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.

Fight Climate Change on 10-10-10!

By Tracy Dingmann

Looking for something to do on 10-10-10?

How about a 10-10-10 Cut Carbon Rally where you can hear about the latest in the fight against climate change and pick up practical tips to help you do your part?

The rally is part of a series of nation-wide events on 10-10-10 organized by pre-eminent environmental writer, educator and researcher Bill McKibben, author of “The End of Nature” and “The Age of Missing Information.”

In Albuquerque, the rally will take place from noon to 2 p.m. in the Simms Auditorium at the Albuquerque Academy, 6400 Wyoming NE.

It’ll start with an indoor program with speakers, including New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, New Energy Economy director John Fogarty, Native American environmental justice activist Louise Benally, Art Gardenswartz and others. There will also be video addresses by McKibben and New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman.

During the second hour, people will have a chance to visit informational booths and to participate in workshops on how to compost, how to caulk and weatherize their homes as well as how to write letters and call elected officials to support reductions in carbon emissions.

It’ll end with a bike raffle at 2 p.m.

Come out and celebrate the day in an educational yet fun way!

News About Kirtland Jet Fuel Leak Is Spreading

A few significant things have happened since we last wrote about the decades-old Kirtland Air Force jet fuel leak that’s threatening to contaminate a major municipal water well in the city of Albuquerque that serves neighborhoods near the base and some parts of Ridgecrest.

New Mexico Environment Department officials estimate the underground spill of toxic jet fuel could be as much as 8 million gallons. Jet fuel is a known human carcinogen.

On May 10, the state Environment Department denied the Air Force’s request for 45 extra days to submit a report detailing its plans for dealing with the spill.

As John Fleck of the Albuquerque Journal reported, the state will require the Air Force to submit a report on July 7 showing how far the contamination has spread. Two other reports will be due on June 22.

“Urgent action needs to be taken to address this threat to Albuquerque’s drinking water supply,” James Bearzi of the New Mexico Environment Department wrote in response to the Air Force request for a 45-day extension. The state department has complained about the Air Force’s pattern of frequently missed deadlines in the past.

On May 20, the Air Force held a meeting with residents of the area near the spill to discuss its plans for cleaning up the spill and controlling its spread. Air Force commander Col. Rob Maness told KOAT-TV that the Air Force promises to do more to stop the spread of fuel to municipal wells. The Air Force has already spent $10 million on the leak.

And on May 12, New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman voiced his support for holding the Air Force responsible for cleaning up the spill and expressed concern about the possibility of it contaminating Albuquerque’s underground water resources.

“Clearly the Air Force is responsible for cleaning up that spill, and I will support whatever is determined to be the right level of resources to get that done,” Bingaman told a New Mexico reporter in an interview last week. The interview can be found on Bingaman’s Senate web site.

The senior senator from New Mexico is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He took the question about the Kirtland spill amidst a number of questions from New Mexico reporters about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Kirtland jet fuel spill is now firmly on the radar screen of all the entities needed to make a real difference. Let’s hope all the increased media attention and public concern inspires the state to show even more muscle in forcing the Air Force to take responsibility for the leak and keep it from reaching our drinking water.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Climate Change

Are you a New Mexican who’s confused about all the information swirling around out there about climate change and clean energy policy? Would you love it if you could learn more about these pivotal topics from people who really know what they’re talking about?

If so, than you should know about an event happening Friday, March 12 at 2 p.m. that will give New Mexicans the details they need to know about climate change.

As part of a national “Let’s Talk” initiative designed to connect campus to congress, professor Bruce Milne and the University of New Mexico’s Sustainability Studies Program will sponsor a statewide conference call with the offices of New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. The conversation on climate change is being coordinated by the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

While the call is designed to connect campus to the Senate, any and all interested community members are welcome to send in their own questions and join the call too.

Friday’s call will begin with a briefing by a New Mexico student discussing current statewide engagement on campus with climate issues. Call conveners will then discuss positions on clean energy and climate policy from Senators Bingaman and Udall. After these two introductory briefings, they will then respond to student questions and concerns.

Anyone who is interested in being part of this critical educational dialogue on climate change should start by submitting questions to climate@bard.edu and then by calling (712) 432-3100, code 253385 at 2:00pm MST on Friday, March 12th. Those wishing to submit questions can also Click here.

For more information on the Let’s Talk initiative, follow the Bard Center for Environmental Policy’s Twitter feed and  Facebook page!