In case you missed it, last week the country of Colombia announced that they will stop all fossil fuel drilling. This is what courage looks like! This is what it means to reckon with the science, to accept reality, and to take leadership in a crisis to protect and care for the people. Because yes, we are in a crisis, and failure to take bold action will cost more in both money and lives than NM leadership has thus far been willing to demonstrate.
Some governments take reality seriously: New research finds human activity has caused temperatures in Greenland to rise far beyond levels seen in the 20th century. The study in the journal Nature found that without immediate action to stop global heating, Greenland’s melting glaciers will raise sea levels by 20 inches by the end of the century, flooding coastal communities around the world. Researchers studying ice cores found first decade of the 21st century was the warmest for Greenland’s ice sheet in a thousand years. Temperatures in some parts of Greenland now average 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Human-caused climate change fuels wetter, warmer, stormier Arctic.
Colombia's environment and energy ministers, both women with backgrounds as activists, have been assigned the task of reimagining Colombia’s economy without it. “Because of our dependence on fossil fuels, we’ve set up the economy to fail if we don’t change it,” Susana Muhamad, the environment minister, said. Colombia’s government has pledged it will no longer award new contracts to drill for oil and gas, as President Gustavo Petro seeks to fulfill a campaign promise to transition Colombia away from fossil fuels.
MEANWHILE, HERE IN NEW MEXICO...
BERNALILLO COUNTY PASSES UNANIMOUS RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF SB165 LOCAL CHOICE ENERGY!
Last night Bernalillo County, New Mexico’s largest county, joined communities and organizations across the state calling for state legislators and the governor to pass the Local Choice Energy Act. A resolution in support of the legislation, sponsored by Bernalillo County Commissioner Eric Olivas and Commission Vice Chair Adriann Barboa passed unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting. The Local Choice Energy Act will empower counties, municipalities, and tribes to generate or purchase renewable electricity and sell it to residents within their jurisdictions at lower prices. As Commissioner Olivas put it:
This is an important signal for us to send to our legislators in Santa Fe that the Bernalillo County Commission stands behind this tool in the toolbox for increasing access to green energy, increasing access to all forms of renewable energy through Local Choice Energy… This is something that been deployed with great success in a diversity of states. This isn’t really a conservative/liberal issue. This is really an issue of choice and using market forces to shape the electricity market and bring down prices, increase reliability, and increase the amount of renewables on the market… We’re in crisis with our climate… There’s any number of things that we need to act on urgently, and this is one tool that we can use to help move the needle in that direction.
Bayard and Hurley, small rural communities in the mining district in southwestern New Mexico, were the first communities to unanimously pass resolutions in support of the 2023 Local Choice Energy Act. Santa Fe County, Grant County, and Las Cruces will consider similar resolutions in support of the legislation in the coming weeks.
Local Choice Energy faces an uphill battle in Senate Judiciary, so we need your help! Please click the link below to send letters to committee members, and then send the link out to everyone you know!
CLICK HERE TO EMAIL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
SAN JUAN CLEANUP BILL HEARING SATURDAY 9:00AM ON HB142 - USE THIS LINK TO SEND LETTERS AND SHOW UP TO COMMENT
On Saturday at 9:00AM the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear HB142 - the Generating Facility and Mine Remediation Act. PNM has closed its flagship coal plant, San Juan Generating Station (San Juan) and the adjacent San Juan Mine (SJM), after 50 years of operation.
The San Juan plant and mine are contaminated with open wastewater pits and at least 59,000,000 tons of Coal Combustion Residuals, aka coal ash, stored in unlined pits, making the likelihood of leaching from these waste contaminants foreseeable.
Coal ash is incredibly dangerous. Short-term exposure can bring irritation of the nose and throat, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure can lead to liver damage, kidney damage, cardiac arrhythmia, and a variety of cancers.
Industry data from more than 548 disposal units at 292 power plants and offsite disposal areas found that 91% of coal plants are contaminating the groundwater with unsafe levels of toxic contaminants from coal ash in ponds and landfills. Contamination may go undetected in nearby private wells for years, because most coal ash pollutants have no telltale taste or color.
In light of the history of toxic substances leaching from coal ash improperly disposed by PNM at the San Juan plant and mine, an independent assessment, transparency and oversight are critical to ensure that timely actions are taken to protect the watershed, and the communities that rely on it, in perpetuity.