State agency questions procurement process in energy transition funding requests

Questions about the request for proposals process have delayed the allocation of energy transition funds to projects selected by a state agency, Indian Affairs Department Secretary Designee James Mountain said during an Indian Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday. Mountain said it is prudent and his responsibility to check and see if the process was done correctly. He said his department has questioned whether the awards followed the state procurement code in terms of the request for proposals process. Mountain said the procurement process and codes that the Indian Affairs Department must follow are different from the requirements for the other state agencies that are overseeing energy transition funding. “We’re hoping to get these funds out expeditiously,” he said.

Invenergy official: Planned transmission line will bring economic benefits to New Mexico

The company that hopes to build a transmission line to move wind energy from Union County across the state to San Juan County told state legislators on Monday that it will begin an environmental review process next year and, depending in part on permitting timelines, may be able to begin moving electricity at the end of the decade. Invenergy, which already has developed a wind farm in Roosevelt County, now plans on constructing the North Path transmission line. That transmission line would be able to deliver 4,000 megawatts of clean energy. Officials presented an update on that project to the interim Indian Affairs Committee during its meeting in Santa Fe, which includes plans to begin the National Environmental Policy Act review process. The project will involve two converter stations on either end that will change the electricity from alternating current to direct current and then back to alternating current.

PRC moves forward with hearing process for proposed LNG storage facility in Rio Rancho

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission will hear arguments for and against a new liquified natural gas storage facility rather than accepting a settlement stipulation between New Mexico Gas Company and the PRC staff. The commission voted 2-1 on Thursday rejecting the settlement in favor of moving forward with the hearing process. The commission has until March 2024 to decide whether to grant this request. That timeline was one of the reasons given for accepting the stipulation. The hearing itself in the process will take place Dec.

PRC approves rate credits for PNM customers

Customers of the Public Service Company of New Mexico will likely get some money back on their bills thanks to the closure of the San Juan Generating Station. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission approved a settlement between various parties including PNM on Thursday that sets rate credits for customers going forward. Now it is up to the New Mexico Supreme Court to decide whether to dismiss the case, if PNM files a motion to dismiss. After that occurs, the rate credits could go into effect 30 days after the court order dismissing the case

Cydney Beadles with Western Resource Advocates, one of the parties to the settlement agreement, said PNM is already collecting the necessary signatures to file that motion. “It’s obvious that PNM wants to get this behind them and move forward,” she said.

Lawmakers, community members say RECA expansion is needed to help the ‘unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated victims of the Cold War’

As the years have passed and people have died of cancer, Navajo Nation communities impacted by uranium mining have lost hope that they will someday receive compensation for the medical conditions resulting from exposure to radioactivity, Phil Harrison said during a press conference on Wednesday. “We are here in Washington to tell America how freedom was established,” Harrison, a former miner and a member of the Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee, said. People like Harrison who were exposed to radiation as a result of uranium mining as well as the downwinders who were exposed to radiation after the Trinity nuclear detonation in areas like New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin are closer to receiving compensation than ever before after the U.S. Senate approved an expansion to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act earlier this year as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. 

Now members of the U.S. House of Representatives including Teresa Leger Fernández, a Democrat from New Mexico and James Moylan, a Republican non-voting member who represents Guam, are pushing to have that body of Congress approve the expansion. U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, and Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, hosted a press conference on Wednesday and were joined by their colleagues Leger Fernández, Moylan and Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Missouri, as well as various people from communities impacted by the radiation exposure. Many of the people who attended, including Harrison, wore yellow shirts that read: “We are the unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated victims of the Cold War.”

‘We’re dealing with death’

Harrison said the miners were largely uneducated and couldn’t read and write.

Irrigators in the Lower Rio Grande corridor could be paid not to water their fields

The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission is hosting a series of events to provide irrigators with property in the Lower Rio Grande corridor with information about a groundwater conservation program. The program provides grants to compensate irrigators to voluntarily not irrigate previously irrigated land for two years. The application period opens on Monday and goes through Oct. 16. The information meetings will be: 

3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday as well as 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Village of Hatch Community Center, 837 Highway 187 in Hatch

9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Saturday as well as 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Doña Ana Community College’s Gadsden Campus, 1700 Ohara Road in Anthony.

Biden announces creation of American Climate Corps

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday the creation of a new climate corps that will train workers in clean energy and climate resilience industries. “The American Climate Corps will mobilize a new, diverse generation of more than 20,000 Americans – putting them to work conserving and restoring our lands and waters, bolstering community resilience, deploying clean energy, implementing energy efficient technologies, and advancing environmental justice, all while creating pathways to high-quality, good-paying clean energy and climate resilience jobs in the public and private sectors after they complete their paid training program,” a White House fact sheet states. The climate corps includes an environmental justice focus and will prioritize communities that are traditionally disadvantaged, including those that have traditionally relied on fossil fuel extraction as an economic base. People interested in joining the American Climate Corps or supporting the new program can learn more about it here. The climate corps workers will be paid and must adhere to program standards.

NM advocates join NYC march calling for the end of fossil fuels

Environmental advocates from New Mexico attended a march in New York City this weekend to demand the end of fossil fuel extraction and use. The march in Manhattan brought an estimated 75,000 participants from across the country, including about 50 New Mexicans from a variety of advocacy groups. The demonstration came in advance of this week’s United Nations Climate Ambition Summit, which will be taking place in New York. The group of New Mexicans who participated in the march were led by Indigenous and youth advocates who carried an 18-foot long banner addressing President Joe Biden and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that said, “New Mexico is Burning, Biden and MLG: Climate Action Now!”

“A collective of grassroots movements across the state of New Mexico is joining other frontline movements who mobilize around a No False Solutions narrative to bring light to the financialization and continued commodification of our natural and cultural resources,” Julia Bernal, executive director of Pueblo Action Alliance, said in a press release about the demonstration. “We’re bringing a unified grassroots message to the international platform to demand our elected leaders take bold climate action that doesn’t continue the legacy of harm and extraction that has negatively impacted our ancestral territories for generations.”

The advocates also delivered what they called the New Mexico Declaration for Climate Justice to federal and state officials as well as the United Nations.

DOI announces plans to withdraw lands near Placitas from mineral leasing, including gravel mining

The U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed withdrawing more than 4,000 acres of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management near Placitas from mineral leasing for up to 50 years. The area includes about 3,000 acres known as Buffalo Tract. According to a press release, this move will help “safeguard sacred Tribal lands, boost important local recreation opportunities, and support wildlife habitat connectivity” by preventing new mining claims or oil and gas leasing. The land in question is considered sacred to the Pueblos of San Felipe and Santa Ana and is also a popular destination for hiking, camping, sightseeing and hunting near Albuquerque. It has drawn the interest of gravel mining companies, which prompted calls to protect it.

Report examines economic impact of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument

Since President Barack Obama created the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2014, visitation has tripled and the national monument has spurred economic growth in the Las Cruces area as well as other communities near the national monument, according to a new report. Carrie Hamblen, the president of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce and a state senator, said that prior to the designation the organization contracted a report looking at potential economic benefits if a national monument was designated. The study was conducted by BBC Research and Consulting. The consultants revisited it this year to determine exactly how the national monument designation has impacted the local communities in Doña Ana and Luna counties. Michael Verdone, the director of BBC Research and Consulting, said the economic impacts exceed what was previously estimated by about 50 percent.