New Mexico has sold 4 million acres of land to oil companies and development

  A Wilderness Society report finds that in a little over a century of statehood, New Mexico has liquidated about 30 percent of the land originally granted to it—nearly 4 million acres—and sold it to cattle ranchers, oil and gas companies, railroads and other development interests.

The report underscores again why we should be skeptical of politicians’ guarantees that the land takeover movement won’t ultimately serve to enrich special interests at the expense of ordinary Americans.

The findings arrive at a felicitous moment. In the last few months, a fringe-led campaign to seize national public lands has moved from isolated state legislatures—including New Mexico’s-to the halls of Congress. Early in 2017, New Mexicans rallied in opposition to a House bill-later withdrawn-that would have sold off millions of acres of land in the state and nine others (the parcels were to be “disposed of,” in the parlance of that legislation).

Anti-public lands lawmakers have frequently tried to quell fears about the “land takeover” enterprise by claiming that, once seized, public lands will not be sold off. Like a similar report about Idaho’s state lands, released in May 2016, these data suggest New Mexicans should be wary of such promises.

Read the full report…

 

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