Candidate, NM Senate District 9
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?
I will do my best. You have to understand that in a legislature there are many voices and votes and one person cannot always control the agenda or outcomes. I was deemed such a champion on conservation and environmental issues while in the NM House that Governor Bill Richardson had me carry his Cap & Trade bill and I managed to get that bill further than any similar bill in the country that year. It is a process but we are making progress.
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?
I was President (twice) of the NM Renewable Energy Industries Association so I am a huge proponent of clean energy, solar and wind and geothermal and biomass, etc. What the state can do is place solar and energy storage on most if not all state buildings, do energy audits of all our facilities, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet and start diversifying our economy away from oil and gas so we are not as reliant on them.
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?
That is a tough question and there is no easy answer. My goal in office will be to mitigate if not erase the myriad disparities in this state. We have an income disparity, a wealth disparity, education disparity, health care disparity, opportunity disparity. I think one of the roots of ALL of these is our struggling education system. The best start is if we can provide EVERYONE with access to a quality education, particularly in rural and tribal areas, we will make real progress.
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.
I am absolutely open to that. I would want to see the legislation and read the language, but sounds like a real positive idea.
If elected, how will you include Indigenous and traditional land-based knowledge in the development of a sustainable economy for all of NM?
I will listen and respect the indigenous community and seek their guidance in all appropriate policy areas.I tried while in the NM House to start an interim Art, Film and Culture Committee which I hoped would have addressed some of those issues and supported development of those economic opportunities. I will certainly try again in the State Senate to start that same committee.
Who will you talk to about climate issues? Who advises you? What is your plan for community consultation on climate issues?
I have a significant network of climate advisers, both from my time in the NM House and serving on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee to my time presiding over our State's renewable energy industry. I always welcome new ideas and possible directions. I think we have to tackle this as a community, be a team. This planet we call home and our future depend on it.
Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM
I do not have an answer here but would appreciate hearing how you define that. I was speaking with some members of leadership at Sandia Pueblo before this Covid all happened ad we were talking about their challenges in getting enough water for their agriculture. They said that their water table had stopped moving towards the river and was flowing now East towards the pumping station in Albuquerque. So many issues to work on together.
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.
I do not think there is specific generational responsibility as this is a matter of the utmost urgency and ALL of our responsibility. I love the voice Greta and other younger activists are bringing. I think we each need to do our part, everything in our power, Whether you are a farmer with a couple of acres of the President of the United States, we each and every one of us need to be doing everything we can to combat climate change.
A) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas development in the state of New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Not at the moment. Our budget is so reliant on these revenues that it would be deeply harmful to our state and particularity our poorer communities to do that. Imagine if we had to shut down local schools and hospitals and cut local public safety staff. That would be a tragedy. What we need to address urgently is diversifying our economy (agriculture, tech, film, art, health care, etc) and once we are not so reliant on the oil and gas revenues we can start taking steps there.
B) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
In recent agreement NM's utilities have committed to making significant changes to how and where they source their energy. We are looking at very real progress in these benchmarks over the next 20 years. Personally I wold like to make them more stringent and the time-lines quicker, but again we have to work with what is possible in terms of votes in the legislature. The utilities are monopolies in their respective areas now, if we can open that to competition that will drive more solar and wind.
Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?
No. And I am vehemently against the Holtec storage facility being proposed for SE NM. Too dangerous and too many better, cleaner, safer options.
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?
Yes, and that was addressed a little above. We need to pass Community Solar and we also need to look at Community Choice Aggregation where we allow utility competition in all markets. My friend Mayor Tim Keller I know is looking at possibly installing a major solar farm for the City of Albuquerque. There is a lot we can do here but we need to get rid of the conservative coalition in our State Senate who is blocking so much decent common-sense legislation.
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 support it. See above.
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?
I led the fight in the House to force companies to remediate old uranium mines. I will support holding companies accountable for their actions, whether that is unauthorized pollution or environmental spills or other damages.
Do you believe bonding rates for industry should cover the full cost of cleanup?
I do not know enough about the specifics here nor the fiscal impacts to give an answer.
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?
Again, until we diversify our economy and revenue sources, they are an important part of how we fund education, health care, public safety, infrastructure.
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?
That we all need to work together. That we need to leave any egos or financial interests aside (see Republican Party leadership and their complete selfish and ignorant failings during this worldwide Covid crisis) and just focus together as a community to do the right thing.
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 think my experience in the NM House will be invaluable in continuing to fight in our Senate for stronger environmental protections. I am the only candidate in the election with a proven voting record. I am open and accessible and value the community's input and participation in all these issues. Again, this is something we have to do together.
What are your ideas to loosen the grip of industry on the state legislature and strengthen our democracy?
I think as they contribute less and less to our annual revenues their influence will likewise wane.
Name specific alternative sources for state revenue that you'd pursue and propose if elected
These are such difficult times and I am not interested in raising taxes, so the solution here is to improve our education system to provide our young people greater opportunities, improve our health care system and coverage (making sure no one is without access to health coverage during this Covid crisis), rebuild our infrastructure, and support local businesses in growing and expanding NOT throwing big money at out-of-state corporations who "may" bring jobs. Thee is no simple quick fix here.
Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? Yes/No
Will you take the #fossilfree pledge?