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Those who are responsible must be held accountable

All of us are grieving the loss of the beautiful forests that have nurtured us, provided us with water, with shade, with the deep sense of awe that gives meaning to life. Some of us are grieving more. Some of us are grieving home, ancestral lands, a rural life that is likely now gone forever. Paula Garcia wrote so beautifully in her Santa Fe New Mexican Op-ed:

The people are devastated. We lost more than a beautiful landscape. We lost a place that will live only in our memories, and we lost a way of life. These mountains are the homeland of the families who live here and of a diaspora of generations who consider these valleys and mountains their ancestral home. The villages and small ranches of Mora and San Miguel counties are the last refuge of the rural poor. Many of the people affected by the fires live in modest, uninsured homes on lands inherited from past generations or small lots where until recently it was possible to carve out a place to survive as a low-income family. The loss is immeasurable.

We join Paula in calling on the federal government to be held accountable for their failures and to provide those who have been displaced with resources to repair their lives. We call too, for our national and state leaders to be held accountable for their failure to act with urgency to reduce climate warming emissions. All of us know that the ultimate cause of the terrible destruction we are witnessing is the continued wanton burning of fossil fuels, with no end in sight.


Even as our state burns, PNM has appealed the PRC's righteous decision denying PNM's request to extend the burning of coal through the sale of its shares in the Four Corners Power Plant to NTEC, the coal supplier that has a vested interest in keeping the plant open as long as possible. Yesterday we filed our brief at the NM Supreme Court in support of the PRC's ruling - arguing:

1. that PNM's failure to submit adequate replacement power proposals defies the law and precedent that exists to prevent unjust rates and reliability problems, and

2. that the sale of the plant to NTEC violates the spirit and the letter of the ETA, which forbids the sale of any carbon emitting resource as a means of complying with Renewable Portfolio Standards, and

3. that a prudence decision must be made before any abandonment and securitization of costs is approved to prevent a "grave injustice," the foisting of up to $150 million of imprudent costs onto ratepayers.

The time for burning coal is over.


The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Plant, the largest nuclear power plant in the U.S., is running out of water, and in the face of strenuous objection they have now withdrawn their 2019 application to pump groundwater from the Phoenix area. Palo Verde is the only nuclear plant in the world not adjacent to a large body of water to cool the plant. Instead it uses reclaimed water piped more than 35 miles across the desert, using about 65 million gallons of treated wastewater every day - more than 23 billion gallons a year. We are experiencing severe water shortages, threatened water quality and in the arid Southwest we are in the middle of extreme drought. Additionally, water is getting more expensive. The treated water that PNM and other PVNGS owners are currently using cost $53 an acre-foot in 2010. It will cost $300 an acre-foot in 2025, and starting in 2026, water rates will be set using a tiered formula, rising with water use. One acre-foot is approximately 326,000 gallons, or enough water to supply three single-family households in Phoenix for a year.

To keep the plant economical, the Arizona utility commission is exploring technologies to use water more efficiently, but the reality is that nuclear energy and an arid desert landscape don't mix. We hope that regulators and decision makers will see the writing on the wall and recognize that nuclear energy is not the answer. Mark Jacobson's groundbreaking research proves that 100% solar, wind and existing battery storage technology is the solution we need and is available right now.


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