SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Despite recent efforts to expand income from renewable resources, the latest numbers from the state’s Land Office show that the bulk of the state’s income from land-owning comes from oil and gas. But the office did highlight moves toward renewables in a recent presentation for state legislators.
The State of New Mexico owns around 13 million acres of land, according to the State Land Office. And that land generates billions in revenue for public education, government operations, and a wide range of public projects, the bulk of which comes from leasing land to oil and gas producers.
Historically, oil and gas revenues have driven the bulk of the state’s land-based income. And in recent years, gas production on state land has nearly doubled, and oil production has risen by over 50%, according to a presentation given to the state’s Legislative Finance Committee on Monday.
While New Mexico’s oil and gas provide billions in funding for the state, it’s also its largest source of greenhouse gasses. Because of this, some state leaders have pushed to reduce the state’s dependency on the industry.
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Charts from the State Land Office show that oil and gas production on state lands has risen in the last few years. From: LFC presentation.
“We are trying to get away from gas and oil,” Rep. Debra M. Sariñana, from Bernalillo County, told KRQE News 13 earlier this year. “We know how bad they are as far as environmentally.” She says that the state has a responsibility to clean up the industry.
The State Land Office has boosted its investments in renewable resources. From January 2019 to September 2022, the number of active leases for renewable energy has more than quadrupled, according to the State Land Office. And annual revenue from leases to renewable energy producers has risen 1,400%, they say.
Most of the state’s leases for renewable energy go to wind-based electricity production. There are more than two dozen leases for wind-based energy production. And beyond wind, roughly 18% of the renewable energy production on state-owned land is solar.
These renewable sites are scattered around the state. But most wind production is in east-central New Mexico, and much of the state’s solar leases are near the state’s southern border.
Despite the expansion of renewable leases, when it comes to income these renewables create for the state versus the income from oil and gas, there’s still no comparison. In the fiscal year 2022, royalties from oil and gas totaled $2.3 billion — that’s 96% of the State Land Offices earnings that year, according to numbers presented to legislators.