Cue the scene from Jurassic Park: A distant, muffled whump stops males, ladies and youngsters of their tracks and raises eyebrows to a top simply wanting panic.
I heard that noise Thursday when a information alert flashed on my display: “GM To Part Out Gasoline Autos, Signaling a Seismic Shift of Auto Business.”
A couple of minutes later, it acquired nearer.
“GM to cease making gas-powered automobiles and SUVs by 2035.”
Oil and gasoline, the blood and oxygen of New Mexico’s economic system, could also be going the best way of the dinosaur. Not as a result of we don’t have sufficient of it: Southeast New Mexico sits atop a Mariana Trench of the black goo or black gold, relying in your perspective.
However when Normal Motors publicizes to the world that the interior combustion engine is headed for the Smithsonian, supplanted by electrical energy and batteries and an entire new solution to get from Level A to Level B within the common passenger car, the whump isn’t a couple of miles away.
It’s right here. Proper on our tailpipe.
If this had been simply one other hare-brained thought from GM, the corporate that after gave the world the Chevette, that’d be one factor. However it’s not. Gasoline-powered autos have been an endangered species for years. They’re solely sturdy at present as a result of we haven’t but made the conversion from gasoline station to energy station. However that’s coming, too.
Chevy has the Volt. You’ve seen the Tesla. Maybe you examine Ford’s declaration that it could start producing an F-150 pickup — the state animal of New Mexico — with an electrical energy plant by 2023.
What occurred final week was simply the ultimate beat of the large bass drum, or no matter sound results Hollywood used to create the whump.
I carry all this up as a result of it occurs to be late January, the annual kickoff to the let’s-raid-the-permanent fund debate.
You recognize the Land Grant Everlasting Fund: the fats, $22 billion wad of money simply ready to be plucked, most not too long ago for the good thing about New Mexico kids who cry out for an early training system that can put them on the street to success.
To which I say: Go for it.
Look, I’ve acquired no downside with siphoning off some everlasting fund income for early childhood teaching programs. With regards to fixing New Mexico, you’ve acquired to begin someplace, and it’s not going to occur with conventional strategies. We’ve confirmed that for many years.
However in taking cash out of the everlasting fund, fueled largely by revenues from oil and gasoline, it’s completely very important the state begins interested by a world by which oil and gasoline gives rather a lot much less income — each short- and long-term.
We’ll cope with long-term first.
There are lots of people who don’t need the fund touched as a result of it’s simply human nature to safeguard that which has taken years to construct. I’m not saying that makes for good public coverage, not to mention a folks music, nevertheless it’s actual realpolitik. And the reality is, the intuition to guard is one purpose the everlasting fund has gotten to $22 billion.
However there are others who merely fear concerning the fund’s viability if oil and gasoline present diminished monetary return. Assuming oil revenues dwindle in ensuing a long time — I’m strapped to determine how they’d develop in a world of electric-powered automobiles — a lot will rely largely on managing the everlasting fund’s corpus nicely amid the vagaries of the inventory market.
That’s a harmful recreation, notably if you wish to see the fund as a magic wand that may erase a giant downside — in New Mexico’s case, an overlapping and cascading set of issues — over and again and again.
Twenty-two billion seems like a ton of cash, and it’s — nevertheless it’s solely equal to 3 years of the state funds. It’s large, however not limitless.
Nobody goes to cry for Large Oil. No one cries for Large Something. However the easy truth is that this: Bear in mind within the early months of COVID-19 when the bean counters had been fearful about having lower than $6 billion in income for the 2022 fiscal yr? Pure catastrophe.
With out oil and gasoline, or with out a alternative, that type of nightmare will merely be often known as the state funds. Yearly. And that second, due to the ever-forward push of know-how, could possibly be right here before we expect. It may be right here the following time you stride onto the lot, then zoom away in a spiffy F-150 with an electrical motor.
Phill Casaus is editor of The New Mexican.