Don’t leave money for kids on the table
As the last state land commissioner to raise oil and gas royalty rates on trust lands, I applaud our new commissioner, Stephanie Garcia Richard, for bringing forward legislation to do so once again. She will face opposition, of course, from the industry. However, as industry types pay Texas more than they pay us in New Mexico, they will have a tough time convincing me that increased rates will be a hardship.
But there is another issue that would bring in even more revenue. When was the last time you heard that a producer underpaid their royalties and taxes? Now we must perform a forensic audit of these same producers over the last eight years. The audit function at the state level fell apart under the mismanagement of the Martinez administration, and I estimate tens of millions have been left on the table due to incompetence; possibly even more. The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, the Oil Conservation Commission and the State Land Office need to make the Land Grant Permanent Fund whole by starting the audit immediately.
In his honor
Since the border wall is of such great importance to Donald Trump, perhaps he could solicit monies from his rich, crooked friends to donate and erect one in his honor, and they could take a hefty tax deduction as well. Trump could put up a sign with his name on it in gold, “The Trump Wall,” and underneath this greeting in Russian, “Privyet & Do svidaniya” which means “hello & bye bye.” This could be his legacy.
Today, we have a representative democracy — if we can keep it. Tomorrow we could have something quite different. Our U.S. Constitution is in tatters. Rights held dear are under attack, especially the First and Fourth Amendments. An unelected oligarchy of billionaires and corporations runs our government. Sept. 11 paved the way for intrusive surveillance, to “keep us safe” by prying into our most private affairs, facilitated by “smart homes” using untested, possibly dangerous, “5G” technology.
The 2016 election conjured up old Russian hysterias, thrusting us into a new Cold War and engendering a child-like willingness to allow unregulated private companies, Google, Facebook and soon “Newsguard,” to censor legitimate “alternative” news sites, silencing dissenting voices. The new Democratic House works to remove Donald Trump, ignoring dire social problems that helped elect him. Vice President Mike Pence looms in the background, an even greater danger. Disillusioned, demoralized, desensitized. Wake up, America! Let’s fix this before it’s too late!
No golden goose
Major money changes hands in drug deals. Should we therefore declare heroin a golden goose, become dependent on taxing it, and insist that its harm is justified by making some people rich? Absurd — yet Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington (“ ‘Don’t kill ‘golden goose,’ ” Commentary, Jan. 20), argues just this way for fossil fuels: Pretend they do no damage, hands off.
Those who refuse to turn a blind eye to 13 tons of methane annually; to economic harm from the boom-bust roller coaster; to endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in open, unlined pits — Montoya attacks as “special interests.” This from an industry that denies its local and global costs and oversells its benefits, meanwhile demanding taxpayer subsidies.
The new administration that Montoya attacks deserves our support. Rational fossil fuel policy cannot be made by ignoring or externalizing costs, and “the ends justify the means” is an argument that has seduced many societies to their demise.
We’re the ones
Wake up, Robert Siegel (“Dems, some advice,” Letters to the Editor, Jan. 29). You want the Democrats to nominate a moderate, middle-of-the-road, “electable white male” who looks and sounds like “most” American voters? Did you not see the participants in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Women’s Marches? Women comprise 167.5 million Americans to 160.93 million male Americans. And women generally turn out to vote at higher rates than their male counterparts. I think we’ll be the ones deciding who represents the Democrats in 2020 as well as the presidency. And they might very well be a female.