Youth Voice Rings Loud at the Roundhouse For New Mexico Youth Alliance

By Anthony Fleg

SANTA FE – On Wednesday, Jan.  the New Mexico Youth Alliance (NMYA) brought a strong message to our state’s legislators: Support our youth!

NMYA brought youth from across the state to get a closer look at how business is done at the NM State Legislature. Ironically, in the days prior to this event, Senate Bill 158 was dropped by Senators Lynda Lovejoy and Paul Bandy, proposing to terminate NMYA altogether.

The bill calls for a Government Restructuring Task Force, doing away with many committees, councils, and boards formed under Bill Richardson’s administration.

On Wednesday, young people spoke to their respective legislators to request that the NMYA be removed from the chopping block in the bill.

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Heinrich to Legislature: Make New Mexico a Clean Energy Capital

By Claus Whiteacre

Congressman Martin Heinrich spoke to a joint session in Santa Fe this yesterday and expressed his appreciation for the work performed by one of the few remaining citizen-legislatures in the country.

His speech reiterated much of what senior New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman said last week in his address to New Mexico lawmakers regarding the importance of federal funding for the state’s economy.

Where Heinrich diverged from Bingaman was in how New Mexico can improve its economy and create jobs by becoming a clean energy capital.

He used the Bell Group’s unveiling of their solar array last year as an example of local technology and jobs that should be the way of the future.

To fulfill that vision the local workforce must be trained; which starts by strengthening math, technology, and engineering skills in our young people.

Strikingly, it appeared that some Republican lawmakers were not interested in hearing from our national representatives. As during the Bingaman speech,  a notable number of them were absent from the floor.

Smoking Emails Show Martinez, Dairy Industry Collaborated to Block Dairy Regulations

By Tracy Dingmann

A public information request has unearthed state emails showing that lawyers working with former New Mexico Lt. Gov. and current dairy industry lobbyist Walter Bradley helped write the executive order that halted a number of environmental regulations shortly after Susana Martinez became Governor on Jan. 1.

The emails also show the dairy attorneys advised various state officials to prevent certain rules from printing so they would be subject to the Governor’s executive order.

First, The Executive Order

Martinez issued the order minutes after she became Governor, halting all “proposed and pending rules and regulations” for 90 days pending review by a “small business-friendly task force.”

Her order put on hold a number of recently-adopted regulations, including state rules regulating water pollution by dairies and a cap on carbon emissions. Those regulations had been passed, but had not yet been printed in the state register – so, the Martinez administration maintained, they were not yet law and thus were subject to the executive order.

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New Mexico Supreme Court: Governor Cannot Trump Law

Governor Susana Martinez’s attempt to do an end run around the New Mexico State Constitution was blocked by the Supreme Court today.

Here’s the press release from New Energy Economy (NEE), the organization that filed the lawsuit against the Governor:

New Mexico Supreme Court: Governor Cannot Trump Law

Decision Favors Pollution Reduction Policy to Strengthen Economy

Santa Fe – In a stunning blow to the inexperienced administration of GOP Governor Susana Martinez, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Governor Martinez violated the state Constitution when she prevented a rule reducing carbon pollution from being published as codified state law. The lawsuit was filed by nonprofit New Energy Economy and reflects growing claims that Governor Martinez arbitrarily and illegally sought to suppress the rule in an attempt to appease major carbon polluters who contributed heavily to her gubernatorial campaign.

‘We are prepared to continue fighting, and winning, against all challenges to New Mexico’s carbon pollution reduction rule. The scientific and economic facts are clearly on our side,’ stated a triumphant Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy. ‘We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling today and will redouble our efforts to transform this culture of litigation into a culture of investment in creating family-supporting jobs for New Mexicans and an enduring legacy for future generations.’

New Energy Economy led a two-year public deliberation process that resulted in the carbon pollution reduction rule being adopted as official state law by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board. The rule requires facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon pollution per year to reduce these emissions by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels starting in 2013. The rule enables effective and economically efficient carbon pollution reduction that will spur job creation, investment and innovation across New Mexico’s economy, particularly the energy sector. The rule will increase jobs and revenue among oil and gas producers as well as boost momentum in the state’s emerging energy efficiency and renewable energy industries.

‘Governor Martinez attempted an end run around the Constitution at the request of major polluters,’ stated Bruce Frederick, staff attorney from the New Mexico Environmental Law Center who filed the lawsuit on behalf of New Energy Economy. ‘Her attempt to prevent the carbon pollution rule from becoming a valid state law is highly illegal and cannot be tolerated in a democratic society.’

New Mexico’s carbon pollution reduction rule and related documents available at: www.newenergyeconomy.org

Public Will Get Chance to be Heard on PNM’s Proposed 25% Residential Rate Hike

by Tracy Dingmann

Are you ready to pay 25 percent more for the same electric service?

Less than a year after two consecutive rate increases, the Public Service Company of New Mexico is planning to ask the Public Regulation Commission for permission to approve a whopping 25% rate hike for residential customers.

The electric company says it needs the money, despite reporting profits of nearly $150 million and paying dividends to shareholders in excess of 30% in 2009.

If regulators cave to what PNM wants, they will have raised PNM’s rates by 50% in just three years.

And don’t forget that while PNM’s top execs take home six-figure bonuses, the electric company has slashed its workforce by 15%.

When will it stop?

If the PRC rolls over to PNM’s increase request once again, what incentive will PNM have to exercise fiscal responsibility or good corporate citizenship?

Any time it under-budgets, or is fined for pollution violations, or manages its business poorly, it won’t be PNM’s shareholders or execs that feel the consequences. PNM can simply raise rates and pass its mistakes, bad management, and poor judgment on to PNM’s customers – who are held hostage to PNM’s profiteering.

In these economic hard times, when so many New Mexican households are struggling simply to keep their homes and put food on the table, a 25% electric rate increase is an outrage and an insult. It’s already happened twice in the last three years. Tell the PRC that under no circumstances can it happen again!

You’ll get you chance to speak up tomorrow (Wednesday, January 26) at 2 and 6 p.m. at the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall, 310 San Pedro NE at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Why Gov. Martinez Should Support a Tax Expenditure Budget

By Claus Whiteacre

Everyone in the Roundhouse, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology, appears to agree that it’s time to quit stalling and do something about the state’s recurring budget problems.

Gov. Susana Martinez and some others blame the budget’s problems on unnecessary spending and waste.

For some reason, that camp is oblivious to the recession that has raked the world economy for the past few years.

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Gov. Martinez Sued Again in State Supreme Court

Gov. Susana Martinez

By Tracy Dingmann

The head of the state Worker’s Compensation Administration has filed suit against Gov. Susana Martinez in state Supreme Court, saying she is breaking state law by attempting to remove him from office before the expiration of his five-year statutory term.

In a suit filed Jan. 14, Albuquerque attorney Glenn R. Smith says Gov. Martinez has no authority as governor to remove him from office before his term ends in January 2012.

Smith, a former Deputy Attorney General and special counsel to the Attorney General, has been director of the Worker’s Compensation Administration since Gov. Bill Richardson appointed him to the position in January of 2007. He was confirmed by the state legislature.

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Camino Real Decision Shows New Mexico is Open For…Out of State Trash?

By Tracy Dingmann

Environmental groups and residents of Sunland Park, N.M. were swift to express their keen disappointment today at the state of New Mexico’s decision to grant the Camino Real landfill a 10-year permit.

Residents of Sunland Park have long said they don’t want the landfill in their midst and say they are worried about known and unknown factors affecting their health and quality of life. The landfill sits atop one of the largest aquifers in the Southwest and is suspected of affecting the purity of the drinking water it provides.

“We are extremely disappointed that Governor Martinez and Secretary-designate Martin chose to side with corporate polluters instead of protecting families in Sunland Park,” said Michael Casaus, a senior field organizing manager with the Sierra Club. “Elected officials should step up their efforts to protect New Mexico’s precious clean water supplies, instead of increasing profits for out-of-state corporations.

“Over 90 percent of the waste that ends up in this landfill comes from outside New Mexico, primarily from Texas. This ruling sends a clear message that not only is New Mexico open to business, as Governor Martinez proclaimed in her recent State of State Address, but is apparently open to out-of-state trash as well,” said Casaus.

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Sen. Bingaman Speaks to State Legislators about Federal Funding Challenges

Sen. Jeff Bingaman

By Claus Whiteacre

Legislative members convened in the House chambers today to listen to an address by U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Notably absent were some Republican senators, who remained in the Senate chamber and held an impromptu mini-caucus as Sen. Bingaman spoke.

In his address to state legislators, New Mexico’s senior senator spoke of the similarities between the challenges facing the New Mexico legislature and Congress in Washington D.C.

“New Mexico relies on both government and the private sector to create jobs.” said Bingaman.

Bingaman went on to list a large number of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects and the associated federal funds that have flowed into the state over the last couple of years.

While that funding will no longer be available, Bingaman assured the audience that New Mexico will continue to receive large amounts of
federal dollars, including money for the national laboratories to use to modernize the nuclear arsenal and comply with the new START treat and  funds for the Airforce Advanced Research Lab to develop “plug and deploy” miniature satellites.

The challenge will be to make sure that the work on energy research continues at the labs and does not get overshadowed by the lab’s new responsibilities, he said.

While most states are looking at losing military funding in the coming years, Bingaman said that New Mexico should see a steady and
continuing increase.

NMED Approves 10-Year Permit for Camino Real Landfill (w/Document)

By Tracy Dingmann

Word comes from Santa Fe today that the New Mexico Environment Department has approved a 10-year permit for the Camino Real landfill in Sunland Park, N.M.

The decision by the Martinez Administration caps a decades-long struggle by the people of Sunland Park against the landfill, which takes in most of its trash from Mexico and the nearby Texas city of El Paso. People who live in the community say they don’t want the landfill in their midst and fear it has adversely affected their health. For more background on the landfill, go here.

Clearly New Mexico will have more information on the story, including comments from some of those involved, later today.

Here is a copy of the decision made today by Environment Secretary designee F. David Martin.