Sunlit Water

September 4, 2008

We Have Oil Too!

Filed under: Politics — by teofilo @ 10:49 pm

Yglesias makes a very good point here about the nature of “the energy problem” and Sarah Palin’s alleged expertise about it.  I just want to quibble with his including New Mexico on the list of swing states that have different energy issues than oil states like Alaska.  New Mexico is actually an oil-producing state, it’s just that its oil reserves are heavily concentrated in the far southeast and northwest corners of the state and the overall amount of oil is too small to make a big difference to the politics of the state as a whole.

Matt’s still justified in including New Mexico with the other states he lists, since the overall salience of energy issues here is much more similar to those states than to Alaska or Texas.  The localized nature of the oil reserves means that the effects of oil money on politics mostly play out at the local rather than state level.  The governor of New Mexico certainly doesn’t have the same approach to energy issues as the governor of Alaska, but the mayors of Hobbs and Farmington may.

I’ve hardly spent any time in the southeast part of the state, which borders West Texas and is where most of the oil is, but I’ve spent a lot of time up here in the northwest, which has its own small but significant pocket of reserves, so I notice this sort of thing more than most people would.  When I come back up here from Albuquerque, as I did yesterday, I see plenty of pumpjacks by the side of the road.  Indeed, there’s even a company doing exploratory drilling right now on some of the land my family owns in this area, naturally on the part of our land where we don’t own the mineral rights (though they did need to pay us for the right to drill, which they did).  My oft-derided birthplace of Farmington isn’t a pleasant place, but it’s not for lack of money.  Again, though, the benefits of all this oil money are quite restricted both geographically and socially even within the local area.


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