Mineral-rich New Mexico should look more prosperous

Published 6:34 pm Friday, December 5, 2008

By Staff
It is 11 p.m. Clinging to the remote, you flip through the channels looking for something to cheer you up before you go to sleep. You stop at one of the late night shows and happen to catch this opening monologue:
President-elect Obama just announced Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico as the new Commerce Secretary.
And who says keeping your state 43rd in the nation in per-capita-personal-income won't take you places?
New Mexico is rich in natural resources, yet it remains one of America's poorest states.
That's like watching someone starve themselves to death on a cruise.
I don't get it. While the rest of the country is turning over every stone looking for some financial benefit, in New Mexico, where there are vast energy resources under the rocks, government officials aren't turning them over.
They're sitting on them.
New Mexico contains one of America's largest known reserves of uranium – a mineral nearly as valuable as gold.
But officials pretend it's not there.
That makes as much sense as California walling off all its beaches.
Hispanic citizens, who own all of the land within the Juan Tafoya Land Grant – an area rich in uranium – have signed mineral leases to develop their resources.
But New Mexico's government policies 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.
These landowners 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 listening to out-of-state environmentalists to set state policy.
But I still say, a "Hug a Cactus" campaign is going to have a hard time catching on.
Despite its bottom of the barrel status, New Mexico has enjoyed a budget surplus due to limited digging under the rocks and finding riches. So why aren't they digging more?
The answer is simple -snakes. And I'm not talking about the fork-tongued kind.
Or on second thought, maybe I am.
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 is hard to do business.
As a result, while surrounding states have increased their oil and gas production, new wells in the San Juan Basin are down 60 percent.
Apparently, their motto is, "Drill anywhere but here, drill one of these days."
The San Juan Basin produces vast quantities of natural gas – not only fueling America, but filling government pockets with royalties and taxes.
Yet, New Mexico is now facing a $500 million deficit.
If you ask me, gas isn't the only thing that's smelling like rotten eggs in New Mexico.
Around Farmington, there are a plethora of sand-colored pump jacks dotting the landscape.
Yet, the American Lung Association placed them in the top five in the list of "Cleanest Cities for Year-Round Particle Pollution."
The only thing that's making New Mexicans gasp for air is frustration with all the government regulations.
Obviously, their balloon festival isn't the only hot air with which New Mexicans have to deal.
Increasing regulations being leveled on oil and gas producers in New Mexico are driving them out of the state.
Maybe it's time for Donald Trump to step in and say, "You're fired!
Speaking of regulations, this summer, when the entire country was suffering over record-high gas prices and the cry to "drill here, drill now" was heard from coast-to-coast, state leaders enacted drilling moratoriums and even shut down a producing oil well because it was unsightly.
Guess they think houses and businesses in foreclosure look better.
With the revenue that New Mexico could get from all of its natural resources, the state should look like Park Avenue, only with tumbleweeds.
Knowing he was going places, the governor even bought himself his own jet. Why can't he fly commercial? Who does he think he is? CEO of one of the Big Three?
Richardson's appointees have invented delay upon delay for companies which want to invest in New Mexico
So, New Mexico, in the words of Dr. Phil, how's that working out for you? And now Gov. Richardson is going to be Commerce Secretary.
I guess if America's headed to the poor house, they want someone in charge who knows the way. More depressed than you were, you click off the TV, realizing that the rest of the country is poised to replicate New Mexico's financial demise.