Monday, July 28, 2008

"Taxed off the Farm"-New Mexico's rural property tax laws could price out long time residents--High Country News

Next year, however, tracts of land smaller than 47.4 acres will not qualify for the grazing rate, even if cows, goats or sheep eat the grasses that grow there.

Those with fewer than 47.4 acres could see a tax increase from $6 to $115 per acre – the rate for irrigated agricultural land – or possibly even a much higher tax based on the property’s full market value. In sparsely populated Mora County, which has a median household income of $24,515 -- about 60 percent of the national average -- this could have profound effects on residents. "They’re classing people out," says Bruce Frederick, staff attorney at the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC).

About 600 parcels of land in the county are smaller than 47.4 acres, and nearly all of those are currently taxed at the special grazing rate, according to Romero. "The market here in Mora has gone pretty high," she says. And if the properties are assessed at full market value, "there’s no way people here would be able to pay their taxes. No way."

The change is meant to bring all counties into compliance with the state’s order, says Rick Silva, director of property tax at New Mexico’s Taxation and Revenue Department.

But there is nothing in the statute that directly references minimum land requirements. So where does the 47.4 acre requirement come in? "It’s an inference," says Frederick. "And I think it’s an unjust inference that conflicts with the law."

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Letter-Writing Campaign-Mora-Toriam and State Land LeasesOrganizations on oil and gas

•Oil and Gas Accountability Project OGAP
•Common Ground United
•Drilling Santa Fe
•Drilling Mora County
•Viva Rio Arriba
Write to the following addresses (sample letter below) and tell them to protect your water, your county’s most fragile and important resource which feeds the land and your families therefore the culture and way of life in Mora County from any industry that violates the mandate of the people via the governing laws of our Development Guidance System (DGS).

•Commissioner Peter Martinez, chair
•Commissioner Gino Maes
•Commissioner Laudente Quintana
•Interim County Manager Miguel Martinez
•Planning and Zoning, Rumaldo Pino, Chair
Above addresses:
Mora County Government
PO Box 580
Mora, New Mexico 87732

Governor Bill Richardson
Office of the Governor
490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Room 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish
State Capitol
Suite 417
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Mark Fesmire
NM Oil Conservation Division
1220 South St. Francis Dr.
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Representative Tom Udall
District 3
811 St. Michaels Dr. Suite 104
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Representative Thomas Garcia
PO 56
Ocate, NM 87734
Senator Phil Griego
PO Box 10
San Jose, NM 87565

Sample Letter:
I’m writing to ask you to impose a 1 year moratorium on all aspects of oil and gas development in Mora County until such time the necessary environmental studies for our aquifers, acequias, wildlife, wells, etc. are completed and that it has been concluded that oil and gas development is compatible with our agricultural laws of Mora County.

The DGS already states that no polluting industry is allowed in our agricultural County. Please stand by the County laws and help strengthen the DGS from the threat of oil and gas industry development.

Please support our rights and be informed of our deep concerns.

Sincerely Yours,
Address and name

Write to the Commissioner of Public Lands, Governor, Lt. Governor, and our State Senator and State Representative and Governor (addresses above)

Sample Letter:
Commissioner of Public Lands
Commissioner Pat Lyons
NM State Land Office
PO Box 1148
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1148

Dear Mr. Lyons,

I am asking that you will defer the leasing of all state lands in Mora County due to the sensitive area for wildlife and our water for our communities. Our County’s laws, a mandate of our people, upheld in our Development Guidance System (DGS), stipulate that as an agricultural County, no polluting industry is allowed to degrade our way of life. Once the “bread-basket” for the State of New Mexico, we are reclaiming that right and claiming renewable resources to off-set the degradation of oil and gas extraction. Look to Mora County for GREEN—solar, wind and agriculture for our future generations.

Thank you for holding safely the leases on our Mora County earth.

Sincerely Yours,
Address and name

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"ANALYSIS-US oil firms seek drilling access, but exports soar" --Reuters

United States - By Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON3 (Reuters) - While the U.S. oil industry want access to more federal lands to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers, American-based companies are shipping record amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel to other countries.

A record 1.6 million barrels a day in U.S. refined petroleum products were exported during the first four months of this year, up 33 percent from 1.2 million barrels a day over the same period in 2007. Shipments this February topped 1.8 million barrels a day for the first time during any month, according to final numbers from the Energy Department.

The surge in exports appears to contradict the pleas from the U.S. oil industry and the Bush administration for Congress to open more offshore waters and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

"We can help alleviate shortages by drilling for oil and gas in our own country," President Bush told reporters this week. "We have got the opportunity to find more crude oil here at home."