The 2023 Legislative Session has officially begun, and there's so much at stake. It was an emotional start as we attended YUCCA (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action)'s action with students from across the state on Tuesday's Opening Day. The group's chants filled the roundhouse as their calls for urgent action and an end to false solutions and hollow gestures echoed off the walls. We felt waves of sadness as the group performed a powerful die-in and recited a eulogy expressing the unspeakable truth of the loss, suffering and death they will experience in their lifetime and the uncertain future they face.
If they have the courage to challenge the injustice of this system, and the willful blindness of New Mexico's leadership, who were celebrating themselves and their fortuitous billions in oil and gas profits just steps away, then we are responsible to join them, to amplify their voices, to remember that it is we adults who are supposed to be protecting the children, and we who are responsible for the system we created. There are seven years left. Let us end our complacency. Let us act like adults and face the crisis we have caused.
LET US ACT!
New Mexico was responsible for more than 500 billion kg CO2e in downstream emissions from our oil and gas exports in 2022, equivalent to 134 coal-fired power plants, and that number is forecast to keep rising. Our impact on this crisis extends well beyond our own energy consumption each year, it extends to the catastrophic impacts of every gallon of oil and every cubic foot of methane that we pump and export each day. The decisions our legislature makes matter more than most, and yet they have failed to live up to that responsibility, perhaps due to the almost $500,000 received in contributions from energy companies and lobbyists in just the past 18 months!
Following the die-in, students delivered YUCCA's legislative demands and personal letters to legislators and to the Governor and asked allies to do the same. We join in solidarity in support of YUCCA's 2023 platform which includes: legislation that will reduce emissions at the speed demanded by science, enforce regulations and accountability for cleanup of the toxic byproducts of extractive industries, invest in a just transition that ensures impacted communities and workers dependent on industry have the education, financial support, and economic opportunities they need, and advance energy democracy in our state.
TOP LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Local Choice Energy - SB166 - The Local Choice Energy Act makes a small but meaningful legal change that would allow local governments and tribes to generate or purchase renewable electricity and sell it to us at lower prices. Local Choice Energy (LCE) legislation is a small but meaningful legal change that would let local governments and tribes generate or purchase renewable electricity and sell it to us at lower prices. Instead of sending profits to Wall Street, Local Choice Energy invests in the resiliency of our communities, providing reliable, cheaper electricity, while creating local jobs and improving local economies.
The primary benefits are: 1. local control 2. ability to move to 100% renewable energy plus storage much quicker 3. lower cost electricity 4. money generated back into the budgets of the municipality/tribe (rather than exported to Wall St.) 5. more resiliency (micro-grid for emergency shelters), greater safety (ie., getting the electricity back on quicker for seniors with dialysis machines if there is a brown-out), more agility (to provide for energy efficiency and other innovative programs like low-income rates, etc.) 6. ability to harness federal funding for this conversion
Advocacy efforts for this campaign are led by the Public Power NM coalition of which we are a part. Join the campaign at www.publicpowernm.org.
Coal Plant & Mine Remediation and Restoration for Public Health and the Environment Act - not yet filed - PNM has closed its flagship coal plant, San Juan Generating Station, and the adjacent San Juan Mine, after 50 years of operation. An independent comprehensive assessment must be performed in order to develop a comprehensive cleanup plan that protects groundwater and the San Juan River from dangerous coal ash contamination. The bill allocates money to NMED/EMNRD to do an independent study of the site, to devise a plan to actually clean up the plant and mine, and to monitor & enforce plan implementation and report back to the legislature on progress.
Climate Action Now - not yet filed - A bill codifying professed emissions reduction goals into state law. New Energy Economy will support this bill if and when it relies on real climate solutions - not market based "net-zero" accounting gimmicks, and sets concrete emissions reduction standards that reverse our emissions and rapidly transition our economy by 2030 - the deadline set by science.
The Public Health & Climate Resiliency Act - SB5 & HB42- A fund to help local communities respond to climate emergencies and a program within the Public Health department to address climate change’s impact on the health of our communities.
Just Transition Legislation - not yet filed - Establishing a fund from fossil fuel revenues to pay for the planning, research, development, and implementation needed to end our State’s dependency on fossil fuels and rapidly transition our economy. Environmental Rights, CA - HJR4 - NM Green Amendment - A constitutional amendment to strengthen and expand the right to clean air, water, and a sustainable climate in New Mexico’s constitution. The amendment would be included in the Bill of Rights section of our NM Constitution and the self-executing amendment would allow legal redress when this right is violated by government action or inaction. Industrial externalities, damaging development, and misplaced government decision-making have allowed the inalienable rights of New Mexico residents to clean air, plentiful and pure water, a stable climate, and healthy environments to be violated. Despite state environmental laws, regulations and agencies, New Mexico water, air, soils, landscapes, and special natural spaces have been allowed to degrade in ways that are harming every aspect of people’s lives.
Allow Paid Legislators, CA - not yet filed - The only state in the nation with an unpaid legislature, New Mexico pays the price in other ways, because a volunteer legislature limits who can afford to run and who can afford to take the time to serve. Candidates must be either wealthy or retired or both, and the people suffer from limited options for representation. This constitutional amendment would transform the NM state legislature.
Legislative Session Changes, CA - HJR 2 - would amend the state constitution to lengthen the even-numbered sessions to 60 days (currently 30 days), allow bills of all subjects — not only revenue and budget bills — and add a 5-day recess in the middle of sessions (after 30 days). New Mexico's short sessions result in debates that are cut short and every year critical legislation introduced stalls because time runs out.
OPPOSING FALSE SOLUTIONS
NO HYDROGEN OF ANY KIND - Currently 98% of hydrogen production relies on fossil fuels and "green" hydrogen created with renewable energy uses precious water resources we cannot afford. Worse, new research finds that hydrogen itself, the smallest element that easily escapes containment and for which leaks are extremely difficult to detect, binds with the same hydroxyl radicals (OH) in the atmosphere as methane, therefore prolonging the life of methane released into the atmosphere! Hydrogen itself could be a dangerous greenhouse gas. This report in the Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that "hydrogen’s indirect warming potency per unit mass is around 200 times that of carbon dioxide and larger than that of methane." Until the science is clear, we cannot gamble with the future. We have real solutions - 100% solar, wind and battery storage.
We hope you will join with us in tangible ways. Sign up to take action if you are ready to lend your presence at committee hearings, whether to speak a few words or to simply raise your hand in support or opposition (via zoom or in person!). Sign up to take action if you are ready to write Letters to the Editor or an Op-Ed, if you are ready to call your Representative and Senator to ask them to take a stand, if you are ready to send an email to your friends and family asking them to take a stand, if you are ready to do more than post on social media, which we know you are all doing already! This fight demands all of us to do more. The children demand that we do more. The earth itself is asking us to act. We just celebrated Martin Luther King day - please make meaning of his words & actions: invite your friends to engage in a new way - no matter your age or circumstance - let it open your heart and mind. Silence is betrayal. Stand up. Now is the time.