not by discovering some new secret about education. They are doing what decades of research has suggested is successful.

Consistent with military culture, they set high standards and create a disciplined classroom culture.

During the pandemic, the military’s schools reopened relatively quickly — and it’s clear that extended closures were terrible for children.

More of their families have two married parents than is the case nationwide. By definition, at least one parent in each military family is employed.

New Mexico Democrat Senator expresses frustration with lack of strategic planning…by Democrats

10.11.2023

With few exceptions Democrats have controlled New Mexico politics since 1930. It is therefore rather ironic to see the following opinion piece from Democrat Sen. Bill Tallman. In the article he decries the State’s (read his party’s) lack of “strategic planning.”

I provide a few of HIS bullet points and briefly discuss them:

  • Replace oil and gas revenues: While Tallman cites a study claiming that revenues from oil and gas will start to decline after 2030 that remains to be seen. The New Mexico Legislature SHOULD work to diversify the economy and the Rio Grande Foundation has plenty of ideas for that, but neither Tallman nor his Party have expressed any interest. Worse, we have been in an oil and gas boom for several years and have almost nothing to show for it.
  • Education: Tallman argues that education reforms are implemented in a “piecemeal fashion.” Of course our panelists at the recent OAKNM education conference have put forth numerous ideas (private choice and Mississippi’s model) with no interest expressed by Democrats in the Legislature (with a few tiny exceptions).
  • Capital outlay: Tallman is spot-on here. New Mexico’s capital outlay process is a total disaster and driven by no data or even needs-based assessments. Again, Tallman’s own Democratic Party controls Santa Fe. Why not put forth a detailed reform agenda?

NM house democrats pass proposed 2024 FY budget - YouTube

New Mexico: exporter of college graduates

10.10.2023

We commented on a recent by New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee that considered problems with the State’s economy. One of the problems we face is the quality of our workforce.

Sadly, costly initiatives like “free” college are not likely to succeed in improving New Mexico’s workforce because we lose so many college graduates (on net). As the map below highlights New Mexico lost 24% more college graduates than it attracted in 2021. You can see the full story and interactive map at KRQE Channel 13’s excellent report on the LFC report.

Even before the Gov. instituted “free” college New Mexico was among the biggest-spending states on higher education with little to show for it.

Big-spenders in Santa Fe looking for massive growth

10.09.2023

New Mexico remains in them middle of its largest budget boom ever thanks to record oil and gas production and revenues. And, according to a new article in the Santa Fe New Mexican the appetite for bigger government shows no sign of being satiated.

Agencies representing about 44% of the state’s general fund spending are requesting an additional $890 million for fiscal year 2025, an average increase of 20.5%, according to a recent report by the Legislative Finance Committee.

The story went on to quote Senate Finance Committee Chair George Muñoz as saying, “My cautionary tale is we’ve had humongous increases, almost doubling the budget 15 to 20% a year for the last couple of years, and it’s unsustainable from here forward.”

Meanwhile, Charles Sallee, director of the Legislative Finance Committee, said some agencies are requesting increases of 40% or even almost 50%.

Some Hate, But Most Love the FY 2018 Spending Spree — CFM Strategic  Communications

World’s largest EV charging station powered by diesel generators

10.09.2023

As Gov. Lujan Grisham’s plans to have her appointed Environmental Improvement Board issue regulation that would force vastly increased numbers of electric vehicles on New Mexicans, it is worth remembering that EV’s also rely on traditional fossil fuels.

Curiously, as this and other news stories reported recently, the world’s largest EV charging station (Harris Ranch which is based in California and sports 98 bays) is fueled by diesel generators.

According to one of numerous articles about the Harris Ranch facility, “Superchargers charge vehicles up to the 80% sweet spot in as little as 20 minutes, but to provide that kind of power for nearly 100 bays takes something solar can’t provide — diesel generators.”

You can submit comments on the EIB’s proposed mandates directly to the EIB through: pamela.jones@state.nm.us

The ABQ Journal had an excellent opinion piece by former Rio Grande Sun editor Robert Trapp (no conservative) decrying the Gov.’s proposed mandates on his community.

Op-ed: Federal government shouldn’t dictate credit card fees

10.09.2023

The following opinion piece appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on October 8, 2023. It was written by RGF board member Julie Wright.

I love eating New Mexican food at Tomasita’s. When I do, I often pay — as many customers do — with a credit card. It’s just easier than running by the ATM and making sure that I have enough cash on hand to buy lunch.

It is unfortunate that the owner and manager of the restaurant is asking for the federal government to impose price controls and routing mandates on the credit card industry, as he wrote in a (Sept. 30 Journal) opinion piece.

As someone who manages a small business with a lot of credit card transactions myself, I understand the impact of credit card fees on my company’s bottom line, but — like a vast majority of other businesses — I’d rather dramatically expand the number of customers I serve and make them happy than limit my company to cash and other forms of payment.

More importantly, the last thing we need is a federal law dictating to businesses what they can charge for their services. Someone who owns and manages a private business in New Mexico should understand better than most that empowering government to set prices via routing mandates in such an important sector of our economy will be catastrophic. That’s exactly what the Credit Card Competition Act (S. 1838/H.R. 3881) would do if Congress passes it. And that’s exactly why virtually every financial institution in the U.S., every major airline, millions of union workers, and many retailers with rewards programs oppose this bill.

Here are a few important facts. The average credit card transaction is $96, compared to about $22 for cash. Restaurants and other businesses make a lot more money accepting credit, and cash is of course not free, but its costs are just less transparent that debit and credit.

And then there are the politics of the issue. Tomasita’s accepts American Express. They are the second-largest credit card issuer in the U.S. and happen to have the highest fees. Ironically, AMEX is exempt from the federal legislation he is calling for. That doesn’t make much sense at all. Our new reality could be an AMEX monopoly, where they are the second network on every credit card, charging the highest fees and gaining market dominance by virtue of this bill. Small businesses could end up paying more if the Credit Card Competition Act passes. If that sounds crazy, many actually had higher debit costs after similar regulations were imposed in 2010.

Perhaps the most outrageous statement in his article was that businesses like his “get almost nothing back for paying credit card fees.” That’s simply not true. Aside from the much higher average transaction amounts, credit card fees pay for the convenience of the global financial network, which delivers payments into the businesses’ accounts immediately. No room is left for theft — either by employees, customers, or thieves — and no trips to the bank are necessary.

And, don’t forget about the points and cashback for consumers and small businesses with cards.

Americans can take vacations, earn cashback, and gain access to all manner of benefits through the strategic use of credit card points. These points are valuable — roughly $100 billion a year back to consumers and businesses — and are yet another way in which credit cards help businesses of all kinds expand their customer bases and bring in more revenue.

I appreciate our local restaurants and am sad that so many closed during the pandemic, but overturning the entire American financial system is not the solution.

Julie Wright is a board member with New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, a research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.

credit cards.jpg

Conservative speakers unwelcome on New Mexico (taxpayer-funded) college campuses

10.06.2023

Former collegiate swimmer and activist for keeping women’s sports exclusive to women Riley Gaines was in Albuquerque to speak to a group sponsored through University of New Mexico (the talk was actually held at Kiva Auditorium downtown.

Sadly, as the tweet below from Ms.  Gaines notes, the University has asked her to pay $10,000 due to the high level of police presence needed to control the leftist protestors. A follow up conversation with a media outlet that questioned the University on the matter resulted in the claim that the price tag would be less than $10,000.

It doesn’t matter. Conservative speakers cannot be held to a different standard than their leftist counterparts because those same leftists represent. a violent threat to anyone who counters their radical ideology.

Sadly, NMSU was recently pressured by radical left-wing politicians to NOT host conservative speakers.

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RGF president provides extensive comments for KOAT Channel 7 report on Hollywood subsidies

10.06.2023

The Rio Grande Foundation has long opposed New Mexico’s film subsidies, so it was highly gratifying to have our perspective backed up by the Legislative Finance Committee’s report which found the subsidies to be ineffective at fostering economic growth.

KOAT Channel 7 did a story on the issue and gave RGF the best opportunity to explain some of the problems with New Mexico’s generous film subsidies we’ve ever had. Check it out here or below:

 

 

Tipping Point episode 545: Albuquerque City Council Elections – HELP Coalition with Carol Wight

10.05.2023

On this week’s interview Paul interviews Carol Wight of the New Mexico Restaurant Association and the local HELP coalition regarding HELP’s efforts in this fall’s local elections. Paul and Carol discuss the political dynamic in Albuquerque and previous (successful) efforts by HELP to transform City Council in a more positive direction. What are their past accomplishments? What needs to be done still?

Who are the candidates up for election this fall and when does early voting start?

LFC report notes workforce participation challenge, lacking in recommendations

10.05.2023

Fresh off publication of an excellent report trashing New Mexico’s film subsidies the Legislative Finance Committee has produced a new report looking at the issue of New Mexico’s low workforce participation rate.

Here is one of many choice quotes analyzing the problem (which reflects RGF’s work on the issue):

While unemployment rates have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the share of the state’s working age population participating in the labor force is persistently low. Social services, economic development, tax rates, pension systems, the service industry, and virtually every other area of the economy is impacted when there are fewer people working to support those who do not work.

While the report further (correctly) notes that “misalignment between the state’s workforce skills and industry is a challenge for New Mexico’s
economic future,” the report focuses most of its attention on job training programs and other economic development incentives.

Sadly, some of the fundamental issues facing New Mexico’s workforce are not contemplated in the report. These include:

  1. Our failing education and the need for dramatic reforms that might include everything from Arizona-style education savings accounts to improved charter school laws to simply embracing Mississippi’s approach to reading. Having students prepared to enter the workforce is vastly better than having an unprepared workforce or having to “backfill” through programs like JTIP.
  2. New Mexico should generally move away from targeted economic development programs from LEDA and JTIP and focus on basic reforms like GRT reform/reduction, income tax reduction, and regulatory reform.
  3. Notably, the State’s massive investment in “free” college does NOT appear to be a central focus of the report in terms of improving the match between workers and the workforce.
  4. Also left out of the report is the generosity of New Mexico’s welfare programs. Providing money to people in lieu of work is a great way to keep people out of the workforce. We. recommend the LFC take a closer look at ways the State can reform its approach to welfare programs in an effort to boost workforce participation.

Biden is ALSO coming for your gas vehicle

10.04.2023

We have written extensively in this space about MLG’s efforts to get rid of gas vehicles in New Mexico. Sadly (but not surprisingly) the Biden Administration is pushing regulations to do the same thing.

Under the latest regulatory push,  new autos sold in the United States would achieve an average fuel economy of 58 miles per gallon by 2032.  In order for automakers to achieve that average, about two-thirds of the new cars they sell by that year would have to be all-electric.

Comments are due by October 16, 2023. If you are inclined to comment, you can do so here. 

RGF has commented in opposition. You can read those by applying the comment tracking number below here. We have listed some of the major flaws with EV’s here. 

Comment Tracking Number: lnc-aod7-06pz

In the clash of the EV chargers, it's Tesla vs. everyone else | MIT Technology Review

Episode 544: EV Mandates to Include Charging Stations, LFC Report on Film Subsidies, Soccer Stadium is Back

10.04.2023

On this week’s show Paul and Wally discuss a few big and important topics of long-standing interest to RGF.

MLG’s Construction Industries Division is planning to implement a new EV charging station mandate that will have negative impacts on apartment developers and commercial real estate alike. The ABQ Journal has an excellent editorial and opinion piece.

A new LFC report trashes New Mexico’s film subsidy program.

Over the next month Mayor Keller will be attempting to push a lease for the United Stadium through City Council. There are real issues with the proposal as it stands now.