Gov. Susana Martinez has voiced her support for Sen. Tom Udall, who has introduced legislation challenging the Obama administration’s decision to use sequestration to seize 5 percent of mineral and energy royalties from states..
“The federal government should never have cut these royalty payments to begin with, as they don’t represent the traditional type of programmatic cuts that the sequester was seemingly designed to enforce,” Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell wrote in an e-mail to New Mexico Watchdog.
In late March, the Obama administration through the Department of the Interior contacted 35 states that have federal leases on state lands, informing them that due to sequestration 5 percent of their royalties from mineral and energy extraction (such as coal, oil and natural gas) would be forfeited.
The two states hardest hit are Wyoming (which will lose $53 million) and New Mexico (which would lose $26 million).
“The agreement for mineral development needs to be honored,” Udall said by phone Thursday (May 9) from his Capitol Hill office. “These aren’t federal funds. These revenues should not be subject to sequestration.”
Gov. Martinez and officials in her administration have also complained and late Thursday afternoon, her spokesman said she “fully supports” Udall’s bill, adding she also “supports blocking the 2 percent federal collection fee, which costs New Mexico nearly $10 million for a service that costs the federal government a fraction of that.”
In an e-mail to New Mexico Watchdog, Heinrich wrote, “I disagree with DOI’s decision to sequester revenue under the Mineral Leasing Act and am pursuing an approach to fixing the problem that may not require legislation.”
Heinrich didn’t elaborate on what kind of solution he has in mind.
In 2012, New Mexico received about $488 million in mineral and energy extraction royalties from the Mineral Leasing Act.
The idea of putting solar panels on the Roundhouse parking garage is being pushed by an environmental group. The group managed to convince legislators to set aside $185,000 of taxpayers’ money aside for solar panels during the last legislative session, but alas (for them) Gov. Martinez vetoed it.
Readers in this space will know that we are not big fans of subsidies for ANY energy source (see chart below):
But that is not even the point when it comes to questioning the merits of this particular project:
1) The Roundhouse sits largely empty for 10 months out of the year (yes, there are interim committee hearings), will the electricity generated by sold on the grid?
2) Top electricity usage in the Roundhouse would be during the legislative session which takes place during January-February (or March) when the sun shines the least. How is this cost-effective?
3) While the group claims a repayment schedule that clearly seems to benefit taxpayers, can we get a full accounting of the costs and benefits of this project (including all subsidies) from a third-party auditor?