Oil drop good only for short-term

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By Ralph Damiani

As oil prices waver near to three-year lows as investors weighed falling global demand and a government report showing an unexpected decline in U.S. crude inventories, New Mexico faces a real budget crisis.

We will admit that it is nice to drive to Albuquerque and buy gas for $1.69 a gallon. But while it may be good for drivers in the short-term, it is disasterous for the state in the long run.

As the state gets much of its funding from extraction, and has indebted the us to the tune of millions from projected revenues that will not now occur, we face some severe funding shortages.

While light, sweet crude for January delivery gained 45 cents to $47.41 a barrel, the contracted price was $46.82, the lowest level since May 20, 2005, when it traded at $46.20.

Oil prices have fallen about 68 percent since peaking at $147.27 in July. And that was the time Gov. Richardson pushed the Legislature to pass spending bills that would use that money. Now, that money will not be there and what will he do?

Rather, what will Gov. Denish do now that Bill is leaving while the getting is good?

Another problem could be that the crisis has passed and people’s concern with conservation will fall. And that will be tragic.

We need to focus on alternate energy, we need to focus on better fuel-efficient vehicles and we need to focus on how we can reduce our need for fossil fuels.

There are long-term matters that we must address. They cannot be pushed away now that gas is about a third of what it was a few months ago.

Part of the fall in gasoline prices is due to the fact that Americans are driving far fewer miles. This needs to continue.

The U.S. economy has been in a recession for about a year, making the current downturn the longest in a quarter century, according to a panel of economists with the National Bureau of Economic Research.

So while U.S. crude inventories rise as consumers and businesses cut back on fuel spending, this should help the economy.

But it may be a big hurt to us here in New Mexico as the Legislature must find ways to fund all these new projects the state has started. And we are very concerned that instead of cutting back on some of these new projects, all we will see is our taxes go up.