New Mexico Community Leaders Discuss Importance of Federal Oil and Gas Development

Mar 25, 2021

Virtual event featuring local voices follows Department of Interior forum on future of Federal Oil & Gas Leasing Program

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, March 25, 2021 – Oil and natural gas federal leasing and permitting are essential to the health and stability of New Mexico communities, a local hospital leader, teacher, and business owner said during a press call organized today by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA). The virtual event highlighted the broad consequences of a pause of federal oil and natural gas leasing and came immediately after the U.S. Department of Interior’s public forum on the matter.

Oil and natural gas development on federal lands provides New Mexico’s budget with $1.5 billion in revenue, including $734 million to public schools, $344 million to human and healthcare services, and $85 million to public safety, according to an analysis conducted in partnership with NMOGA.

“New Mexicans across all sectors of our economy reap the benefits of a strong, thriving oil and natural gas industry, and slowing or pausing activity here only limits critical revenue our state depends upon to fund important state services,” said NMOGA spokesman Robert McEntyre. “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate and partner with the Interior Department to ensure New Mexico is able to continue development of oil and gas in a safe, responsible manner while prioritizing our shared goals of reducing emissions and limiting the effects of climate change.”

The virtual event featuring David Shaw, CEO and Administrator of Nor-Lea General Hospital in Lovington; Kayli Ortiz, a pre-school teacher in the Reserve Independent School District; and Jason Sandel, executive vice president with the Aztec Well Family of companies near Farmington, showed how federal leasing benefits communities across the country and New Mexico.

“The oil and gas industry in Lea County has contributed considerably to the success of our organization and our ability to improve the health of southeast New Mexico residents,” David Shaw, CEO and Administrator of Nor-Lea Hospital in Lea County, said. “The industry contributes over half of the mill levy support for our hospital. We have leveraged these dollars to improve access to care by hiring new providers and building new clinics. In addition, Nor-Lea has successfully built a full-service cancer center, significantly lowering cancer mortality rates over the past decade. Prior to the addition of the cancer center residents had to travel over 250 miles round trip for treatment. None of these advances and improvements in health status would have been possible without the contributions of the oil and gas industry.”

“Federal leasing affects more than just the oil and gas industry. It affects our state’s entire educational system, everything from teacher salaries to our meal assistance program and the amount of resources available for our students,” Kayli Ortiz, a pre-school teacher at the Reserve Independent School District, said. “Teachers and students have revolutionized public education amidst the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and we cannot afford to lose critical revenue that keeps our school system afloat. The success of the oil and gas industry in our state determines how successful we can be in the classroom, it’s as simple as that.”

“Climate change is a real, serious threat and I appreciate the Biden administration’s attention to the matter, but addressing climate while simultaneously taking away New Mexicans’ ability to earn a living and put food on the table is damaging to our families who are in severe need at this time,” Jason Sandel, executive vice president of Aztec Well Family Services near Farmington, said. “Our family-owned and operated small business and the customers we support are the ones burdened by federal oil and gas permit delays and indefinite leasing bans. We’ve already laid a rig down that would’ve been responsible for 125 jobs – these are good-paying and inclusionary jobs; the kind of which are critical in northwest New Mexico. The longer this policy uncertainty lasts, the harder it will be on businesses like mine. There are people waiting to be called to action – waiting for the pause to be over and wondering why their jobs are being sacrificed. We need to lift the leasing ban and focus on how New Mexico leads through collaboration on policies that balance the health of our environment and economy.”

A recording of the press conference will be made available on NMOGA’s website.

NMOGA is a coalition of more than 1,000 oil and natural gas companies and individuals operating in the state of New Mexico. NMOGA is the oldest and largest organization representing the oil and gas industry in New Mexico and its members include all facets of oil and natural gas production, transportation, and delivery. The oil and natural gas industry is the greatest economic contributor to the state of New Mexico, supporting more than 134,000 jobs and $16.6 billion in annual economic activity. Taxes and royalties from the industry account for 33.5% of the New Mexico’s annual state budget, including nearly $1.4 billion for education.