Study: New Regulations Could Bring More Funds to NM Schools
Thursday, March 24, 2016
SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico schoolchildren are being shortchanged millions of dollars by oil and gas companies that vent or flare natural gas into the atmosphere, according to a new report.
The study by the Western Values Project says a proposed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulation would require producers on public lands to pay royalties on that methane gas that otherwise escapes.
James Jimenez, director of policy research and advocacy integration with New Mexico Voices for Children, says school districts' budgets are hurting without that revenue.
"We do an annual report updating how the Legislature funds our school districts with respect to not only nominal dollars, but we look at: Is it keeping up with inflation?” he explains. “Is it keeping up with the growth of the student population? And the answer is a resounding, 'No.' Our schools are hurting."
The study conservatively estimates that New Mexico schools lost upwards of $52 million in tax revenue over a recent five-year period.
Jimenez says that means fewer new textbooks, a shortage of classroom supplies and fewer repairs for school facilities.
New Mexico law mandates that federal mineral royalties be used to fund education.
Chris Saeger, coauthor of the Western Values Project study, says the BLM regulations would require operators to adopt proven, efficient technologies to increase the amount of gas they capture, as well as prevent leaks.
"What this BLM rule proposes to do is to charge a royalty on that gas that is vented and flared, as opposed to sold,” he explains. “Because it is, after all, a public resource that belongs to all American taxpayers. "
Federal mineral revenues account for about one-third of New Mexico's annual general fund, but Saeger says it could be much more if producers pay royalties on vented or flared natural gas.
The public comment period on the proposed rule ends April 8.
get more stories like this via email
Groups fighting for Palestinian rights are praising a new fact sheet on religious discrimination from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for …
Lawmakers and immigrants-rights activists in the Commonwealth are hoping to pass the Language Access and Inclusion Act, which would dramatically …
New U.S. Department of Agriculture rules will target fraud and increase oversight of the $64 billion-a-year organic food industry. In Iowa, the …
By Jennifer Weiss-Wolf for Ms. Magazine.Broadcast version by Eric Galatas for Colorado News Connection reporting for the Ms. Magazine-Public News …
Health and Wellness
With Black History Month underway, Wisconsin researchers and support groups are highlighting the disparities in cases of Alzheimer's disease…
North Dakota's plan to boost animal agriculture has reignited a thorny issue: loosening restrictions on corporate ownership of farms. The state said …
Oregon is pursuing an aggressive climate plan to switch to renewable energy sources, but it faces one often overlooked issue: enough high-voltage …
A measure in the Washington State Legislature would provide free school meals to K-12 students, but nutrition service workers are worried they are …