TAKE ACTION THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION
By far the most effective action you can take is to communicate directly with your representatives in the NM House and Senate early and often about the bills you care about. We hear that legislators have been inundated by calls and emails, so it is unlikely they will have time to review long emails or messages. However, they do count the number of calls and email subject lines stating support for or against. Here are some tools and suggested language to help you make that quick email or phone call that will make a difference -
IMPORTANT TALKING POINTS FOR PHONE OR EMAIL
Take a moment or two to prepare your thoughts before you call or write.
Identify yourself as a voter from their district and tell them what your priorities are.
Share some reasons why it is important to you that they vote YES on these bills:
The amendments leave the good parts of the ETA intact - the Renewable Portfolio Standard, securitization and Just Transition funds to support affected communities.
The amendments protect us by restoring PRC oversight to determine a just and fair balance between ratepayer and utility shareholder responsibilities when fossil fuel plants are abandoned. NM is the only state that took away regulatory oversight of costs when it passed a securitization law.
The amendments will protect NM ratepayers from automatically shouldering 100% of at least 1.6 Billion for depreciation and an unknown amount for cleanup costs (potentially billions).
New Mexico cannot afford to use our freshwater resources for fracking operations. We are already experiencing drought and aquifer depletion, and a changing climate ensure that will only get worse.
The existing science clearly indicates that liquid fracking waste, or "produced water," is dangerous. It contains high levels of carcinogenic elements, salts and hydrocarbons. Pennsylvania and four other states banned road spreading of fracking waste when these contaminants were shown to leach into ground and surface water.
The act will protect New Mexico people, land and water by minimizing the use of fresh water in oil and gas well drilling, making the discharge or release of produced water illegal, and prohibiting the use of "produced water" for activities unrelated to the exploration, drilling, production, treatment and refinement of oil or gas.
Local Choice Energy will allow any local community in New Mexico to pool their electricity demand and create a local utility. It opens electricity markets to competition and puts local communities in control of who supplies their energy.
Municipalities, counties, and sovereign indigenous nations could put out a request for bids to supply their community with 100% renewable energy and choose the lowest bidder, or decide to produce the renewable energy themselves and then use the profits to lower rates for needy customers or for other community priorities.
In the nine states that have already adopted a form of Local Choice Energy, revenue earned creates local wealth through utility-bill savings for customers, and family-sustaining job creation in renewable industries.
• The Environmental Rights Act proposes to amend our New Mexico Bill of Rights to include an enforceable right of all people, including future generations, to clean air, pure water, a stable climate and healthy environments.
• In addition, the proposed amendment will:
➔ ensure government is focused on prevention of pollution and degradation throughout
➔ provide protection for the cultural indigenous values of our environment, and will recognize the
essential health protections that are provided by clean water and air, healthy soils and
➔ provide a powerful tool for strengthening environmental justice by ensuring the environmental
rights of all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, wealth, address, or generation – are protected
equitably across the state.
➔ ensure all government officials respect and protect our environmental rights including the
legislators, governor, town councils and regulatory agencies.
➔ give residents legal redress to secure restoration of their environmental rights if they are infringed
upon by government action.
• Community solar refers to local solar arrays shared by individual community members who receive credits on their electricity bills for their portion of the power produced. The Act would enable people who do not have the financial resources to install solar panels on their own homes to make use of New Mexico’s abundant solar power with a low-income assistance fund.
• Solar power generation facilities could be constructed and operated by subscriber organizations, which could be municipalities, pueblos, affordable housing providers, nonprofits, community-based organizations, or other entities. Subscribers to such community solar facilities would receive credit for the electrical energy that their subscription generates.
• The power generated by a community solar facility would be fed to the distribution system of a public utility (investor owned or rural cooperative) in whose territory the facility lies.
4. If you have a lot to say, consider signing up for zoom office hours. Covid has few bright spots, but one of them is that you can sign up to talk face to face with your legislator from the comfort of home! Tell them a personal story that informs your priorities. Stories always have more impact than facts.
If you don't know how to contact your representatives, here is the link to look it up.
Thanks to Retake our Democracy for compiling a list of all committees and their contact information here.
WANT TO HELP EVEN FURTHER?
USE THE SAME TALKING POINTS IN A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Writing a quick Letter to the Editor helps to inform others in your community what is happening at the legislature and why they should care. It amplifies your voice and can encourage others in the community to talk to your representatives as well. Here are links to submit your letters:
SHOWING UP FOR HEARINGS
Public comment at committee hearings can be a powerful way to share your personal story or information about why a bill impacts a large or vulnerable section of New Mexico residents. However, the opportunity to have your comment heard depends significantly on the Committee Chair. Some Committee Chairs limit public comment on bills to a certain number for and against, regardless of how much of the public shows up. Some committee chairs limit public comment based on time instead.
On the House side it is easy to access the link to committee zoom meetings through the published agenda, but on the Senate side you must email the committee secretary the day before a hearing by 3:00PM to be listed. Then you wait for a zoom link to join, and even then you may not be heard if public comment is limited. Compared to normal years, this can make it a challenge to participate in the legislative process. On the plus side you don't have to drive to Santa Fe to try to participate.
We don't want to discourage you, however. Even when only a limited number of public speakers is allowed, the chair will often note the number of people signed up to speak for or against, giving committee members an idea of how (and how passionately!) the public feels about the bill being presented. If there is a bill you care deeply about, we encourage you to sign up and be heard, or at least show your support by being present and making the effort. It can't hurt and it is always interesting to see how decisions are made.