- Marita K. Noon
It’s eleven pm. You’re punching your remote, flipping through channels, looking for something to cheer you up before hitting the hay. You stop for a Comedy Centralized Power skit. As the “newscaster” drones on and slips in his snide comments, you chuckle at the political satire – and cringe at the political reality behind it.
President-elect Obama has announced that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will be the new Commerce Secretary. Who says making your state forty-third in the nation in per-capita personal income won’t get you places?
Despite being rich in natural resources, the “Land of Enchantment” remains one of America’s poorest states. That’s like watching someone starve themselves to death on a cruise.
I don’t get it. Most states and countries are turning over every stone, looking for energy and financial nuggets. In Grants, New Mexico – which looks like a third-world country to Californians passing through on I-40 – there are vast energy resources right under the rocks. But government officials aren’t turning them over. They’re sitting on them.
New Mexico contains one of America’s largest known reserves of uranium. It’s nearly as valuable as gold. But officials pretend it’s not there. That makes as much sense as California walling off Hollywood and its beaches.
Hispanic citizens own all the land within the huge Juan Tafoya Land Grant. It’s rich in uranium – and they’ve signed leases to develop the minerals. But Bill Richardson & Co. are keeping them in poverty, despite the fact that the lands have been in their family for hundreds of years, long before New Mexico was even a state. The landowners and mining companies have to jump through more hoops than Shamu.
Instead of acknowledging a very positive study on the economic impact of uranium mining, government bureaucrats are letting out-of-state environmentalists set state policy. I don’t think their “Hug a Cactus” campaign is going to catch on with the locals.
Despite its bottom-of-the-barrel status, New Mexico long enjoyed a budget surplus, due to limited digging for riches under rocks. So why aren’t they digging more? The answer is simple – snakes … the fork-tongued kind that crawl around our halls of government.
New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Division, under the direction of a Richardson appointee, has added excessive regulations to the drilling process, and earned New Mexico the reputation of being a place where it’s hard to do business. As a result, while surrounding states have increased oil and gas production, new wells (and revenues) in the San Juan Basin are down 60 percent. Their motto must be, “Drill someplace else. Drill after we’ve sent the state into a Depression.”
The world’s largest well servicing company commented: Key Energy Services has a long established presence in New Mexico. But because of new drilling fluid rules, permitting restrictions and drilling moratoriums, Key was forced to close its Farmington pressure pumping yard and relocate the equipment to Midland, Texas where there’s enough work to keep people and equipment gainfully employed.
The result? Dozens, maybe hundreds of New Mexico jobs, poof – vanished.
The San Juan Basin produces vast quantities of natural gas – fueling America, which wants everyone to use more “clean natural gas,” and filling Government coffers with royalties and taxes. New Mexico used to enjoy budget surpluses, thanks to resource production. But now the state faces a half-billion-dollar deficit, compounded by falling oil and gas prices. State revenues are plummeting. If you ask me, sour gas isn’t the only thing that smells like rotten eggs in New Mexico.
Around Farmington, sand-colored pump jacks dot the landscape. But it’s still one of the five “Cleanest Cities” in America for year-round particle pollution, says the American Lung Association. The only thing making New Mexicans gasp is frustration with tons of government red tape.
Increasing regulations are driving New Mexico oil and gas producers out of the state. Maybe Donald Trump needs to tell the state’s politicians and bureaucrats, “You’re fired!”
Last summer, while the entire country was suffering from record-high gas prices, and the cry “Drill here! Drill now!” was heard coast-to-coast, Governor Richardson and his sycophants imposed drilling moratoriums – and even shut down a producing oil well, because it was “unsightly.” They must think bread lines, closed businesses and abandoned houses are more attractive.
With the revenues that New Mexico could get from its natural resources, the state should look like Park Avenue – with tumbleweeds. Instead, it looks like Depression-era Oklahoma.
Knowing he was going places, Governor Richardson decided he couldn’t fly commercial any more. He bought himself a private jet. Who does he think he is? Al Gore – or the CEO of some Big Three auto maker?
Richardson’s appointees have invented delay upon delay for companies who want to invest in New Mexico. So, New Mexico, how’re you enjoying the expanding recession?
And now Governor Richardson is going to be Commerce Secretary. I guess if America’s headed to the poor house, we should have someone in charge who knows how to get there.
More depressed than you were, you click off the TV – realizing the rest of the country may be poised to replicate New Mexico’s financial demise.
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