from the New Mexico News Connection - A Statewide News Service for New Mexico
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Topping off the tank is getting more expensive, critics say, as drivers pay for their fuel in two places. At the same time drivers are paying at the pump, according to the Progress Now New Mexico Education Fund, taxpayers are giving $4 billion a year in tax breaks to the oil and gas industry.
The nonprofit group calls attention to these tax breaks in a new radio advertising campaign. Its executive director, Pat Davis, says the ads point out that one New Mexico congressman has supported the breaks eight times since February 2011: Republican Rep. Steve Pearce.
"We hope that Congressman Pearce will get to hear from constituents who know there are bigger problems right now than oil and gas profits. Hopefully, they'll have that conversation with him, and we hope to change his mind."
Davis says his group wants to get people thinking about whether it's appropriate to be offering tax breaks to for-profit companies, when that money could be used instead to spur the economy by helping green industries and hiring more people in local businesses.
Ariel Bickel of central New Mexico says she tries to work as much as possible from home to avoid the pain at the pump. She believes many people suffer from high gas prices in silence, feeling that there isn't anything they can do to change them. She hopes the radio spots will convince them that they have some power on this issue - as voters.
"What really upsets me is, I think there's preying on the despair of people to promote this wave of anger that's misplaced. This is why getting the truth out about the issues is so imperative."
The group Taxpayers for Common Sense has a list of 14 oil and gas tax breaks, with names such as "percentage depletion allowance" and "intangible drilling costs." Together, it says, these amount to more than $2.5 billion each year.
Beth Blakeman reporting