Garcia Richard describes New Mexico as the battleground for the future of energy
FARMINGTON — Newly-elected Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard says New Mexico plays an important role in the country, and she's not here to "pull the plug" on the extraction industry.
“It’s sort of the ground zero, the battleground, for the future of energy in our country,” Garcia Richard said on Sunday, when she joined other Democratic Party candidates for some pre-election campaigning in Farmington.
New Mexico has seen a recent boom in oil and gas production in the southeast corner of the state, in the Permian Basin. This has created a more than $1 billion surplus for the state.
The land commissioner oversees the State Land Office, which manages 13 million mineral acres and 9 million surface acres in New Mexico. This land is leased for a variety of purposes, including oil and gas production. Those leases help fund many things in New Mexico, including education.
She said the first thing she plans on doing after she takes office is a forensic audit of all the books in the office.
In addition, Garcia Richard wants to increase the number of field officers and work on new policies for rights of ways and easements that will allow pipelines to be built to transport products.
“I’m not here to pull the plug on the industry,” Garcia Richard said.
Instead, she said she wants to hold the industry accountable and ensure that all oil and gas producers are paying royalties to the state.
Garcia Richard said she anticipated a close race for land commissioner, where she faced former land commissioner and current Public Regulation Commissioner Patrick Lyons as well as Libertarian Michael Lucero.
Unofficial results showed Garcia Richard receiving 340,613 votes while Lyons received 291,687 votes and Lucero received 38,729 votes.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.