Too many times have I heard New Mexico scorned as “The Land of Entrapment.” Too many times, as a New Mexico college student, I’ve seen my peers feel as if they must escape New Mexico for better opportunities elsewhere. This is true even when they come from families committed to growing our economy and their parents are local businesspeople, university professors, or even our state officials. To that I say, “No more!” To that I say, “Let our soon-to-be-established New Mexico Outdoor Recreation Division have as its first director someone qualified to implement the Outdoor Equity Fund.” To that I say, “Let this director not lose sight of the true potential of the Division, which is to connect the youth of New Mexico to their natural heritage.”
The Outdoor Recreation Division was established in the last legislative session and its first director is about to be appointed by the Secretary of Economic Development. To fully realize the potential of this new Division, it will take a New Mexican at the helm, baptized in the enchantment of our natural heritage. The director must have the economic savvy for sustainable development of New Mexico’s natural beauty and the capacity to cultivate our young people to be leaders in this $9 billion industry.
SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico environmental advocates say the state took a step forward during the 2019 legislative session by passing bills that address renewable energy and public health, but is lagging in solar-energy development. Conservation Voters New Mexico has released its statewide Conservation Scorecard for the 2019 Legislature. Liliana Castillo, the group’s communications director, noted that shortly after taking office, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham focused on climate change. Castillo said she believes the executive order to place limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-fuel drilling is in line with residents’ priorities. “New Mexicans across the board really care about protecting our air, land and water and diversifying our economy – the things that people talk about are the most important things, right?
At the start of the last Congress, one of the first votes House Republicans took was on a bill designed to unravel protections for workers exposed to chemicals like beryllium. Beryllium is one of the chemicals that poisoned my father’s lungs and caused his cancer. Watching House Republicans vote against the health and safety needs of people like my father in order to placate special interests left me sick. That first vote is indicative of the Republican party. Last Congress, House Republicans raised taxes on and stripped health care from working Americans all to satisfy their special interest donors.
When the public sees news stories of asylum seekers arriving in the United States, they don’t always get the whole picture. The news often fails to cover a core aspect of this situation: the human beings arriving at our border looking for safety and a better future. As an immigrant to this country, I had to overcome many barriers to be where I am today. As a child, I was helpless watching my parents unable to communicate because of a language barrier and we all lived in fear of getting sick because we lacked access to proper health care. Now as an adult, our family feels despair as the president of this country goes on weekly tirades and calls our community criminals and animals.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As summer approaches, adventurers are about to descend on America’s national parks, but Congress has yet to act on legislation that would address nearly half of the $12 billion in overdue maintenance.
The “Restore Our Parks Act” was introduced in Congress with bipartisan support. Marcia Argust, project director with Pew Charitable Trusts, said there are more than 400 parks nationwide, and most of them need repairs – including 16 national park units in New Mexico with $121 million in overdue repairs. “In New Mexico, 2 million visitors are coming to the state each year to visit National Park Service units, and they’re spending over $100 million in local communities,” Argust said. “That’s generating over 1,700 jobs per year.” The Trump administration’s 2020 budget proposes cutting the National Park Service budget by $481 million, even while visitors in 2018 exceeded 300 million for the fourth consecutive year – the highest numbers since record keeping began in 1904.
New Mexico is quickly rising as a clean energy leader. The state had the fastest-growing wind industry in the nation in 2017. The landmark Energy Transition Act signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sets the stage for further economic growth in the clean energy sector and cements New Mexico as a national leader, while the Energy Efficiency Act increases investments in efficiency while boosting the economy through job creation. The story is familiar by now: New Mexicans love clean energy and want to see this industry keep growing to help clean our air and water and to create good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. Here’s the less familiar story: Electric vehicles—which help support clean energy development, local job growth, lower utility costs, and also clean up our air—can help New Mexico rise even higher as a clean energy leader.
Climate change represents one of the greatest security and economic threats our country has ever seen. But our response to climate change can also become the greatest opportunity for economic growth in generations. New Mexico is well positioned to seize this opportunity. Our wind and solar resources are unrivaled, and by transitioning to a 100 percent carbon-free energy policy by 2045, we can become a national leader on clean energy, confront climate change, create new jobs, and attract private capital to our communities. That’s why I’m proud that Governor Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature passed the Energy Transition Act.
Last November, voters cast their aspirations for better government, but the Independent Ethics Commission they enshrined in the state’s constitution won’t be the silver bullet they hoped for in the ballot booth. It’s disappointing, since only 20 percent of citizens think state government is on the right track. It’s doubtful the ethics commission will move current perceptions. The reality is, getting upward movement in these kinds of polls will require leadership and a shift in the public’s mindset that the commission is truly independent.
Ultimately, we think it will be even harder than that since most of us think our district’s officials do a fine job representing our public interests. It’s other district’s state representatives and senators, whom we probably haven’t met, that we need to closely watch, right?
The Energy Transition Act, Senate Bill 489 (SB 489) now inches closer to the governor’s desk –increasing the opportunity for our state to become a clean energy leader. With this bold piece of legislation moving forward, there’s a growing opportunity to diversify New Mexico’s economy by investing to develop our clean energy industry. Most importantly, this represents a chance for every New Mexican family to be able to access the emerging clean, safe, and good paying jobs ensuring our children and communities can thrive. And all the while SB 489 has solidified the fact New Mexicans understand our move to a clean energy world is not a matter of why, rather a matter of when, there have been many questions of how we will ensure to not leave New Mexican communities behind. Knowing workers in rural and indigenous communities continue to have very few choices when it comes to job opportunities and could be left behind as clean energy jobs are created, preparing our workforce for the emerging clean energy economy has become one of our state’s topmost priorities.
I watched the nearly four-hour filibuster from Senator Bill Sharer on the Energy Transition Act from my home in Farmington on Wednesday. The bill passed overwhelmingly, 32-9, with strong bipartisan support. This stunt by Senator Sharer actually provides a window into his behavior over the past year on this piece of legislation and his behavior on the pending closure of the San Juan Generating Station for the past several years. Whether you agree or disagree with the Energy Transition Act, one thing is clear: The looming closure of the San Juan Generating Station has been evident for a long time. Throughout all of last summer, there were deep discussions on this bill—at interim legislative hearings in Farmington, and through a process convened by the Speaker of the House with lawmakers and many key stakeholders.