Thanks to all who attended Wednesday’s Oral Argument before the Public Regulation Commission on PNM’s imprudent investments in Palo Verde Nuclear!
It makes such a difference to pack the usually empty chambers with active and engaged stakeholders who not only care about the issues but are tracking the cases! We were just thinking back about how 5 years ago, when we started to really intervene in PRC cases, this technical world of energy regulation was left to the lawyers and regulators -- with virtually no presence or scrutiny from the public. Now there’s a whole army of us - who are paying close attention and using our voices to advocate where we can. It’s pretty cool! Thanks for working with us to put the Public back in the “Public Regulation Commission”!
Mariel was wearing both her lawyer and advocate hats on Wednesday when she started out her oral argument by honoring the losses suffered as a result of the corporate irresponsibility, environmental racism, and nuclear disaster at Churchrock 40 years ago. Not only was it important to point out the devastation inflicted upon the Diné people by nuclear extraction but also to point out this unacceptable example of corporate malfeasance - as the site remains contaminated forty years later and there is no answer for how the health and environmental impacts will be addressed and how justice will be served.
The case has garnered national media attention. Check out the Associated Press story in U.S. News and World Report.
The extraction, processing, use, and disposal of nuclear resources pose extreme and insanely long-lasting health and environmental risks. AND, nuclear is THE most expensive form of energy on the market today -- 4 times more expensive than solar & wind. It was very disappointing that the Coalition for “Clean” and “Affordable” Energy - (representing the Sierra Club, 350,org, Environment NM) argued that nuclear energy must be embraced in order to reach carbon neutrality.
While neither the Church Rock mine spill or nuclear’s alleged carbon benefit were points with legal relevance to the case, these are relevant issues as we consider whether it is acceptable to us that 30% of our energy portfolio is generated from nuclear energy. New Energy Economy’s position is certainly that we must divest in nuclear and end our role in propping up an expensive, resource-intensive, and dangerous industry and this informs our positions in all cases where Palo Verde investment are in question.
However our weapon, given the current laws, is cost. And on the question of financial prudence, the PRC and the Court have already sided with NEE and deemed PNM’s investment imprudent. Mariel reminded the Commission that given this definitive finding, the Commission must now work to hold New Mexico ratepayers “harmless”.
Given the affirmed imprudence finding, the Commission has no way to hold ratepayers harmless unless the PRC determines how nuclear compares to other available and feasible alternatives and what the comparable prices are. By sending this question back to the PRC Hearing Examiners on the case, the Commission will be able to suss out if ratepayers have overpaid, in which case PNM should reimburse ratepayers. And, if these resources are “cost-effective”.
This is critical because all of PNM’s resource planning (as reflected in their Integrated Resource Plan, their recent Abandonment filing, and their work on the Energy Transition Act), all presume the inclusion of their nuclear lease purchases. If they do not meet the legal standard of cost-effectiveness, PNM will very likely be sent back to the drawing board on a number of proposals.
Of course, we already know the nuclear lease-purchases aren’t cost-effective. This image of PNM's emails (below) is the extent of the shopping around they did for us.
Now we await the PRC’s decision.
In the meantime, you can still call your regulator and tell them what you think of PNM's imprudent investments in nuclear.
In 1990! Environmental Justice Groups wrote an Open Letter to the Big Greens Demanding they take responsibility for the impact their policy decisions have on communities of color.
Thirty years later, grassroots, frontline environmental justice community groups and many of those same big green environmental organizations have reached an historic consensus. This week, seventy-four co-authors and inaugural signatories published The Equitable and Just Climate Platform.
This Platform is a critical guide to ensure that national proposals such as the Green New Deal as well as future state-level proposals like the contentious Energy Transition Act center the needs and demands of frontline indigenous communities, communities of color, and working class communities.
We have signed on to the platform and the shared vision to call for national and state level climate action that confronts racial, economic, and environmental injustice as it enacts deep cuts in climate pollution and accelerates a pollution-free energy future that benefits all communities. Two guidelines articulated in the platform are particularly relevant to many of our current legal battles and consistent positions on the issues:
“A national climate policy agenda that addresses climate pollution must not abandon or diminish the important goal of reducing toxic pollution in all its forms. Climate solutions must be part of a comprehensive approach to reducing legacy environmental and economic impacts on communities and be designed intentionally to ensure that they do not impose further risks.” “It is imperative that programs and initiatives to protect and redevelop the environment promote community wealth building and economic diversity that directly benefit local community residents.”
Learn more and reach out to organizations you support and ask them to sign on to the platform, here https://ajustclimate.org/