Candidate, NM House District 70
Do you agree with climate scientists that we are facing a climate emergency?
Do you agree with climate scientists that greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed within 12 years in order to achieve carbon neutrality in time to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees and to avoid catastrophic runaway climate disruption?
In your opinion, why do political leaders set benchmarks and timeframes for emissions reductions that do not comport with climate science mandates? If elected, what will you do differently than current leadership?
In my opinion, I believe the difficulty in setting benchmarks is because there are many other community related factors and influences that have to be considered. In New Mexico we are historically dependent on oil and natural gas for our economy, our workforce, and community support in some areas. If elected, I will work towards an effective transition to cleaner energy that will work towards meeting mandates, but will also seek to build a related workforce and economy.
If elected, what specific policies will you initiate in your first year of service to begin transitioning our economy to net zero carbon emissions in the timeframe set by the world’s leading scientists?
In my first year, I will support the Energy Transition Act and current recommendations as part of our commitment in joining the US Climate Alliance. The current decline in oil and gas prices and our cost in response to the current pandemic should lend to a more progressive legislative body that has to address current needs. I will support revenue diversification with the promotion of renewable energy and responsible agriculture; groundwater management; and zero-emission vehicles.
What measures will you propose and advance to ensure that economic recovery and the transition to a green economy fosters equity and economic & racial justice?
A green economy should enable communities to manage their natural resources more sustainably. This comes with integrated policy making between affected parties and a framework that combines environmental, equity, and economic objectives. Policies need to support the local communities that are affected and understand economic disparities within our state. Any regulations that come with a personal cost are going to have to consider that many New Mexicans may not be able to economically comply.
If elected, will you support the creation of a Just Transition Study & Fund to identify alternative revenue sources for our state budget and invest in community-driven climate mitigation and adaptation strategies? Explain.
Yes, it is extremely important to consider community factors in any new potential major industries. The "Just Transition" principle looks holistically on our revenue streams to strive to be a regenerative economy source. Any industry will not succeed without considering and involving the community.
If elected, how will you include Indigenous and traditional land-based knowledge in the development of a sustainable economy for all of NM?
New Mexico is rich in our history of indigenous people that have sustained our lands by understanding the importance of preserving our resources and using them to provide for their communities. I am proud to come from a family with deep roots to my Northern NM community. As a commissioner on 2 local acequia systems, I see the value in preserving cultural knowledge for future use.
Who will you talk to about climate issues? Who advises you? What is your plan for community consultation on climate issues?
I currently work with NM MESA, a non-profit STEM program. For the last 17 years, I have had the opportunity to participate and/or facilitate many programs related to environmental education. This has allowed me to gain a holistic perspective of our environment and impacts/benefits of industry to it. I am also currently endorsed by the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club and Conservation Voters of New Mexico. All of these things have given me invaluable resources and trusted colleagues.
Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM.
Environmental racism is where communities of low socioeconomic groups and often communities of color are negatively impacted by environmental hazards. Often they are targeted because regulations and advocates are not in place to protect these communities. Residents often see opportunity in the short term, but these projects have long term impacts. In my district, the Terrero Mine and its mill along the Pecos River was one of the most damaging projects that is still in remediation.
Do you believe climate action is an issue of intergenerational justice? What is the responsibility of your generation to the youth and future generations while in office? Explain.
Yes, it will take all generations working together to create effective climate action. I consider myself a mid-generation where I can see where we have come from, but fully understand that we have a responsibility to preserve our Earth. I think we have a responsibility to accept that climate change is real and is here! We have a responsibility to change our mindset and recognize new opportunities for economic growth. And, we have a responsibility to set in motion action.
A) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas development in the state of New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
I want to be clear that I am open to this idea, but there are other issues that impact this decision. Gas Development has proven negative long-term effects, but until we have a sustainable alternative energy grid, we are reliant in some degree on current areas where we have extraction. I do support additional investigation and impact studies into any new site. Once we have a more diversified energy portfolio, I would support a moratorium on all development.
B) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
I support the Energy Transitions Act which will look to transition our Energy source(s) in New Mexico. With that, I would support a moratorium for utilities as the law requires that 50% of electricity be generated from renewable resources by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?
I think there is potential for nuclear energy. It is a much cleaner form of energy and could be a way to attain energy security while minimizing emissions. The French energy policy is a great example of the potential for nuclear energy. But, to attain that security, attention needs to be placed on radioactive waste management and on guidelines for energy policy and security.
Do you support a competitive energy market where Cities/Counties/Indigenous Nations are able to own, produce, and sell electricity to residents and keep energy dollars local?
Some communities utilize this model with water currently as there is not a statewide grid available. Pros of this system are that energy dollars could be kept local. But cons to this system are that the maintenance and sustainable cost are also kept local so an infrastructure would need to be in place to support this move long term. Also, if this model was used, communities would need to consider how to replace revenue that is dependent on taxation and supplied such as education funding.
Community Solar legislation has been brought up multiple times in the last few years. What is your position on community solar and what will you do to ensure that community solar is prioritized and passes?
I would support community solar. I believe it has had difficulty passing as many of our other systems and norms are placed in our current model of a single utility provider versus a community model which provides energy, assumes costs, and also provides revenue. For this to pass, further investigation needs to happen to ensure that this would indeed lower emissions, be a cost savings to our communities, and a plan in place to transition from our current model.
What do you believe is the fossil fuel industry/utility’s responsibility for cleanup and how as an elected official in the public office for which you are running do you plan to hold industry accountable for pollution and cleanup?
Yes, site abandonment is a very real possibility which will leave New Mexico with a sizable reclamation cost. I believe any activity that could result in a negative environmental impact should have financial guarantees and plans in place for long term mitigation. If not in place, they should not be allowed to operate.
Do you believe bonding rates for industry should cover the full cost of cleanup?
We have seen the oil industry collapse over the last month, with oil prices nosediving. Given our current situation and the danger our state’s budget is in, how do you see the role of oil and gas corporations in New Mexico’s future?
I definitely see the role changing and an opportunity for emerging energy alternatives and cleaner extraction for current corporations. As pressure continues for higher environmental standards to battle climate change, I believe oil and has companies will need to adapt to survive. Some corporation are switching to becoming "energy" (instead of just oil and gas) providers and are currently investing in diversifying their energy portfolio. And all corporations are working to meet standards.
Do you support utility bill forgiveness for low-income New Mexicans who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis?
Some are saying that COVID-19 is the dress rehearsal for the climate crisis. In fact, in many places throughout the world, the two are compounding crises. What do you think we can learn from the COVID-19 crisis when addressing the climate crisis?
I think it shows that we have the potential to change up our current business model and social structure. With an adequate technology network in place we can work towards less vehicle emissions and corporate waste. We have learned that science is real and experts should be valued to avoid a crisis that halts the world. And, while in a "time out" we have learned how efficiently our earth can recover if given assistance.
Describe your previous experience working on social/health/environmental issues, do you have experience working with impacted communities to co-develop solutions? How will you use this experience to tackle the climate crisis?
Working for a non-profit organization, I have spent my career advocating for equity and access in education. Our organization works with under-represented youth to ensure opportunities and provide resources to encourage success. Majority of our programs are in rural and under-served areas. Tackling the climate crisis will require purposeful sequential action and engaging our communities. This experience grants me perspective and understanding of the needs of our different communities.
What are your ideas to loosen the grip of industry on the state legislature and strengthen our democracy?
First, we need to elect officials that truly act on behalf of all New Mexicans. Second, we need to diversify our revenue stream so that we are not so dependent on any single industry. And lastly, we need to look at our regulations and taxation so that our codes reflect our democratic values.
Name specific alternative sources for state revenue that you'd pursue and propose if elected
Diversification is critical. I think we need to invest in other areas of industry that have immediate potential for grown such as alternative energy, agriculture, tourism, marijuana legalization, aerospace and defense, distribution and transportation, manufacturing, digital media and film, and federal government support. Long term, we need to create a workforce through education that is attractive to business and prioritize tax reform.
Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? Yes/No
Will you take the #fossilfree pledge?