Choose Garcia Richards for State Land Com­mis­sioner

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA -

The New Mex­ico Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Lands man­ages an as­tound­ing 9 mil­lion acres of pub­lic state trust lands through­out the state. These are the lands were we love to hunt, fish and recre­ate. The State Land Of­fice also man­ages an ad­di­tional

13 mil­lion acres of sub­sur­face min­er­als that are worth bil­lions of dol­lars.

These are your nat­u­ral re­sources. These are the nat­u­ral re­sources of our chil­dren’s chil­dren.

The money the State Land Of­fice gen­er­ates from the man­age­ment of these re­sources is the pri­mary fund­ing source for our pub­lic schools and other crit­i­cal pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions. Through oil & gas pro­duc­tion, com­mer­cial leases and graz­ing, the agency gen­er­ates be­tween $600 mil­lion and

$800 mil­lion per year, which is a stag­ger­ing one-third of our state’s an­nual bud­get.

But the land of­fice is at a crit­i­cal cross­road. It is stuck in the 19th cen­tury.

At state­hood, the only rev­enue gen­er­at­ing in­dus­tries were min­eral ex­trac­tion (pri­mar­ily oil & gas), logging and graz­ing. And of the three, oil and gas was, and is, the pri­mary rev­enue driver. This is all well and good when the oil and gas in­dus­try is boom­ing as it is now, but what in­evitably fol­lows the boom is a state-crush­ing bust.

When you head to the bal­lot box in the com­ing weeks, you have two choices: Pat Lyons and Stephanie Garcia Richards.

A two-term past com­mis­sioner with a litany of ques­tion­able in­dis­cre­tions, Lyons is the oil and gas in­dus­try’s “busi­ness as usual rub­ber stamp man.” Back in 2010 he qui­etly tried to trade away our pre­cious White Peak (or White’s peak as we of­ten call it) to a wealthy pri­vate landowner for some bar­ren prairie land next to the high­way.

Lyons ne­go­ti­ated a shady deal with land de­vel­oper Philip Philipou in Las Cruces and sent his gen­eral coun­sel to deal with a speed­ing ticket he re­ceived in south­ern New Mex­ico us­ing tax­payer dol­lars. The list goes on and on. Is this some­one we can trust to stew­ard 9 mil­lion acres of land and 13 mil­lion acres of min­er­als?

The global cor­po­rate go­liath, Chevron Corp. sure thinks so. In 2017 Chevron in­vested a whop­ping $4 bil­lion to ramp up pro­duc­tion in the Per­mian Basin in New Mex­ico and Texas. Since July, Chevron has also pumped a stag­ger­ing $2.35 mil­lion ($1.3 mil­lion in TV ads alone) into the cor­po­rate po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee New Mex­ico Strong. You can hardly turn on the tele­vi­sion with­out see­ing a New Mex­ico Strong ad smear­ing Garcia Richards. Why?

Garcia Richards’ plat­form is about cre­at­ing a new stan­dard of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity for the State Land Of­fice. Garcia Richards has also been very vo­cal about man­dat­ing meth­ane cap­ture in New Mex­ico, which has the po­ten­tial to curb our state’s em­bar­rass­ing an­nual emis­sion of 570,000 met­ric tons of green­house gas into the at­mos­phere and gen­er­ate an es­ti­mated $27 mil­lion in lost rev­enue for the state.

Garcia Richards ad­vo­cates for in­creas­ing rental and roy­alty rates on oil and gas rev­enue to match na­tional fair mar­ket rates. That would mean that New Mex­ico would have re­ceived an ad­di­tional $40 mil­lion in rev­enue!

Re­mem­ber that the land of­fice gen­er­ates ap­prox­i­mately a full third of the state’s an­nual eco­nomic rev­enue. Un­til the State Land Of­fice evolves and di­ver­si­fies, our re­mark­able state will re­main last on the good lists and first on the bad lists.

We have the ut­most re­spect for Garcia Richards knowl­edge, tenac­ity and pas­sion for chang­ing our amaz­ing state. We can hon­estly say that Garcia Richards is a bright, fear­less vi­sion­ary can­di­date who should be the face of a thriv­ing and vi­brant fu­ture New Mex­ico. Pat Lyons is the poster child for an old, out of touch and ob­so­lete state who sim­ply has no sus­tain­able fu­ture.

That’s why we al­ready voted for Gar­ica Richards. We hope you will too on or be­fore Nov. 6. Join us at 5:30 pm on Thurs­day, Nov. 1 at Lam­bert’s Tree House to meet Garcia Richards and to sup­port her cam­paign. We can as­sure you, you’ll be as im­pressed as we are.

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