Amber Wallin

Amber Wallin

Even when we’re grateful for something — for example, the jobs and state revenue we get from oil and gas production — that doesn’t mean we should cut ourselves short and ignore our own needs. We deserve to get the best deal we can. But when it comes to oil and natural gas, we’ve settled for a bad deal for a very long time.

While families in New Mexico face rising gasoline prices at the pump, oil and natural gas companies are getting the deal of a century. Not only are they cashing in on higher prices, but they pay pennies on the dollar to lease our public lands for development and evade having to pay New Mexicans what we’re rightfully owed in royalties. All of this undercuts funding for our schools, and our children deserve better.

Thankfully, the Department of the Interior recently released a new report on the federal oil and gas leasing program with recommendations on how to fix this archaic program, which, for decades, has let oil and gas companies take advantage of outdated rates. For families in New Mexico, which is the second-largest oil-producing state in the country, these recommendations come at a critical time, as this needs fixing, now.

Amber Wallin is deputy director for New Mexico Voices for Children.

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