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Democrats Divided On Potential Drilling Ban

While the top Democratic presidential contenders call for a ban on new drilling on federal land, Democrats in power in some of the western oil states argue that it is thanks to the oil and gas drilling boom that their states get to receive more resources for education.

The difference of opinions within the Democratic Party highlights how Democratic presidential hopefuls may have to walk a tightrope about their sweeping plans to ban drilling on federal land, especially in blue states such as New Mexico, for example.

In New Mexico, where production is at an all-time high and which is home to part of the Permian shale basin, money in state coffers is piling up from oil and gas leases and drilling operations—and that money is hard to say no to.

New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wants the resources to continue to help support the state’s educational policies and funding. And she would ask a Democratic president—should one of her own party’s hopefuls win the 2020 election—to grant New Mexico a waiver from any ban on drilling, Lujan Grisham told Reuters reporter Valerie Volcovici in an interview.

In Colorado, Democratic Governor Jared Polis is looking forward to a “robust debate” about a drilling ban, the governor’s press secretary Conor Cahill told Reuters.

New Mexico received US$2.4 billion from public land leases in 2018—double its receipts from 2017—out of the US$9 billion funds from such leases across the United States. Colorado’s receipts were around US$500 million, according to the Department of the Interior data, cited by Reuters. 

Related: Protect The Oil: Trump’s Top Priority In The Middle East

New Mexico’s governor touted the benefits of the oil and gas industry at the annual meeting of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) in October.  

“Without the oil and gas industry, without the energy effort in this state, no one gets to make education the top priority,” Governor Lujan Grisham said, as carried by Western Wire.

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“I could spend well longer than 30 minutes telling you about the benefits of what’s going on in the state of New Mexico because of what’s going on in the oil and gas industry — opportunities that we haven’t seen, ever,” Governor Lujan Grisham noted.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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