New Mexico State Officials Tout Industry Contributions at NMOGA Annual Meeting
New Mexico state officials are proud of their state’s oil and gas industry—and the benefits that brings to education and infrastructure. This was a recurring theme at the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA)’s annual meeting in Santa Fe, where state officials praised the industry’s growth and contributions.
“I could spend well longer than 30 minutes telling you about the benefits of what’s going on in the state of New Mexico because of what’s going on in the oil and gas industry — opportunities that we haven’t seen, ever,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). These include $1 billion in funds for infrastructure investment and support for teacher education.
New Mexico is currently the third-most oil producing state, though Lujan Grisham told the conference she hopes the state will overtake North Dakota to assume the number two spot. Thanking the men and women working in the industry for their commitment to the future of the state, she stressed that positive changes in education, infrastructure, and healthcare were still to come.
For Lujan Grisham, partnership with the industry is what allows her administration these opportunities.
“Without the oil and gas industry, without the energy effort in this state, no one gets to make education the top priority,” said Lujan Grisham who introduced a proposal to extend public schooling to include pre-K and college.
The way that she and other state officials see it, investing in education and infrastructure is an investment in both the future of New Mexico and the future of New Mexico’s oil and gas industry.
Much of this is because of the taxes and fees the industry pays. These monies go into several permeant funds run by the state, which uses them to stabilize its budget and to fund universities, hospitals, and infrastructure. Steve Moise, the state investment officer, explained how the industry contributes to the health of the funds he manages.
“This year, FY2020, for the first time in history, the permanent funds will deliver more than a billion to the state and their beneficiaries,” said Moise. “We New Mexicans will be eternally grateful to this industry.”
In total, these assets add up to more than $26.8 billion. Because of these funds, New Mexico residents see an average annual tax savings of $1250 per household.
Partnership with the industry is about more than just taxes paid, however. Lujan Grisham stressed that as the state looks to pass regulations to better control methane emissions, she wants industry at the table.
“Why would I do that (go it alone) when some of the best science not just in the state but in the globe is represented right here in this room, particularly when the folks in this room offered to give it and share it with us,” she said, reference industry technology to help monitor and contain emissions.
For a Democrat governor, working with the oil and gas industry to draft regulations might not be the easiest choice. Even so, it’s one that Lujan Grisham is committed to.
“Government likes easy…but I know that one size fits all means that the same issue divides us. This group gets a regulation that works, the rest of you, so sorry,” she said. “That’s not a way to do effective policy.”