(Albuquerque) New Mexico could see both an economic boom and improved management of the federally-controlled Forest Service and BLM lands within its borders. New data providing three different scenarios on the economic potential of New Mexico’s public lands from Dr. Timothy J. Considine, a professor of energy economics at the University of Wyoming, illustrates the vast potential of these lands for oil and gas production.

New Mexico

Low

Medium

High

Wells

727

836

1,234

Value Added

2,522

2,899

8,432

Taxes

600

689

1,018

Jobs

20,305

23,341

67,968

Valued added and taxes are in millions of 2013 dollars

Notes Rio Grande Foundation president Paul J. Gessing, author of the brief, The Economic Possibilities of Unlocking Energy Resources on New Mexico’s Federal Lands, “Opening portions of New Mexico’s federal lands to resource development is not and should not be an open invitation to pillage the land.

“Rather,” argues Gessing, “oil and gas can be accessed in an environmentally-sensitive manner while some of those revenues could be used in prevent forest fires, improve wildlife habitat, and allow the public to access and recreate on those lands in ways that are not currently possible.”

In fact, the Rio Grande Foundation’s analysis indicates that BLM and Forest Service lands would be better managed by state officials here in New Mexico as opposed to federal bureaucrats from Washington, DC. Bi-partisan legislation, HB 292, to formally request the return of these lands from Washington was introduced during the 2013 legislative session. Similar legislation has passed in Utah and other Western states.

For an idea of the significance of this added economic activity relative to New Mexico’s economy, the number of jobs created could be as much as 7.8 percent higher and New Mexico’s gross state product would rise by a whopping 10 percent.

Considine’s paper upon which this research is based is available here.

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