A bold vision for New Mexico
By: Charles de Saillan, CVNM Board President & CVNM 2020 Legislative Reception keynote speaker
We are facing what many people are calling – correctly – a climate crisis.
Two years ago, in 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report warning us that if we are to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change, we need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half in twelve years. That twelve-year window has already been whittled down to ten years.
The good news is that in New Mexico, we are making some progress towards that goal. In 2019, the legislature and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham enacted the Energy Transition Act. This legislation commits New Mexico to 50% carbon-free energy by 2030, and 100% carbon free energy by 2045. This is tremendous, but we still have a long way to go.
Looking into the future, to the next legislative session and beyond, we will need to redouble our efforts. As we move forward in the coming years, there are a number of things New Mexico needs to do to fully combat the climate crisis:
- We need to transition the New Mexico tax base away from oil and gas revenues.
- We need training and jobs programs for displaced workers in fossil fuel industries. This is especially true in the remote and often neglected corners of the State – communities dependent on oil and gas or coal mining. These communities are usually rural, and they are often Indigenous or other communities of color.
- We need to address water issues head on – water planning, water management, and water conservation – because we will be facing a hotter, drier climate in New Mexico.
- We need to limit greenhouse gas emissions from polluting industries.
- We need to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production. Methane is 85 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. Methane pollution from oil and gas production is one of the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico.
- We need to adopt California vehicle emission standards, so-called “Clean Cars.” Automobiles are another of the biggest sources of carbon emissions in New Mexico.
- We need to modernize and update our building codes to ensure our buildings are energy efficient.
- We need state pension funds to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy and green technology.
- We need infrastructure for electric vehicles, like charging stations.
- We need solar panels on all government buildings.
- We need to replace government and public transportation vehicles – city buses, school buses, agency vehicles – with electric power.
In short, we need a Green New Deal for New Mexico!!
If we are going to succeed in tackling the climate change crisis, and if we are going to continue to protect our air, our water, our land, our wildlife, and our communities, our State agencies must have the financial and human resources that they need to do their job. Over the last several years, because of misguided priorities and fiscal shortfalls, agency budgets were slashed drastically – often to the bone. These budget cuts have robbed the State of its ability to hire and retain quality staff. Many people in State agencies have left government. An immeasurable wealth of expertise and institutional knowledge has been lost.
State agencies need capable staff to adopt intelligent regulations to limit methane and other greenhouse gas emissions, to promulgate clean car rules, to adopt green building codes, and to develop Twenty-First Century water policies. They need capable staff to monitor and enforce critical environmental laws to protect our air, water, land, and communities. In the Legislative Session we have an urgent need to right this wrong.
One last thing I want to mention is the CVNM Scorecard. During the Session, we tabulate the votes and compile a score for each Legislator. We then publish those scores in our CVNM Scorecard. I invite all of you to pick up a copy of our 2019 CVNM Scorecard. You can also check out the Scorecard on our website. Our 2020 Scorecard (for this Session) will be available in the summer.
Thank you all for your support!