Candidate, NM House of Representatives, 22

Augustine Montoya

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  • If elected, what specific policies will you pursue in 2023 to begin rapidly transitioning our economy to achieve carbon neutrality in the timeframe set by the world’s leading scientists?

It is an imperative that we work to achieve carbon neutrality in America and there are numerous means of achieving this. However, for my campaign I will focus on efforts that transition our state away from its dependence on the fossil and fuel industry. To begin, I want to increase the GRT received from other sources, such as cannabis, to stymie fossil fuel’s immense presence in the state’s budget. I further will work to advance the states usage and retention of renewable energy. New Mexico House District 22, for example, could introduce industries that manufacture the parts for windmills. Thus, introducing another means of green energy that reduce the percentage of GRT received from fossil fuels.

  • Do you agree with climate scientists that the brunt of the impacts we face due to climate change will be put on those who contributed the least emissions? (The global South, Indigenous, and low-income communities)

Yes 

  • Do you agree with climate scientists that greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed within 8 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?

Yes

  • In your opinion, why do political leaders set benchmarks and timeframes for emissions reductions that do not comport with climate science mandates?

In my opinion, it is an effort to serve special interests (fossil fuel industries and companies) that donate large sums of money to keep these politicians in office. However, it goes further than this and could also be linked to the disbelief that America and other developed countries are contributing, both directly and indirectly, to a global crisis.

  • If elected, what will you do differently than current leadership?

I will follow the science and professionals in the field to develop policies that work toward our shared goal of reaching carbon neutrality. Furthermore, I commit to utilizing my understanding and work experience in environmental science and water & land conservation to pass policies that are in the interest of protecting our environment for years to come.

  • 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?

To ensure that our transition is equitable and fair, I will propose legislation that will secure jobs for our fellow New Mexicans. As a state legislator I understand two things. One, our state is a minority-majority state, meaning that we must prioritize our local workforce and not outsourced workers from other states. Two, we must assure that our transition does not stymie economic gains for our state budget. To accomplish these tasks, I am committed to ensuring that our transition also phases out GRT from fossil fuels by replacing its immense contribution with other, diverse, industries. One primary example is the cannabis industry that is projected to bring billions in Gross Receipts Tax to our people.

  • If elected, will you support the creation of a Just Transition Study & Fund to identify alternative revenue sources for our state budget and allocate funds from oil and gas directly into community-driven climate mitigation and adaptation strategies? Explain.

In short, yes. Per my last answer I aim to utilize my capacity as a legislator to support the creation of such a study and to work in unison with professionals to identify such funding.

  • If elected, how will you include Indigenous and traditional land-based knowledge in the development of a sustainable economy for all of NM?

As an heir to 4/5 of the Land Grants - Mercedes in my district I understand the necessity that we have to include indigenous and tribal leaders in this process. It is my intention to seek our these leaders and elevate their voices by allowing them to take charge of these necessary actions (Executing on the Just Transition Study and Finding alternative energy sources).

  • Who will you talk to about climate issues? Who advises you? What is your plan for community consultation on climate issues?

It is my task, in running for this position, to develop coalitions of people that include experts and citizens to develop the agenda. I aim to utilize this campaign to draw interest and expand these coalitions. Furthermore, I aim to include YUCCA and other quality organizations in my efforts to develop coalitions that guide my decisions relating to legislation.

  • Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM

Environmental racism is the destruction and exclusion of BIPOC people from accessing and utilizing the environment in which they live. My district provides a primary example of environmental racism. In an effort to move water in the direction of big money, local elected officials have worked to steal the water and lands granted to land grants by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Furthermore, through these efforts BIPOC people have been forced out of their home lands and have been prevented from using the resources that they maintain primogeniture rights to.

  • What is the responsibility of your generation to the youth and future generations while in office? Explain.

As a member of Generation Z it is my obligation to bring our concerns to the table. I understand that I am one of very few (I believe 2) Generation Z candidates running for office. As a result, it is imperative that the concerns we, as a generation, have for our environment, economy and education are brought to the forefront of legislation and conversation.

  • A) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas development in the state of New Mexico? Why or Why Not?

Yes, I believe that the leases we have now must be phased out and future wells prevented from being drilled. I believe this, because it is my observation that through the legalization of cannabis, and other industries, we are at a moment in time to phase out fossil fuels and replace their contribution to the state budget with a diverse set of GRT from our economy.

  • B) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?

Yes, but not at this time. I believe this because it is an immense infrastructural overhaul for our state to transition homes to renewable energy. This is why I take a phased approach to this transition. Rather than generating a moratorium that stops gas plant investments immediately, it is my observation that by 2040 we should have ability to divest and transition our economy and infrastructure completely.

  • Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?

I need more information on nuclear energy. I have concerns about its sustainability. However, I will take directive from YUCCA and other professionals and organizations.

  • Do you support the development of Hydrogen Production Hubs here in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?

No, it is my observation that it is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. I believe that we must completely transition away from fossil fuels.

  • Do you support community ownership of energy where Cities/Counties/Indigenous Nations are able to own, produce, and sell electricity to residents and keep energy dollars local?

Yes. 

  • 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?

As the Committee Assistant (CA) for HENRC I neared witness to Rep. McQueen’s legislation calling for such responsibilities to upon the industry. As a result, I aim to partner with other legislators and Sponsor and Co-Sponsor legislation that holds the industry to account. Additionally, I plan to partner with organizations that work in this field to develop legislation that has the teeth necessary to hold these companies to account.

  • Do you support utility bill forgiveness for low-income New Mexicans who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis?

Yes

  • 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?

That America needs to get its act together. As of current our infrastructure is not built to handle a true crisis. We observed this in education, as it relates to broadband internet. We bear witness to a pandemic that exploited faults in our healthcare, economy, infrastructure and government overall. We can utilize these trials and tribulations to build a better tomorrow. We must begin now.

  • 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?

I have worked for the Soil & Water Conservation Districts, on and off, over the past six years. As a result of this work experience I am able to advocate for my communities from a place of sincere understanding of what our environment is asking for. I additionally majored in Biology and Biomedical engineering my first year of college. This education is a very limited understanding of how long I studied environmental science, but is a more formal provision. Next, I was born into a fuel-firewood business. Through this business, we have contracted with the US Forest Service and other state organizations to protect and conserve our forests. This all was put to use over my four years of community organizing and advocacy for our environment.

  • What are your ideas to loosen the grip of industry on the state legislature and strengthen our democracy?

1. Public Finance Campaigns
2. Restrict the contributions that can be made by companies and special interests in elections (do away with Citizen’s United)
3. Require industry to contribute, equally, to environmental conservation efforts and the effort to reach carbon neutrality.

  • Name specific alternative sources for state revenue that you'd pursue and propose if elected

Cannabis, renewable energy and manufacturing industry

  • Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? Yes/No

No

Will you take the #fossilfree pledge? http://nofossilfuelmoney.org/politician-signup/

Yes