State senate candidate has big plans for future of local area

Question and Answer

William V. Palmer is a Lovington oil and gas company owner, operator and investor. He has announced he will run as a Republican for State Senate District 42, which covers Curry, Lea and Roosevelt counties. The seat is currently occupied by Gay Kernan, also a Republican, from Hobbs.

Q: Tell us a little about your background.

A: My parents were Bill and Pearl Palmer and I was born in Roaring Springs, Texas, a town of about 250 northeast of Lubbock. I’m the second youngest of nine children. I grew up working in the oil and gas fields, farming cotton and raising cattle. My dad was a farmer-stockman who worked in the oil fields to help pay for those other activities. Unfortunately, he died while I was in college and I returned home to help support my family.
My wife Shelly is my high school sweetheart. We married when she was 19 and I was 20. I supported her through college by working in the oil field. Today, she’s a teacher. Bit by bit, over time, I got my college degree, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I’ve worked for Read and Stevens, Inc., of Roswell, since 1994 as superintendent of their oil and gas field operatings, including procedure design. I also own Cactus Operating Co., an oil and gas investing company.

Q: How did you get involved in politics?

A: I’ve been interested in politics my entire life. I was mayor pro-tem of Rule, Texas, a little town north of Abilene, when I was 23 or 24. In 1999, when oil and gas had hit rock bottom, I was involved with Concerned Citizens for Energy Policy, which worked to raise awareness about the plight of our industry. I spoke at the Roundhouse and helped advance legislation that got some tax relief for oil and gas from the state.
I was vice chairman of the state Community Development Block Grant Commission under Gov. Johnson and I’m chairman of the Water Reclamation Committee, operated by the Lea and Carlsbad soil and water conservation districts.

Q: What do you think is the most important issue facing eastern New Mexico?

A. Primarily water. Eastern and southeastern New Mexico needs a strong voice. It will take people going to Santa Fe who will say, “This is what must be done.”
On the Water Reclamation Commission, we’ve been looking at technology to reclaim water from oil and gas drilling. We can clean it up and use it, for agriculture, even for drinking. This (technology) excites me for Curry County and Roosevelt County, because there’s a huge underground aquifer, below the Ogallala Aquifer. It’s brackish water, but it can be cleaned up, too.
The oil and gas industry produces 42 million gallons of water every day. Once it’s cleaned up, it becomes a commodity and we can sell it. We can improve the oil and gas industry’s bottom line, and agriculture’s bottom line. I would push for incorporating this technology, getting that water on agricultural land. But it will take some statutory and regulatory changes. Right now, the state Oil Conservation Division has authority over the water that comes out of drilling, but the State Engineer has control over underground water.

Q: Are you saying you want to take control of that water away from the State Engineer and give it to the Oil Conservation Division?

A: It doesn’t have to be changed, but I want some clear parameters established about … actual installation of these facilities. I don’t see oil and gas producers installing these facilities if, once the water is cleaned up, you say, “Thanks for cleaning up my water.”

Q: What do you think about the Ute Water Project?

A: Do you mean the pipeline? If that’s the most economical way to get water to eastern New Mexico, let’s do it. If it can be done in conjunction with other methods, let’s do them all.

Q: What other issues are important to you?

A: The next most important, for me, is economic expansion. I’m extremely interested in the economic growth and expansion of our communities, particularly our small communities. Of primary importance to that is the growth of roads and highways. Roads are important to all aspects of our economies — you can’t get a dairy’s milk to the processing plants without roads.

Q: Do you have a position or positions on education?

A: I’m a strong conservative. I wrote letters against Gov. Richardson’s Amendment No. 2, which raids our permanent fund, purportedly to get money for education. There’s no guarantee, by the way, that education will get more money from that amendment, because legislators may say, “Well, you’re getting money from the permanent fund, so we’ll cut your money from another source.
My wife’s a teacher and I think we need to return more classroom control to teachers, along with more control over the curriculum. There’s nothing wrong with a little swat on the tail. A little posterior pressure has been more conducive to educational progress than any other method.
I also think we’ve got to take power from the state and give it back to our local school districts.

— Compiled by CNJ Staff Writer Jack King