In this post
Sharing our update from the heart -- still no response on our proposed amendments from the "coalition"
We stand with our Indigenous partners - read the powerful statement on the bill from more than 30 indigenous leaders released today
See you tomorrow in Senate Conservation Committee: TIME CHANGED to 9:00 AM Tomorrow [2/23] for SB489 Hearing, Room 322 - arrive by 8 for a seat
LISTEN to a rebroadcast of our 2/21 webinar on SB489 webinar begins at 2 minute mark, you will need to enter your email address to access.
Senate Conservation Committee Hearing on Senate Bill 489, Energy Transition Act, has been moved to 9AM!
For people who want a seat, we ask you to be there by 8AM. We are hearing that PNM plans to pack the room and you will not get a seat if you're late.
WHAT: Senate Conservation Committee hearing on SB489
WHEN: Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 9:00AM (arrive by 8 for a seat)
Wow, what a week y'all! And it's not even close to over yet. Our staff of six has been exchanging late night texts with funny vids like this...
...because we're pretty much working around the clock and it's exhausting and stressful.
It would be exhilarating -- we all love our work -- but for the fact that we are being attacked by former friends and allies and, rather then getting to focus on the awesome bills in our legislative platform (Community Solar, Competitive Procurement, and Local Choice Energy), we are having to work nonstop to put the brakes on a dangerous bill and steer the ship to safety before it's too late.
We've been getting tons of emails from supporters of all kinds. Many who are confused by the mixed messages and opposing positions of trusted environmental organizations. Many who are wondering who is behind the Cleanandhealthynewmexico.com paid advertisement campaign and the NEE smear campaign that's attempting to paint us as blood-thirsty PNM haters.
While it's been painful to have former friends attack us, our commitment to integrity and truth-telling is unwavering. We're focusing our energies on doing what we do best -- digging for the facts, speaking the truth, even if it's unpopular. Despite the hype, we are not the only one concerned about this bill -- not by a long-shot.
Many of our colleagues -- other lawyers practicing utility law on behalf of interested parties, renewable energy business leaders, grassroots leaders from indigenous and environmental justice communities, PRC staff and Commissioners,, and groups around the country (who are wondering about the securitization proposals being pitched by utilities in THEIR areas) are asking serious questions and have identified serious flaws in the current draft.
Last Friday, we requested and held a meeting with proponents of the bill to share our concerns and explore openness for amendments. Sierra Club, 350. org, NRDC, Environment New Mexico, CVNM, IFPL, San Juan Citizens Alliance and Sponsor Representative Small obliged. These groups had a hand in writing some of the language in the current bill - many of the others who have signed on, have not. During the meeting, NEE and several other concerned parties reviewed the stated intentions of the bill that we support. We asked to make sure we were getting the stated intentions correct. We heard, in the affirmative, that we were. Their claims that we double checked were:
"Nothing in the bill favors PNM ownership of replacement or any other energy." - when asked if the bill intends to uphold competitive procurement and protect competition - the answer was yes.
"The bill in no way encourages more nuclear."
"The bill makes it harder for PNM and EPE to pursue more gas because of the RPS standard"
"The bill maintains PRC authority"
We then talked about the areas in the bill where our reading of the language in the bill failed to line up with these claims. We requested that we work together to make a bill we could all support that truly achieved these stated intentions. We said we would get them amendments and asked for their help taking those suggested amendments to the Governor and the sponsors. Decisions about this bill are being made by the administration and have excluded our and many other voices.
We submitted our proposed amendments on Monday to the Governor, Bill Sponsors, groups leading the coalition, Senate Majority Leader Wirth, and House Speaker Brian Egolf. We asked that they respond by Wednesday so that we could get together if need be to hammer out some of the language changes before the Conservation Committee meeting on Saturday.
So far, we haven't heard anything back - only the public emails from some of these groups blasting us for raising these issues. The unfortunate thing is that we've been raising these issues since the summer and rather than giving us the opportunity to work these issues out before the bill dropped so that we could all go at this with a unified front, we were never shown the bill until after it was made public.
The process of this bill's development has been extremely problematic since it's beginning.
Our indigenous and environmental justice partners have released a beautiful and powerful open letter entitled: "No Just Transition Without Indigenous Consultation". It begins:
"We ask allies to stand with Indigenous Peoples and not the Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM). Energy policy decisions directly and disproportionately impact our communities.
Our ancestral lands in the Four Corners region was officially designated a national sacrifice zone by the Department of Energy under the Nixon administration in 1973.
Since then we have experienced high levels of extraction activities including the siting of five coal plants, four coal mines, and thousands of oil and gas drill pads. Being from frontline communities, we bear the biggest impacts to our health and the devastation of our land, water, air, plants and animals.
In an era of climate change we must stand united for a Just Transition that is inclusive of all Indigenous communities. Without amendments, we do not support The Energy Transition Act (SB 489)."
Read the entire letter HERE. It is a most powerful rallying cry, and the amendments called for are righteous and very much worth supporting - even if it means slowing down the process.
The letter, which provides an analysis, fact sheet, and necessary amendments for the bill from an indigenous perspective, is signed by more than 30 indigenous and environmental justice leaders. Among the signatories are Council delegate Daniel Tso from Eastern Agency and Shiprock Chapter House President Chili Yazzie - both represent communities in the Four Corners area that have been directly impacted by fossil fuel extraction but were not consulted on the contents of this bill.
"New Energy Economy stands in solidarity with the indigenous communities who are the original keepers and protectors of the land, water, and air in New Mexico.
We stand with them when they say they will not support a bill about the future of their communities that was derived without community consultation, when they say that they will not support a bill that strips their communities from the regulatory protections against more gas and the purchase of nuclear and enhances PNM's monopoly ownership, when they say that they will not support a bill that does not fully address the needs for cleanup and corporate accountability.
We stand in solidarity with indigenous communities who are facing the consequences of our energy usage when they ask us to stand with them.
One of our key operating principles is the belief that the public should have full access to the best information we all can provide - so that you can make up your own mind. We hear you about the technical nature of the material - NEE has made public our comments and proposed amendments on the actual bill [PDF] - so you can see exactly where the issues lie.
and don't forget to CHECK out VIDEO rebroadcast from last night's webinar. After you enter your email address, you will receive a link by email to view the webinar.
We are doing our best to stay focused on the actual issues. We and other concerned parties have made a gesture to resolve our issues with the bill, we have proposed solutions, and the ball is no longer in our Court. It is our hope that the Governor, bill sponsors, and the environmental groups leading the charge will carefully review and consider the actual language changes we have proposed and respond before we are left to battle this out in Committee.
Please urge them to do so. No matter what please join us at the Senate Conservation Committee Meeting tomorrow to stand up for the protections and process we all deserve as we approach this most important moment in New Mexico's energy future.
Finally, please contact our Governor, your Senator and Senate Majority Floor Leader, Peter Wirth to express your opposition to SB 489 in its current form.
please include Senator Wirth in your correspondence:
Senator Peter Wirth - (D) - Majority Floor Leader Office Phone: (505) 986-4727 firstname.lastname@example.org
"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will."