Natural Resources

 April 19th 2016 - Written by: Jeff Mitchell

What Do Millennials Know About Drought Anyway?

Water is arguably the most important resource in New Mexico. The recent ‘El Nino’ treated us well, bringing heavy rain last summer and snow during the winter. Does this mean that the drought is behind us? Accessible climate data is remarkably difficult to find, buried in frustratingly complex websites such as www.nws.noaa.gov and www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov. This blog entry is intended to introduce readers to useful data sources, with a principal focus on water resources. Only secondarily I offer a very general (and admittedly amateur) summary of the state’s recent climate history. The best source of historical climate data is National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a division of the US Commerce Department. The site includes data from no fewer than 549 weather stations in New Mexico alone (though data is not complete for all stations.) Unfortunately, the data delivery is very cumbersome, data entry that makes one long for the Census… View Full Post


 March 9th 2016 - Written by: Julian Baca

New Mexico Oil & Gas Production at an Inflection Point? A Review of O&G Production in NM and Other Important US Basins.

As the Energy Information Agency data shows in Chart 1 US exploration and production (E&P) companies started slashing the number of rigs deployed in the field beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014.  Reduced rig counts have broadly impacted production in the US and New Mexico.   Production levels and the global price of oil and natural gas determine important state tax revenues but also impacts overall economic activity.  This blog explores related data and a handful of these themes. As Chart 1 depicts, cuts in operating rigs have occurred in all major formations in the country.  Charts 2 and 3 demonstrate that oil and gas production has caught up with rig reductions to varying degrees depending on the basin. Natural gas output in the Eagle Ford and the Niobrara started to decline in the spring of 2015 while the Bakken reversed course by the middle of the same year and… View Full Post


 March 1st 2016 - Written by: Gwen Aldrich

Issues of economics, water, and forestry management converge in the Rio Grande watershed

The Rio Grande Water Fund is a non-profit public/private partnership that seeks to treat and thin forests in the Rio Grande Basin, thus protecting one of New Mexico’s most important water sources. The Fund was founded to reduce the prevalence of overgrown, thick, and homogeneous forests and thereby reduce the risk of wildfire and mitigate impacts on watersheds. However, thinning and treating forests is costly, and there are hundreds of thousands of acres that need treating. This raises questions as to the value of improved water quality and security and whether a market can be developed for what is mostly small-diameter wood. The wildfire risk and challenges posed by conditions in the Rio Grande watershed certainly are not unique. Similar conditions and issues exist across much of the West, and have contributed to the occurrence of wildfires that are on average larger in size than those that occurred approximately 30… View Full Post


 February 23rd 2016 - Written by: Julian Baca

Initial Impacts of Global Oil Supply & Prices on New Mexico Activity

New Mexico oil and gas production reached an all-time high last year, more than doubling from approximately 5 million barrels per month in 2009 to over 13 million barrels per month by the middle of 2015. Record high production has contributed to healthy tax revenue collections in recent years and has been a boon for economic activity in New Mexico’s oil producing regions, while also making an important contribution to statewide growth. Last month the global oil over-supply condition and growth concerns in China and other important economies pushed prices to the lowest level seen in twelve years. The decline was so steep, oil fell more than $75 in an eighteen month period. Since global demand growth is not sufficient to work off excess supply, the World’s oil producing nations have sought to cooperate on easing the oil glut in order to stabilize prices; negotiations have helped to somewhat counter… View Full Post


 February 16th 2016 - Written by: Gwen Aldrich

BBER and other members of the New Mexico Universities Working Group on Water Supply Vulnerabilities authored a report on the effects of the recent and ongoing drought on NM’s Lower Rio Grande

Researchers at UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research are part of the New Mexico Universities Working Group on Water Supply Vulnerabilities that was funded by the State Legislature in 2014. The working group was tasked with assessing the current status of New Mexico’s water supply and demand; evaluating the long-term impacts of the current drought on surface water, groundwater, and economic activity; and determining key vulnerabilities and potential policy strategies for mitigating these vulnerabilities. As a first step the Working Group focused on the Lower Rio Grande, and in 2015 provided their final report to the Interim Committee on Water and Natural Resources. Some of the key vulnerabilities identified in the report include: The Santa Teresa, NM area is likely to experience more business and population growth. Yet the current water supply is expected to meet the area’s needs for the next decade only. Continuing drought will create increasingly… View Full Post


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