The campaign accounts of state land commissioner candidates Pat Lyons, a Republican, and Stephanie Garcia Richard, a Democrat, tell remarkably different stories. Sixty percent of Lyon’s $268,000 — garnered from 172 donations — comes from companies or individuals employed in the oil and gas or agriculture industries, which are principle sectors that do business with the State Land Office. Half of that amount, or 30 percent of his total funds, comes from companies that have active leases with the State Land Office. Those lessees are largely oil and gas companies, ranchers or dairy producers. See Lyons Donors
Garcia Richard has raised $220,000 from 1,036 donors, 72 percent of which are $200 or less.
On a windy Monday morning in May, residents packed the Counselor Chapter House. Some sat in plastic folding chairs, while others leaned against the wall, all paying attention to the speakers. Coming to the front of the chapter house, Marie Chavez Herbert introduced herself in the Navajo language. “I’m going to talk real fast OK,” she said as she took the microphone to talk about fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, in her community near Chaco Canyon. Four members of the Navajo Nation Council, Speaker LoRenzo Bates, Councilor Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Councilor Davis Filfred and Councilor Leonard Tsosie who represents Counselor as well as nearby chapters, had come to hear testimony from area residents. The listening session, which lasted about five hours, provided a glimpse into tensions in several small Navajo communities near Chaco Canyon over an uptick in fracking in recent years, pitting those who worry about the public health hazards it poses against government agencies who authorize it, as well as some of their neighbors who benefit economically from leasing their land to oil and gas companies.
This week the state agency in charge of building a diversion on the Gila River has scaled down plans for capturing the river’s water. The agency’s decision might mean good news for project critics who feared its environmental consequences and high cost. But many questions remain around how much money the state has to build the project, the location and scale of the diversion, and who would buy the water once it’s built.
In the Southwest, recent springtime stream flow forecasts have been pretty bleak. But now, scientists at the University of New Mexico are saying that actually, they’re probably not bleak enough. Forecasters might not have adjusted enough for a moving target that is increasingly a factor—the climate’s continual warming.
Last year, New Mexico state lawmakers set aside $100,000 to study the state’s water supply. But now, the funding is gone. Citing a drop in state revenue, the Legislature has pulled funding for the group—known as the New Mexico Universities Working Group on Water Supply Vulnerabilities.
For University of New Mexico graduate student Shaleene Chavarria, understanding stream flows and climate change is personal. She’s from the Pueblo of Santa Clara which, like many of New Mexico’s tribes, relies on stream flows for irrigation as well as for ceremonies that are tied to the planting and harvest seasons.
Drought is not unusual in New Mexico. But unlike in the past, when changes in long-term, large-scale precipitation patterns drove drought in the Southwest, changes in temperature will drive drought in the future.
Thirty-three counties and more than 100 municipalities in New Mexico have passed restrictions on mining, oil and gas that go beyond state laws. A controversial bill that would limit that local control passed the House Tuesday.