Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Conservation Organizations Denounce Land Commissioner Candidate Jones’ Energy Plan as “Outrageous” and a “Bailout for Oil Companies”
Today, two major environmental organizations strongly criticized the energy plan of State Land Commissioner candidate Sandy Jones and released the following statement:
“Sandy Jones’ proposal to expand drilling on state trust lands while sticking taxpayers with the tab for environmental protection looks like a bailout for the oil companies,” said Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New Mexico. “In the wake of this devastating Gulf oil spill, we need leaders who will develop New Mexico’s clean energy economy, not promote more ‘drill baby drill’.”
According to an April 30th article in the Las Cruces Bulletin, Jones’ energy plan calls for doubling the amount of oil and gas drilling on state lands while reducing the royalty rates currently paid by oil and gas companies.
Managing state trust lands in perpetuity to fund education is the mandate of the Commissioner of Public Lands.
“The goal should be long-term sustainability of education funding—focusing on renewable energy resources that can build and permanently fund high-quality schools,” said Susan Martin, Political Chair of the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Jones seeks to pillage the Land of Enchantment, and ensure that our children and grandchildren will ultimately pay the price.”
Jones also proposes that companies be offered a 100% tax credit for complying with the new pit rule, adopted by the state to protect communities’ groundwater supplies.
“Jones wants taxpayers to foot the bill for oil and gas companies’ expenditures to prevent water contamination from their operations.” said Martin. “It’s simply outrageous for New Mexico taxpayers to be paying companies not to pollute the water our communities need to survive.”
Instead of focusing on solid, sustainable revenue generation from state lands—through leases for solar, wind and geothermal projects, or from permits for recreational access—Jones’ drilling plan could jeopardize long-term education funding in order to serve the short-term financial interests of the oil and gas industry. Increasing New Mexico’s reliance on a globally-priced commodity, such as oil, leaves NM vulnerable to market fluctuations.
“To protect predictable long-term funding for education, we need to move away from volatile peak oil and generate trust revenue from infinite energy sources such as the sun,” said Buffett.
Jones is running against Ray Powell and Harry Montoya in the Democratic primary for Commissioner of Public Lands. Both Conservation Voters New Mexico and the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club have endorsed Ray Powell for that office.