Republican Congresswoman Yvette Herrell of New Mexico’s Second Congressional District sent a letter on March 30 to New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard regarding concerns of oil producers in the district who are concerned over the Joe Biden regime’s new oil and gas leasing ban, which will negatively affect New Mexico.
“As you know, one of the first actions of the Biden administration was to implement a ban on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. On its own, this will have an extremely detrimental impact on our state’s economy and general fund, but I fear these implications will be exacerbated by additional impacts on leases on lands under the management of your department,” wrote Congresswoman Herrell.
“I have had several constituents reach out to me concerned that access to their state leases, day to day operations on and the development of those leases will become increasingly difficult if the leasing moratorium on federal lands continues,” she continued.
“I would also call on you to join me and use all the power at your disposal as State Land Commissioner to oppose the federal leasing ban imposed by the Biden administration. Oil and gas production employs over 100,000 people in our state and contributes revenues that make up nearly forty percent of our general fund. 94% of the earnings from the state trust lands, under your management, goes directly to support education. An attack on the oil and gas industry is an attack on the future economic sustainability of our state and the future of our children,” concluded Herrell.
Even Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham previously said she was concerned over the extreme ban by Biden on all federal oil leases, saying to the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce last month, “I’m clearly concerned that right out of the gate with very little guidance, we have an announcement to stall … a moratorium on lease applications, and the reality is: a lot of oil and gas … in the Permian [Basin] is on private land in Texas.”
But Garcia Richard said in an April 12 response to Herrell, exclusively obtained by the Piñon Post, that she has had no contact with the Biden administration over the leasing ban, which will negatively affect New Mexico’s bottom line. She also touted the State Land Office raising $1 billion annually.
“The Department of the Interior has not consulted with the State Land Office during the implementation of new executive orders, rules, and regulations for activity on federal land. We hope to be involved in future discussions related to easing the potential impacts of these orders on the state,” wrote Gracia Richard.
“I appreciate your concern regarding the checkerboard nature of lands across our state and the West and how this plays into the Biden administration’s pause on federal leasing. Knowing this fact, you will also understand that our state’s and other states’ reliance on oil and gas is a shortsighted budgeting mechanism, because it is a finite resource. Long-term solutions and diversification are necessary.”
She then added that knowing nearly 40% of New Mexico’s general funding keeps her “up at night,” following up on ways she has done her part to dismantle the oil and gas industry in New Mexico, saying she is using “every tool at our disposal to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for the clean-up of state trust land that they use to make profits. In just the last six months, we have forced the plugging of 16 abandoned wells, fully reclaimed 12 contaminated sites, and sued 15 companies when they would not cooperate with our clean-up efforts.”
Garcia Richard said she hoped Herrell would join in with the far-left Democrats in New Mexico’s congressional delegation to push forward legislation to “plug” wells. She also said that she hopes Herrell will join her for “when the wells run dry, New Mexico has revenue streams from industries like film, science and technology, aerospace, hemp, and agriculture–truly every option available–to ensure that we can continue funding our state’s needs.”
However, Garcia Richards’ hollow concerns over wells “running dry” is not a concern. According to Forbes, the inventory of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) “suggests that Permian Basin production still has a lot of room to run.” The Forbes report notes that “ If all drilling suddenly ceased in the Permian, there is nearly a year’s worth of drilled inventory that still needs to be completed. That’s a lot of oil waiting to be extracted.”
In Garcia Richard’s letter, she said she had concern over the amount of land at her disposal to lease, however, she has leased land to unsustainable wind power companies, which are a hazard to wildlife (specifically birds and bats) and the wind turbines cannot be recycled. They also need oil to run, while being heavily subsidized by the state.
In response to Garcia Richard’s letter, which appeared to support the Biden regime’s oil leasing ban, Larry Behrens of the pro-energy group Power The Future said, “The response from Commissioner Garcia Richard shows she is extremely out-of-touch. The federal order is months old now and Garcia Richard admits her office has not reached out at all to get any clarification from the Interior Department. Considering… Biden’s terrible orders, Congresswoman Herrell is reaching out to save New Mexico jobs and Commissioner Garcia Richard’s response proves she’s done nothing but appease radical environmentalists.”
Department of the Interior secretary Deb Haaland recently announced even more anti-energy policies and the enactment of a new “climate task force” to enact what she calls “environmental justice.” Garcia Richard and Haaland, who is a proponent of the Green New Deal, have supported each other in the past.