Businesses favor regulation reduction plan

Representatives of environmental groups that have pushed for tighter regulation of the oil and gas industry, however, were opposed to the "one in, two out" plan.

Leigh Black Irvin
Charles Dobey, owner of Teach the Children, works on Tuesday in his store at 1618 E. 20th St. in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — On Monday, President Trump signed an executive order intended to reduce federal regulations on businesses. Specifically, the plan would require that any federal agency wishing to impose a new regulation must also identify two existing regulations to be repealed.

Several local business owners said they're in favor of the order and anything else that reduces the burden on small businesses.

"We waste money complying with regulation after regulation," said Clifton Horace, owner of Farmington's Horace Nissan car dealership. "Some regulations are common sense, but when you have thousands of pages of regulations, it really slows things down."

Horace, who also serves as chairman of the Four Corners Economic Development board, said he has long been a proponent of slashing regulations, though he would prefer the number to be four regulations eliminated for each new one proposed.

Horace acknowledged that some regulations make sense and are necessary, but said what used to be a simple transaction — purchasing a vehicle — has become an exhausting paperwork maze.

"If you come in to buy a car, the state requires you to have insurance on your car and that's good, that's valid," he said. "But I have this huge long form and disclosure form you have to sign that says you're aware you can buy insurance from anywhere you want. Why do I need to get a fine if that form isn't signed? These things are common sense, they're a waste of a tree, a waste of paper. There are so many regulations, no one can keep up with them."

Other small business owners said federal regulations aren't as burdensome as are city ordinances and regulations.

Charles Dobey is owner and manager of Teach the Children, an educational supply store located on 20th Street.

"I think I deal more with city issues like easements and signage than with the federal part of it," said Dobey. "Any small business within the city limits deals with setbacks regarding signage and parking, and that has more impact than the federal regulations. But small businesses are heavily over-taxed — I see more impact from that and local regulations."

Bertha Alcon has owned the Riverside Pizza Restaurant in Farmington for the past six years. Alcon said that she doesn't run into many issues with federal regulations with her current day-to-day work, but said setting up her business involved dealing with many regulations from all areas of government.

Bertha Alcon, owner of Riverside Pizza Restaurant, talks on Tuesday about business regulations while standing inside her restaurant at 1609 E. 20th St. in Farmington.

"In the beginning, there was a lot I had to go through, and a lot of it I didn't think was necessary," she said. "I hope things improve for small businesses soon, but I haven't seen a lot of these changes yet."

The local industry most affected by federal regulations has been the oil and gas industry, which is why owners of businesses in this field are probably the most optimistic about Trump's proposed changes.

"A lot of new laws were put on us during the previous administration that really aren't favorable to drilling the marginal wells that we operate," said Tom Dugan, president of Dugan Production Corp. "They're charging us over $9,000 for a permit to drill a well, and that's terrible, because in the past it was zero. They kept raising the fee, and it's a burden for these little bitty ol' wells I drill."

Representatives of environmental groups that have pushed for tighter regulation of the oil and gas industry, however, were opposed to the "one in, two out" plan signed Monday by President Trump.

"I think this is extremely misguided and is taking us in the wrong direction," said Mike Eisenfeld, energy and climate manager for San Juan Citizen's Alliance. "It's also very arbitrary and capricious — which regulations do you want to get rid of? There's rhetoric that regulations are bad, but I think some are important, especially as we're the methane hot spot."

The 'hot spot' is a cloud of methane over the Four Corners that was detected by NASA researchers and has been attributed mainly to natural gas production.

New Mexico Representative James Strickler said that he's glad Trump is trying to curtail new regulations, but would like to see even more aggressive regulation-cutting statewide.

"We need help now," said Strickler. "We have to unwind the old regulations Obama put in over the last eight years that affect our industries. New Mexico is getting killed — we've had 11,000 people leave our county and we've lost 6,000 jobs."

Lynn Howell, who opened Sunset Spas on 20th Street several months ago, said that while she's not sure how Monday's executive order will affect her personally, she's certain the new administration will usher in positive changes for businesses.

"Trump is more business-minded whereas other (presidents) were politicians," she said. "He's been building his empire and knows what we face. I think he understands more about business, and I'm hoping the oil industry will pick up — that will help all of us.

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.