Choose Garcia Richards for State Land Commissioner
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.