Renewable Energy – Linchpin of Recovery: The New Mexico Experience

Faren DancerBy Faren Dancer

Here in New Mexico we are banding together while bracing ourselves for the demanding pull of the political pendulum. In the few short weeks of her oil and gas backed regime, Governor Susanna Martinez has caused many persons of basic sensibility to lapse into bewilderment. Is she fully desensitized to our basic needs of clean air and uncontaminated ground water or merely the mouthpiece of corporate interests? Or is she a true believer that our oil driven consumer society is as American as Chevrolet and must be preserved at all costs? All of the above? Of course we know that General Motors is not your most sustainable corporate model and the oil and gas industry, despite its current prominence and power, has a limited shelf life.

Beyond the Governor’s snappy little narrative about green related programs and environmental protections being bad for business, she goes about proposing major reductions to the film industry incentives that could very well bring down New Mexico’s third largest industry, one that provides jobs and stimulates local businesses throughout the state. Her immediate dismantling of the Environmental Improvement Board, who had based their decision to propose a carbon cap for New Mexico on hundreds of hours of public testimony, showed an utter disdain for the great environmental work that had been carried on here for many years. Representative Brian Egolf’s Pit Rule legislation, passed in last year’s session, requiring oil and gas drilling companies to line the pits where their chemical laden drilling remnants have shown to contaminate ground water, is now being threatened by Martinez. Is it such a high price to pay for these corporate conglomerates to pony up an additional 2% in operating costs to prevent poisoning our aquifers? We can only scratch our heads as the answer is… Apparently so.

As we move into the 2011 New Mexico Legislative session, priority number one for many politically active environmental organizations is to help convince the State Senate to reject Governor Martinez’ nomination of Harrison Schmitt as Director of the New Mexico Department of Energy and Minerals. With a long career of public service, this former astronaut is, in a sense, still walking on the moon. From his perspective it is unconstitutional to incentivize renewable energy, and simultaneously, if we attempt to unravel the government’s mega supplementation of the oil and gas industries, the good old pals of governments far and wide, that too would be unconstitutional. And, he believes that climate change has nothing to do with human behavior. So let’s visualize his defeat in the Senate. If, by chance it doesn’t happen, I plan to invite Harrison Schmitt along with NM Representative Brian Egolf, Chair of the House Energy Committee, to air their contrasting perspective on GREEN TALK RADIO. Some people have encouraged me to find ways to spice up the show.

New Mexico State Representative Mimi Stewart, District 21, has served in the State Legislature for 22 years. Her dedication and commitment to the environment and the citizens of New Mexico is heartfelt and profound. I was amazed to learn not long ago that New Mexico is the last remaining citizen legislature in the nation, meaning that it is entirely a volunteer endeavor. While appearing on GREEN TALK RADIO show recently, Mimi described two current Legislative bills she’s been developing, her Homeowner Association Act has been in the works for the past six years. The bill is designed to regulate Homeowners Associations in New Mexico for the first time. After sitting through several public hearings in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, I personally concluded that most associations operate in a fair and ethical fashion, but the inequities are numerous and widespread. For example, some association boards find ways to reappoint themselves into perpetuity and leave homeowners out of the voting process all together. Another aspect of the bill is designed to address solar and water rights issues, ultimately prohibiting HOAs from unreasonable restrictions.

Mimi is also spearheading the High Performance School Buildings Act which has evolved through a 50 state outreach program of the United States Green Building Council. The potential impact of retrofitting 720 schools in New Mexico would create thousands of green collar jobs, save the state millions in utility costs, avert millions of tons of carbon emissions and produce far healthier environments for our children, teachers and state employees.

Unicopia, Inc., a public benefit non-profit organization is dedicated to the evolution of sustainability within our culture. Along with the educational and informational outreach on important environmental issues, policies and science, green net-zero energy building models and corresponding online building science courses, Unicopia promotes the most important awareness of all…sustainable thought. The understanding of the power of our thoughts and the practiced ability to stay out of fear, while constantly imagining and envisioning the future we wish to live, is the key to our ultimate sustainability.

Please tune into GREEN TALK RADIO each week an AgeNation Radio, and you can also contact Faren at faren@unicopia.org

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