Errors of Enchantment

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New Mexico benefits from mind-blowing oil boom, but obsesses over theoretical declines


This week it was reported that New Mexico will indeed have a surplus (thanks largely to its booming oil and gas industry) of approximately $3.5 billion. The state is expected to generate a total of “$13 billion — exceeding annual spending obligations by one-third.”

As usual, the discussion that SHOULD be happening in Santa is over how to leverage this utterly unique opportunity for one of the “poorest” states in the nation to better diversify its economy and boost overall growth, but that seems to be a lost cause with Gov. MLG at the helm.

Instead we get statements like “By the end of the decade, oil income is likely to begin a long, steady decline, becoming a drag on revenue growth as global demand wanes.” Will oil and gas demand drop?

MLG and most other Democrats seem hell-bent on killing oil and gas, but despite more than a trillion dollars spent on “renewables” just since the Pandemic, demand for traditional energy sources continues to grow.

The International Energy Agency just raised its demand estimates for oil next year.

Comment NOW on Proposed Public Education Department Rules Changes


In what seems to be yet another power grab by the Lujan Grisham Administration (this time through the Public Education Department), regulations have been quietly put forth (with a public hearing scheduled for Monday, December 18 and a written comment deadline of 5pm that day).

RGF has two major concerns with the proposal that we addressed in our comments below: 1) a requirement of 180 days of school (as opposed to setting the number of hours in the classroom as is done now). This appears to be a direct attack on rural districts with four day school weeks.

The other is a seizure of power by the PED over accreditation of non-public schools in New Mexico. Information on the public hearing can be found at the link above (as well as the regulations themselves). You can submit comments by Monday at 5pm here:

Our comments are below (please note the relevant code in your comments as per PED’s instructions).

I write today on behalf of the Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s free market think tank, to express opposition to proposed rule changes being considered by the Public Education Department in two major areas: 6.10.5 NMAC, School Calendar Requirements and 6.81.2 NMAC, Requirements for Nonpublic Schools and for Public Education Department Accreditation.

On the issues of School calendar requirements, PED has proposed a requirement of 180 days of school. Simply put, there is no research supporting the idea that increasing the number of school days improves student outcomes. According to a 2018 report both Missouri and Kansas have had 4-day work weeks in place for dozens of rural communities.

A move (to four-day weeks) that originally began as a cost-saving measure has resulted in students having have 25 more instructional hours than before, and that’s brought a couple added bonuses.

“Our ACT scores have really shown some improvement. If there was anything, that’s one area we’re up. The first four years, up every year, and five out of the last seven, they’ve been increased,” said Lathrop School District superintendent Chris Fine.

Attendance has also improved for students and staff. According to one parent, “Mondays, we get all our doctor appointments in, orthodontist, so we don’t have to miss school ever. That’s my favorite thing.”

I shouldn’t have to remind you that New Mexico struggles badly with student absenteeism. The four-day week may not work for all districts, but it may work for some. There is no reason to eliminate it.

Secondly, I write in opposition to changes proposed for 6.81.2 NMAC, Requirements for Nonpublic Schools and for Public Education Department Accreditation

Requirements for Nonpublic Schools and for Public Education Department Accreditation. I am concerned about the dramatic changes to accreditation, annual reporting to PED, and to PED assuming authority to “observe the operations” of non-public schools. Considering the impact of these potential changes it is hard to understand why neither non-public schools, nor their accrediting bodies were notified about these changes. This alone raises serious questions about the fairness and transparency of the process.

Per (D) NMAC, the only authority given to PED regarding nonpublic schools reads; “The Public Education Department maintains a list of all nonpublic schools in the state and the list must include the school’s name, mailing and email addresses, name of the Head Administrator, phone number, and accrediting entity.  Nonpublic schools accredited by educational accrediting agencies identified in rule, or since approved by the Division, shall be deemed to be acknowledged by the Department unless the accrediting entity’s accreditation status is suspended, limited, or terminated by the Department or unless the schools’ accreditation status is suspended, limited, or terminated by its own accrediting entity.

Currently, nonpublic schools are not regulated by the PED, which makes it unfair to impose rules and regulations through a rule making process that has not been well-publicized and was not done at the behest of the Legislature itself. In attempting to acquire authority to “observe the operations of non-public schools,” PED is overstepping its boundaries without any statutory oversight.

If PED were to allow tax dollars to follow students to the school of their choice, PED’s case for this significant increase in its own power would be more justifiable.

Paul Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation

Dr. James Dobson Sounds the Alarm Over Two Democrat-led Bills That Could  End Our 'Sweet Land of Liberty'

Episode 565: Government’s Quiet Land Grab with Gabriella Hoffman


On this week’s interview Paul sat down with Gabriella Hoffman. She recently spoke at an RGF luncheon on “Government’s Quiet Land Grab.” You can view her slides here. 

Gabriella is director of the Center for Energy and Conservation at Independent Women’s Forum. She is a freelance media strategist, award-winning writer, and political columnist. She hosts the District of Conservation podcast and CFACT original video series “Conservation Nation.”

Among other topics in our conversation is the recently-announced planned 245,000 acre monument in southern New Mexico which would put a large tract of land off limits to most uses.

 Learn more about her work at

We’re opposing MLG’s NEXT EV mandate: here’s how you can help!


Gov. Lujan Grisham is pushing yet another mandate designed to foist electric vehicles on an unwilling population. This time she’s mandating that parking spaces be outfitted with expensive chargers or be outfitted with the electrical connections to enable the addition of those chargers. 

We’ve rebooted our campaign and are focused on this latest EV mandate. Act now because the deadline for this latest mandate is January 2nd.

We have pre-written responses on our website, but here is RGF president Paul Gessing’s letter to the Construction Industries Division on the topic (feel free to use all or part of this). You can send messages directly to

I write in opposition to the plan to mandate EV charging stations or “EV capable” charging stations in various types of commercial construction. At a price tag of $18,000 per charging unit and nearly $2,000 per “EV capable” parking space, this regulation will inevitably lead to increased costs for all kinds of commercial development. The decision of whether to include EV charging stations in developments should be one made by developers themselves and based on market conditions such as the demand for such units among their potential customers.
I’m particularly concerned about driving costs up for apartment buildings. Apartments are typically resided in by those with lower than average incomes. Conditions are particularly problematic right now thanks to an extremely tight housing market which is present in Albuquerque and other New Mexico cities.
I urge the CID to oppose this harmful regulation.


Tipping Point NM episode 564: Albuquerque Air Board Goes Rogue, New Mexico Land Grab, PED asks for $5.1B, More EV Mandates, Trever Cartoon


Albuquerque air board and the crisis of democracy.

Another land grab under way in Southern New Mexico. 

NM PED is requesting a mind-blowing $5.1 billion next year. How has education spending grown and what is happening with results?

MLG’s next attempt to force EV’s on you (and how you can push back) using our site. 

Trever’s ABQ Journal cartoon is a masterpiece. 

New Mexico’s anti-poverty programs ineffective despite spending more than $10 billion


The Legislative Finance Committee (the Legislature’s own internal “think tank”) has been saying a lot of things that we at the Rio Grande Foundation have been saying for years, but the latest report is especially noteworthy.

The gist of the findings as outlined by KRQE Channel 13 here are that “Large investments in income support, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aren’t decreasing poverty in New Mexico.” Furthermore, “LFC says the current structure of the state’s benefits could be disincentivizing some from working full time or from trying to get higher paying jobs.”

Here are just a few of the many fantastic charts in the LFC paper:

  1. Labor participation rates correlate with poverty rates. If New Mexico (as we and the LFC have both argued) want to reduce poverty, it has to be through work, not welfare programs.

2) New Mexico’s welfare programs are extremely generous (2nd most in the nation). It won’t be easy politically and certainly not with New Mexico’s current political makeup, but it is high time to reduce the generosity of our State’s welfare programs AND use them to encourage work.

KOAT Channel 7 covers MLG EV charging station mandate (which will cost YOU money)


The Rio Grande Foundation is a staunch opponent of government mandating ANY type of vehicle and we fought hard against MLG’s costly and unworkable EV mandate. Sadly, the Gov. is at it again. Now she plans to mandate that parking spots in new commercial developments and apartment complexes be outfitted with EV charging stations costing $18,000 or more OR made “EV Ready” which means nearly $2,000 per spot to provide the infrastructure necessary to add a charging station later.

RGF’s president recently sat. down with KOAT Channel 7. to discuss the issue. 

You can provide public comment to the Construction Industries Division through our website.

Austin, TX Proterra Bus failure (same company is contracted to provide electric buses to Albuquerque)


A few months ago we reported in this space about problems the bankrupt  Proterra electric bus company is having in providing parts to a bus service in Wyoming. We noted that Albuquerque is contracted to receive electric buses from the same company.

Now, we have this story which finds that Austin, TX is having similar issues

Here are a few items from the story, “The transit agency’s battery-powered buses have been less reliable and harder to fix.” Furthermore,

Capital Metro suggests in its filing that Proterra’s sale of its transit business may be attempting to cut off potential warranty claims for buses, batteries, chargers and other items. Those warranties have been crucial for fixing the vehicles.

“The reliability of electric buses no matter the manufacturer is less than a diesel bus. I’m not going to tell you they operate as well as diesel bus,” Capital Metro Chief Operating Officer Andrew Skabowski told KUT. “We’re going to see some vehicles that are down a little bit longer than a diesel bus.”

“On average, half of the first lot of Proterra buses and about one-third of the second lot are out of service at any given time,” Broward County, FL (another Proterra customer) Attorney Andrew J. Meyers wrote in a filing.

Even if Austin’s Capital Metro could get out of its contract to buy the 40 Proterra buses, it would still leave the transit agency in a difficult position because of the parts, software and other support needed to keep the buses operating.

“They provide excellent service,” Skabowski said of Proterra. But he said the problems with electric buses might force the agency to keep diesel vehicles around longer.

Is the City of Albuquerque continuing to buy buses from Proterra? If so, why?

A blue Proterra ZX5 bus. The bus is seen driving down the road wrapped in a sign that says, "Battery electric." A city skyline is in the background.

Questions Arise Over Legality and Transparency at Local Air Board Meeting


The following was shared with us by  Nicholas R. Maxwell who has been closely following the seemingly unlawful actions of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board which was disbanded in its current form by a veto-override of City Council. 

The special meeting of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board held today has raised significant legal and transparency concerns. The meeting, which was briefly opened to the public for around three minutes before moving to an executive session, currently ongoing, was attended by only five of its seven members, with Members Lewis and Galewsky absent. The public opening of the meeting is accessible at

This meeting comes amid the implementation of a new ordinance that has reorganized the City’s appointments to the Board. With the ordinance now in effect, there are serious questions regarding the legality of the Board’s quorum and the validity of its proceedings.

Mr. Nicholas R. Maxwell, a citizen advocate for open government, has been outspoken about the Board’s actions. “Transparency isn’t just a word to throw around in meetings; it’s a commitment to the community we serve. When boards operate in shadows, democracy suffers,” Maxwell stated, emphasizing the potential violations of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) of New Mexico. His concerns center around late amendments to the agenda and insufficient public notice for the continuation of the HEEI hearing. Specific to the special meeting, the post-deadline inclusion of the agenda item ‘Request to ratify the Chair’s decision to authorize the Board Attorney to pursue litigation’ has drawn significant scrutiny.

The following video highlights the Board’s activity.

Another land grab underway in Southern New Mexico


Suddenly, with a slick website ready to go, a group led by Democrat Congressman Gabe Vasquez and left-wing State Senator Carrie Hamblen announced plans this week to create a 245,000-acre national monument. The proposed monument would encompass the Florida Mountains near Deming, Cooke’s Range and Good Sight Mountains to the city’s north and the peaks known as the Tres Hermanas (Three Sisters) near the village of Columbus.

Monuments are a highly restrictive land designations. Sadly, they have been embraced by presidents who can and have declared them without congressional approval. President Obama did this with the Organ Peaks Monument in 2014. 

We know that Biden’s Administration has been well to the left of even Obama’s. Will he act in the last year or so of his term (unless re-elected?). It would be in character, but presidents often declare their biggest land grabs on their way out the door. Only time will tell. In the meantime it is incumbent on concerned New Mexicans to push back.

To that end, the Rio Grande Foundation is hosting a luncheon with nationally recognized land and environment expert Gabriela Hoffman.

Albuquerque’s crisis of democracy


When the Rio Grande Foundation spoke out against the actions of the Environmental Improvement Board recently, we were always careful to express our opposition to the process itself. Unelected boards should simply not be in the business of making major policy decisions in a democratic republic system of government.

Fast forward to this week when City Council in Albuquerque over-road Mayor Keller’s veto of what we believe were some necessary reforms to that Board put forth by Councilor Dan Lewis.

Now, as the Albuquerque Journal editorialized this morning (Thursday), the Board has refused to obey Council and has exhibited “appalling insubordination.” Sadly, Mayor Keller not only directly rebuffed the Journal’s call for him to exert leadership in this situation has instead made the following tweet which is both breathtaking in its lack of judgement and shocking in its ignorance about they WAY city government works.  It might be time to dust off that “weak mayor” concept once again at least if Keller has designs on a third term.

Tipping Point NM episode 563: Jon Decker of Viante Foundation talking transparency in NM’s AG’s office


On this week’s interview Paul talks to Jon Decker of Viante Foundation. Jon is President of the organization and local entrepreneur Dale Armstrong is the Founder. Viante was founded in 2017 to promote better schools, safer neighborhoods, and more economic opportunity in the state of New Mexico.

Paul and Jon discuss Viante itself and its goals as well as former Attorney General Hector Balderas’ efforts to hide certain contracts with third party attorneys from the public and issues related to transparency and the previous/current AG.

New Mexico education spending growing (again), but for little benefit


The Albuquerque Journal just reported that the Public Education Department is set to request $5.1 billion in the upcoming session. Since FY 2020 PED’s budget has already risen by 30% to educate fewer students.

If the Department’s request is approved this session that will be a mind-blowing 58% increase over 5 years. In the meantime, the LFC (the Legislature’s own internal think tank) itself has acknowledged that more spending at PED has not resulted in better outcomes.

America's public schools are losing students

School closures public and private and New Mexico’s aging population


The closure of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Albuquerque is nothing short of a tragedy. Both the reasons for the closure AND the closure itself SHOULD have all New Mexicans concerned about our State.

For starters, it is by no means the only New Mexico school seeing an enrollment decline. The precipitous drop in enrollment at Albuquerque Public Schools is well-documented.  And, while recent reports note the rising popularity of home schooling nationally, New Mexico was hardly a leader in that area.

The truth is that while birth rates have plummeted nationwide, New Mexico is ALSO seeing an exodus of young people and families.

Of course, closure of a Catholic school is ALSO a tragedy because Catholic schools are potentially a solution for what ails New Mexico’s education system which is ranked dead last in study after study on the topic. On the other hand, if Catholic schools were a state, they would be the highest performing state in the country. 

Sadly, year after year school choice proposals are brought before our Legislature that would make Catholic schools a more realistic option for thousands of New Mexico families, yet nothing is done.

Finally, while no one would confuse the Catholic schools with a for-profit enterprise, the fact that unlike APS which continues to lose students but refuses to close schools, the Catholic Schools operate under actual budgetary constraints. They can’t rely on more money from Santa Fe every year.

The Nation's Report Card Shows Catholic Schools Excelling Post-Pandemic

New Mexico population growth falls well below region, nation | Las Cruces  Bulletin

Exempting Social Security Income from Taxation: Not Targeted, Not  Necessary, Not Cheap – New Mexico Voices for Children

A Smaller, Wealthier Mexico Is on the Horizon

Tipping Point NM episode 562: MLG in Dubai for Climate, Rooftop Solar, Freedom in NM report, FL vs. CA, & more


MLG flew to Dubai recently for the latest UN climate conference. 

Paul recently appeared on Mark/Krysty Ronchetti’s “No Doubt About it”podcast. He discussed NM’s new EV mandate;

More than 3,800 car dealerships to Biden: tap brakes on EV mandates. You can read their letter here and an article about it here. 

PNM says 23% of customers will have rooftop solar by 2040. On one hand this is more realistic than MLG’s vehicle mandate, on the other it is driven by huge subsidies.

RGF is holding its final luncheon of 2023 with Gabriella Hoffman discussing the government’s quiet land grab.

New Mexico fails in economic freedom, performs well in personal freedom in Cato report.

There was a debate recently between CA Gov. Newsom and FL Gov. DeSantis. When it comes to their economies, there is no comparison (but MLG is following the California model).

The ABQ Journal recently had two stories that highlight trades vs. academia that highlight interesting issues.

 On one hand this is sad for our community (and highlights serious demographic issues), but on the other it highlights the gulf between public and private schools.

Funnily enough, if you watch the video on Youtube, the folks over there feel the need to provide a bit of extra information on the topic. That’s why we are proud to be a part of the Free Speech Alliance which is working to protect free speech online.

RGF takes on EV mandates on “The Overton Window” podcast


The concept of the Overton Window has taken off in recent years. According to Wikipedia: The Overton window is an approach to identifying the ideas that define the spectrum of acceptability of governmental policies. It says politicians can act only within the acceptable range. Shifting the Overton window involves proponents of policies outside the window persuading the public to expand the window.

Sadly, New Mexico Gov. MLG was able to “shift” the Overton Window by simply ignoring the Legislature and passing her policy through an unelected board.

RGF’s president recently sat down with James Hohman of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center (where the Overton Window originated) to discuss the RGF’s work against MLG’s EV mandates. You can listen to the show here.

Explainer: What Is The Overton Window? - Texans For Fiscal Responsibility

MLG’s next attempt to force EV’s (or at least the costs of them) on you


Fresh off her “victory” in pushing EV’s on New Mexicans through an unelected board, New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham is pushing yet another regulation to push EV’s on an unwilling public. Next up is her push to force EV charging stations and equipment on those who build apartment buildings and other  commercial real estate.

The “good” news is that while news reports initially reported a 20% mandate, the “final” proposal limits ACTUAL EV spaces required to 5% with up to another 15% being so-called “EV capable.” You can read the following regulation here. 

An EV charging station can range from $1,200 to $6,000 for a level two charger and a level three station can cost $30,000 to $80,000 or more.

The estimated cost for EV charging infrastructure, including the raceway, panel capacity, and dedicated circuit, is $1,650 per parking space for new commercial buildings. (that is a vast increase in the cost per parking space just to make them “EV capable”).

An in-person hearing shall be held on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at the Regulation and Licensing Department located at 5500 San Antonio Drive NE, Albuquerque, NM, Sandia Conference room, starting at 9:30 a.m.

You may send written comments to: Construction Industries Division, – Regulation and Licensing Department, 5500 San Antonio Drive NE, Suite F, Albuquerque, NM 87109, Attention: Public Comments. Written comments
may also be faxed to (505) 765-5670 or submitted to Quindi Otero-Robertson at her email address: All written comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., on Tuesday, January 2, 2024.

EV Readiness - Why We Need It Now - SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean  EnergySACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

RGF president weighs in to support override of Mayor’s veto on ABQ Air Board


Update, last night City Council DID override Keller’s veto of needed reforms to the local “clean air board.”

At tonight’s City of Albuquerque Council meeting a vote will be held on whether to override Mayor Keller’s veto of needed reforms put forth by Councilor Dan Lewis of the local Air Quality Board. RGF president Paul Gessing sent the following note to the Council (use the link, it took 5 minutes).

Lewis’s efforts gained a majority of City Council’s support, but was vetoed by the Mayor which requires 6 votes to override. Gessing’s note to Council is below. You can read about Lewis’s effort here. 

I urge you to override Mayor Keller’s vetoes of: R-23-176 and O-23-88. It is time for the Air Board to be accountable and experts in their field. Their actions should also be transparent to public scrutiny.

Allowing appointed boards to make important and controversial policy decisions about key environmental and economic policy issues is not “democratic.” It is also not sound government. I urge you to override Keller’s veto.

Dozens weigh in on air quality board changes during city council meeting -

PNM “23% of customers will have rooftop solar by 2040” of course via massive subsidies


New Mexico’s largest utility, PNM, recently announced that it expects 25% of its customers to have rooftop solar by 2040.  That may be the case and we’ll all find out together in 16 years. It is interesting to note as the article does that about 8% of the utility’s customers currently have solar panels.

So, in 16 years PNM plans to go from 8% to 23% of homes having solar panels. That seems reasonable at least when compared with Gov. Lujan Grisham’s plan to force New Mexicans to go from 3% of new vehicles being EV’s to 43% in less than three years!

Of course, PNM’s plans (which are ultimately driven by the Energy Transition Act and Biden policies) rely heavily on subsidies. Here’s what those installing solar panels receive thanks to federal and state taxpayers:

  1. 30% federal tax credit meaning that federal taxpayers pick up 30% of the cost of the panels;
  2.  10% New Mexico credit (which works the same way except for New Mexicans only) up to $6,000;
  3. No gross receipts tax is charged on solar panels or their installation;
  4. The value of the solar panels is not added to the home’s value.

These are just a few of the biggest solar subsidies. 40% of your system cost being paid by the taxpayers and no taxes. What a country!

NM Solar Group closes, laying off entire workforce and leaving some buyers  hanging | Business |

Tipping Point NM episode 561: Latest from Virgin Galactic and Spaceport New Mexico with Doug Messier


On this week’s interview Paul talks to Doug Messier, an expert on the private space industry. You can find his Substack here. We discuss the latest announcements from Virgin Galactic regarding their business model, layoffs, and flight cessation in 2024. If you care about Spaceport America and the investments New Mexicans continue to make in the facility you don’t want to miss this conversation!

Luncheon: Government’s Quiet Land Grab December 12, 2023


Join the Rio Grande Foundation for Government’s Quiet Land Grab, a luncheon featuring Gabriella Hoffman.

December 12, 2023
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
2401 12th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104

About Gabriella Hoffman
Gabriella Hoffman is the director of the Center for Energy and Conservation at Independent Women’s Forum. She is a freelance media strategist, award-winning writer, and political columnist. She hosts the District of Conservation podcast and CFACT original video series “Conservation Nation.”

Gabriella has published columns and articles in Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Hill, RealClearPolicy, Virginian Pilot, Washington Examiner, Deseret News,, Washington Times, Field & Stream, Sporting Classics, Outdoor Life, The Virginia Sportsman, and more. Additionally, she’s been quoted/featured in notable publications including Washington Post, Fox News, NPR, Marie Claire, and Time Magazine’s Guns in America fall 2018 issue.

Tickets are limited:
Price before December 5, 2023: $35
Price on and after December 11, 2023: $40
Price December 12 and at the door if available: $45


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Cancellation policy: The Rio Grande Foundation will honor cancellation requests until December 1, 2023 at 12:00PM MT, 2023, minus a 15% transaction fee.

Talking EV mandates and more with Mark and Krysty Ronchetti


Paul had a chance recently to sit down with Mark and Krysty Ronchetti on the latest edition of the “No Doubt About It” podcast. We mostly discussed the Gov.’s recently-adoptetd EV mandate but also looked ahead to the upcoming legislative session and some other critical issues facing New Mexicans.

Check out the conversation below:

Florida vs California: there’s no comparison


Tonight as I write this Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom are going to debate.  It would seem that there is little to discuss (at least economically) as Florida crushes California (see chart below).

How does New Mexico play into this? We know that Gov. Lujan Grisham considers California and Gavin Newsom here model. Her EV regulations which put New Mexico in lockstep with California are just one of several examples of her California-centric approach.

Needless to say, we believe that New Mexico would thrive if just a few of Florida’s policies (including education reform which is not addressed below) were introduced here. Sadly, politicians and powerful special interest groups prefer the California model because they can gain politically and financially from centralized power.

If New Mexicans want better outcomes in their state they need to embrace politicians that embrace the Florida model.

The following charts are from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.