Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Election revives Commisioner Dunn's aspirations for oil-rights transfer

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn said Wednesday that his proposal to boost early childhood education funding has a better chance of approval with the election of Donald Trump as president. Dunn is seeking support from state and federal lawmakers to transfer federal mineral rights underneath private lands to the state of New Mexico. The State Land Office would lease the subsurface holdings to oil and natural gas developers, and other potential mining interests, and deposit revenues in a trust fund for early childhood education. “I just think the transfer of federal mineral rights to the state under private land might be more favorable under a Trump administration, because the (leadership of the) Interior and the BLM will change,” Dunn said. However, Dunn’s initiative faces resistance in New Mexico from owners of private ranches with federal mineral rights underfoot and from environmentalists. The proposal so far has no sponsor in the state Legislature, where Democrats reclaimed an overall majority in November elections, and it would require U.S. congressional approval. Dunn said he has the support of U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the House committee on natural resources, as well as Rep. Steve Pearce, the sole Republican among New Mexico’s delegation to Washington. Trump has yet to name an Interior Department secretary to replace Sally Jewell...more

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