T he New Mexico State Land Office’s monthly Oil and Gas Lease Sale, held Tuesday at the Daniels Leadership Center on the New Mexico Military Institute campus, raised $4.7 million for the state’s public schools, universities, and hospitals.
State Land Commissioner Ray Powell and state Assistant Commissioner of Mineral Resources Greg Bloom visited Roswell for the sale, which offered more than 30 tracts of land. Funds from the sale will go to the state’s land trust beneficiaries, Powell said, which include education and health care institutions.
“We’re really excited about that,” he said.
In 2012, the State Land Office generated $653 million, which Powell said prevents New Mexico families from having to pay about $850 a year in additional taxes.
Powell said when it comes to land usage, it is important not to comprise them for the future. The State Land Office recently began its “One Health” initiative, which promotes improving the health of lands, animals and communities.
The initiative is a collaborative effort and likewise, Powell said the office works with communities when making decisions.
“The idea is to come into the community and go through the process with the community…,” he said. “That way if it’s a bad idea, we can euthanize it quickly and if it’s a good idea, it gets even better.”
In addition to collaborating with oil and gas companies, the office also works with renewable energy projects, such as those involving wind, geothermal, biomass and solar power. There are several renewable energy projects located on state trust land, Powell said, with still more to come.
Energy produced by such projects can go directly to businesses, he said. Recently, the State Lands Office partnered with the EMCORE Corp. in Albuquerque on a solar project that will provide 20 percent of the facility’s power.
Renewable energy projects also have the potential for job creation, Powell said, and retention of the state’s residents — especially its youth.
“We spend a lot of money educating them here, “ he said. “We need to create opportunities for them and their families … so they’re not coming back here just to retire.”