The Carlsbad region was poised to send $3 billion to New Mexico coffers, thanks to one of the biggest oil booms in history. Then came COVID.

On a Thursday in late May, Michael Trujillo sat in the slightly softened evening light and watched his three children play in the water at Lake Carlsbad Beach Park, an unexpected patch of blue in the Chihuahuan desert. With his pit bull puppy at his feet, Trujillo passed slices of pizza from a stack of three Little Caesars boxes to two men in camp chairs. All three are oilfield workers, Carlsbad natives and, unlike thousands of others in the industry, all are still employed. But that hasn’t relieved their anger at the New Mexico governor and her coronavirus shutdown orders. “She needs to open the place up and let us do what we need to do,” the 36-year-old Trujillo said. 

Like a lot of people in town, Trujillo wishes Carlsbad was in Texas. 

This story originally appeared at Searchlight New Mexico and is republished with permission. In that state, just 40 miles to the south, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t order a COVID-19 lockdown until April 2 and allowed businesses to start reopening by May 1.

Another look at New Mexico’s lack of oil inspectors

In part two of her two-part story on the effects of oil and gas in the New Mexico Oil Patch, Margaret Wright mentioned the need for additional oil and gas inspectors. Jim Winchester, the spokesman for the state’s Environment Department and the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Division (EMNRD), emailed Wright about the lack of funding for oil and gas inspectors in the state. From Margaret’s story:
The Environment Department is asking the Legislature for a budget increase this session, he says. OCD is also requesting money to add hire another nine inspectors, “to provide increases in the number of inspections on active wells, plugging wells releases, remediation of spill sites and overall environmental compliance. This response includes all counties in New Mexico.”
She went on to note that there are just 14 inspectors for the tens of thousands of drilling facilities in the state.

Far from heaven: Fatalities, crime and rents rise alongside oil production

© New Mexico Political Report, 2015. Contact editor@nmpoliticalreport.com for info on republishing. Part two in a series of two. Click here for part one. On a two-lane New Mexico state road, the number of heavy commercial trucks and semis roaring southeast between the villages of Loving and Jal tops 200 in under an hour.