Bill to sell off public lands being heard Wed. in State Sen. committee: Help us stop it from happening
This Wednesday the New Mexico Senate Education Committee will hear a bill, SB 182, about generating more revenue for early childhood education. But it’s not that simple.
In reality, this bill is actually the first step toward a dangerous ALEC and Republican scheme to sell off federal public lands by first “returning” them to state control, where state land officials like Republican State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn can sell that state land to Oil and Gas developers.
This complicated issue has reared its head in different ways over the years. From last year’s occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge by armed white militants to land transfer legislation in all 11 western states, the issue of federal management of public lands remains a BIG issue nationally and here in New Mexico.
SB 182 is the slight-of-hand kind of bill designed to distract voters and legislators by promising revenue for children but at a terrifying price. You can help stop that from happening.
Join the opposition to this bill. Add your name to send the State Senate a message: Oppose SB182
A lot of land in New Mexico and across the west is utilized by industry already. Our friends at New Mexico Wildlife Federation prepared a great info sheet with all the info you might need about SB 182.
Here in NM, royalties from extraction on public lands already goes into the state’s permanent fund used to fund education.
But the problem with Dunn’s ALEC-inspired bill is that it would likely take YEARS to see a penny come into this new fund. Even if this bill passed, the federal government would have to authorize the sale of the lands, then they’d have to be explored, companies would bid on leases, impact studies would have to be done, and all the while the public would likely lose access to those lands.
Public lands are all the state and federal lands that are managed for multiple uses all around the western United States. Millions of people from across the country and around the world come to visit New Mexico every year specifically to recreate in our state and national parks, hike, camp, hunt, fish, or just enjoy the breathtaking views. That’s not even considering the majority of our own citizens who enjoy getting outside as a part of our heritage.
People like Dunn think public lands aren’t any use to anyone anyway without an oil derrick pumping away or a herd of cattle overgrazing the land. He wrote SB 182 as an end-run saying it would go to help fund early education. But, here’s the reality of SB182:
- Dunn’s plan is part of the ALEC sponsored agenda to remove federal public lands by transferring them to state land offices.
- He even presented his plan, written as SB 182, to ALEC last year.
- Congressman Steve Pearce was “definitely interested” in hearing about this land disposal bill when Dunn traveled to DC.
- Only 5% of the actual budget for Early Childhood Education would be provided by this fund. The rest comes from the legislature and would be part of the general budget.
- Education in New Mexico is ALREADY subsidized by the leasing of mineral rights to Oil and Gas companies on STATE lands (which leaves the state vulnerable to the fluctuations in the market) but…
- This would open the way for 6.6 MILLION acres of public lands to be leased to companies as though they were state lands.
And he’s been VERY clear about what he’ll do if he gets a hold of more land: He wants to help Trump build his border wall.
Cutting a deal after Martínez introduced the border wall legislation at the Roundhouse, New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn sent a letter to President Trump proposing a land trade.
In anticipation of the border wall’s construction, Dunn would like to exchange state trust lands within three miles of the border for “more desirable” federal lands.
So what can you do about it?
SB 182 was introduced by long-time democratic Senator Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces. She’s cited the need for more funding for early childhood development as the reason she carried this bill. And we all agree that more needs to be done for education in the state, but we also know that selling of our beloved public lands isn’t the way to do it. Especially because we know that this is the first step of a more insidious plan.
Sign below to send a message to Sen. Papen and ask her to have her bill withdrawn THIS WEDNESDAY when it will have its first committee hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
Don’t want to sign via Facebook? Just unclick the Facebook button under “Add your name” and you can sign too! (or use this direct petition form link)