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Today's Opinions

  • Making a well requires luck and science

    As a rule, New Mexico oil and gas production is out of sight and, therefore, out of mind. Even in the production areas of the southeast and northwest, I suspect a goodly proportion of people not directly involved have only a general sense of what happens.
    Even the financial impacts manifest only in a general way. In good times, state government gets oil and gas money and expands. In less good times, such as today, less money appears and government, though crunched, expands anyway. Local effects, though, are immediate for good or bad.
    At the recent Legislative Finance Committee meeting in Artesia, staff at Elite Well Services and Nick Agopian of Devon Energy walked through the steps in making an oil well. Overall, the Delaware Basin in New Mexico and Texas within the Permian Basin is a “world class oil and gas play,” Agopian said. The term “play” means (thank you Wikipeda) an area with the same geology (to over simplify).
    Each well costs from $1 million to $8 million. In most communities, an $8 million business investment merits a headline.
    The tasks are complicated, difficult, technical and not obvious to the passerby. The work requires much science and a fair amount of luck.

  • Save New Mexico’s historic sites!

    New Mexico is about to fire Billy the Kid.
    Coronado, Victorio, the conquistadores, and the U. S. Cavalry are getting the sack, too.
    Visitors come here to see these icons at the state’s seven historic sites. Just in time for peak tourist season, the state Cultural Affairs Department announced a draconian plan to kick out the very people who know the most about these sites – their managers.
    The department announced a plan in late May to save money by reorganizing the Historic Sites Division, combing six sites into three regions with new managers. This would affect Jemez, Coronado, Fort Selden, Camino Real, Lincoln and Fort Stanton historic sites. Bosque Redondo and Los Luceros aren’t affected (yet). Another six positions department-wide are also on the block. But the department wants to hire 13 “critical employees,” including three PR people.
    Terminations are effective Aug. 3, if the State Personnel Board approves the plan at its July 21 meeting.
    Let’s recall that during the legislative session, declining revenues forced lawmakers to shrink the budget and give the administration permission to do more cutting, if necessary.
    It’s always a grim process, but in reducing costs, two principles ought to be at work. First, spread the pain evenly.

  • Stronger state economy requires shared vision and collaboration

    BY WILLIAM F. FULGINITI
    Executive Director, New Mexico Municipal League

  • There are better ways to ‘pull together’ for New Mexico’s impoverished kids

    BY VERONICA C. GARCIA, Ed.D.
    Executive Director, New Mexico Voices for Children

  • LFC in Artesia: Ominous federal regulatory clouds over oil and gas

    Just how little we know about the New Mexico world around us is one lesson from the mid-June visit to Artesia by the Legislative Finance Committee’s traveling summer road show.
    Massive danger from Obama administration regulatory overreach (putting it politely) is another lesson.
    Holding meetings around the state allows legislators to get some direct knowledge of people and activities and provides an opportunity for those, such as Eddy County Commissioners Stella Davis and James Walterscheid, who both attended the Artesia session, to get acquainted with respected senators and representatives.
    LFC members coming to Artesia included Sen. John Arthur Smith, Deming; Rep Jimmie Hall, Albuquerque; Rep. Paul Bandy, Aztec; Sen. Carlos Cisneros, Questa; Rep. Jason Harper, Albuquerque; Sen. Carroll Leavell, Jal; and Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, Gallup.
    Oil was the topic for the day in Artesia. One illustration of different legislator perspective came as the group toured Elite Well Services (elitewells.com). The firm and its facilities are a long way from Sandia National Laboratories where Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, earns his living. Employment of the highest technologies connects Elite and Sandia. A layman-level summary of extracting oil was a highlight at Elite Services.

  • Hot, dirty work of fire suppression needs support

    The Dog Head Fire in Torrance and Bernalillo counties roared to life just as a couple of important bills were under debate in Congress.
    A few upbeat notes: We’ve seen a fast response by helpers to raise money, pitch in at evacuation sites, and bring animals to the State Fair Grounds for safekeeping. Southwest Incident Management posts timely information on its website and has a Facebook page, so if you’re sitting in an evacuation center you know what’s going on.
    Fire fighters are, again, our heroes. Locals have been lavish in posting their praise and thanks, except for one guy: “Who will reimburse me for all the days spent in a hotel, and all the food lost in my refrigerator/freezers since the power was cut????”
    That provoked a response: “Give these people a break, for crying out loud! It’s a natural flippin’ disaster and people are working their butts off trying to keep others and property safe.”

  • Not your parents’ national parks but beautiful just the same: Happy 100!

    We’re celebrating the centennial of the national park system this year, and this week the First Family visits Carlsbad Caverns. I hope they enjoy it as much as my family has.
    For many of us growing up, the family vacation meant a road trip. Sometimes the destination was a national park. I saw the caverns the first time as a kid and passed it along when my son was old enough to understand what he was seeing. He loved it.
    New Mexico has its share of treasures: Carlsbad Caverns, Bandelier, El Malpais, White Sands, Fort Union, Aztec Ruins, Capulin Volcano, Chaco Canyon, El Morro, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Manhattan Project, Pecos, Petroglyph, Salinas Pueblo Missions, Valles Caldera.
    When we think of the national parks and monuments, it’s with a brush of nostalgia, but issues of 2016 will elbow their way in to the party.
    As we know, Carlsbad Caverns was without its elevators until recently. Congress has underfunded the National Park Service for years, and the backlog of deferred maintenance has reached $11.9 billion; in New Mexico, it’s $113 million -- $44.4 million just at Carlsbad. Many sites are understaffed.
    And yet our tourism industry counts on the 1.6 million visitors to New Mexico’s national parks and the $88.8 million they spent. The parks also provide 1,400 jobs here.

  • Written terms: The first step toward avoiding disputes

    BY FINANCE NEW MEXICO