Inside the Capitol

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10-19 Catlett Reassures Oil Industry

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- New Mexico Oil and Gas Association members gathered in Santa Fe two weeks ago for their annual convention.
Numbers were down, oil and gas prices and production were way down but keynote speaker, Dr. Lowell Catlett, delivered an upbeat message that brightened the day.
Economic downturns are common, he told the luncheon group. We've had 14 recessions during the last 80 years. These recessions provide a means for society to re-balance what they deem important.
Every recession leads to a spurt in new business starts and new technological adaptations. Get ready for a phenomenal growth in healthcare, energy and lifestyle markets, he said.
It was the phenomenal energy growth that conference goers liked to hear. Every American has a dream space, Catlett said, holding his long arms in a pyramid above his head. People afford what they want. This means demand will never go down.
For those willing to embrace the opportunities, the next decade will be successful beyond any in history, Catlett said.
No wonder Lowell Catlett is the most sought after speaker for corporate and association meetings in New Mexico. At least I run into him more often than any other speaker -- and never miss an opportunity to listen to him.
Catlett is a regents' professor and dean at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Years ago, before Garrey Carruthers became governor of New Mexico in 1987, Catlett and Carruthers were office mates in the NMSU department of agricultural economics.
It was when Carruthers became governor that Catlett's name started popping up everywhere. But he didn't need the governor's help to make a big impression on New Mexicans and the rest of the world.
Catlett is a futurist, whose knowledge of new technologies and their implications on the way we will live and work in the future makes for a thought-provoking and entertaining presentation.
He also brought a message of hope about the next generation of leaders. He noted that many of today's college students no longer are flocking to Mazatlan for spring break. They are staying closer to home and volunteering for charities such as Habitat for Humanity.
Rep. Joni Gutierrez, Catlett's wife, is a member of the state Legislature and often in the news.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association funds a scholarship at NMSU. The group's relationship with Catlett likely has something to do with the scholarship.
Oil and gas production in New Mexico is often a matter of controversy, especially for ranchers and environmentalists. To help correct any problems, the industry has instituted a good neighbor program aimed at respecting property rights, protecting livestock, communicating with landowners and providing remediation and restoration of damages.
The industry is important to New Mexico. Other than the gross receipts tax, the petroleum industry is the largest source of revenue to the state.
For every dollar drop in the price of a barrel of oil, the state loses about $8 million in annual revenue. For every 10-cent drop per thousand cubic feet of natural gas, the state loses about $12 million annually. Those price drops have much to do with our current special session.
In addition, the industry is the largest civilian employer in the state with over 2,300 jobs directly related to production, refining, processing, marketing, transportation and field services.
Ads opposing the energy bill currently in Congress began running on television and in newspapers about the time of the oil and gas convention. But there was no connection.
The ads are being placed by national organizations and are aimed at constituents of New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman because he is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, which will have a major say about the bill.
Instead of claiming "CO2 Is Green," a NMOGA panel discussed issues of sequestering carbon dioxide from the environment.
MON, 10-19-09

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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