Candidate, Santa Fe County Commission D 3

Chris Rivera 
Santa Fe County Commission District 3

Website TBA
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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?

As a County Commissioner I would work with the City's within the county to transition as quickly as possible to all electric fleets. I would also look to working with other governmental entities to support each other and work together to establish community solar and wind farms for renewable energy; initially focused on our most vulnerable communities. All fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs should be converted to LED. We also need to work together to maintain sustainable food and water sources. These items listed are just a few of the issues that can be addressed immediately to meet the goals by 2030. We can do our part in the County by showing that our finances and policies meet and reflect the values of our people.

  • 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?

I am not sure that every political leader believes the science related to climate change are real. There are political leaders that are still aligned with former President Trump who believe that the science around climate change is political ploy. I also feel that there are some political leaders that are fearful of the financial commitment associated with making change and that is why I have a desire to work across what has traditionally been governmental divides. As a former Fire Chief in the City of Santa Fe I have seen the effects of climate change over many years with the change and intensity of forest fires in our country. These changes are real.

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

Again, I believe the financial commitment of our government has to reflect the values of our city, county, state, and nation. All of these governmental entities have established benchmarks to reach carbon neutrality by a certain time frame. What I will do, is work with others to ensure that our finances match what we have committed to do and try to get them done in a time frame that is consistent with our values and promise. We need to act aggressively to reduce our carbon footprint as quickly as possible by 2030 by focusing on renewable energy, purchasing electric vehicle to replace aging fleet, converting all light bulbs to LED's, and to create sustainable food and water sources. These can be done immediately.

  • 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?

First – a Just Energy Transition Fund must be established. Second – we need to take advantage and lobby harder to funds for plugging and abandoning wells. Third – we need to diversify our revenue streams. Nothing will ever take the place of oil and gas financially – but we can create 3-5 new industry sectors to generate enough revenue to thrive in a transition.

  • 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.

We need to ensure that human well being and social equity are at the front of our thoughts and concerns as we begin our economic recovery. We need to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are cared for primarily with infusing federal funds that are being passed down through the state go towards a green economy that utilizes best practices. Examples are establishing community gardens in our economically challenged areas or provide programming to assist with home based gardening. Another idea would be ensure we have plenty of trails and safe paths to get to school and work.

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

I believe we are one of the oldest communities in the U.S. and we have had Indigenous peoples here for many generations working the land and living on what nature has provided. Living within their limits for thousands of years. We need to partner with those that have understood for generations how to live and work of the land and make best use of water and what the land provides can be valuable for all.

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

I do have friends that I can turn too that work for various non-profits in the community that I can turn too for advice. All of these non-profits have worked hard on behalf of all New Mexicans at the state and federal levels to ensure that climate issues have not been forgotten or swept aside. They have also made it their life work to ensure the most vulnerable populations have always been at the forefront of decision making. One such organization is "New Energy Economy"

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

Environmental racism is government, companies and other institutions subjecting a certain group of people to toxins and hazards because policies, rules or laws do not specifically prohibit it from occurring. One example of this is the coal fired plants in the four corners area of New Mexico.

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

As a father of four and grandfather of two, I have a responsibility to leave this earth in a place that my children and their children etc. and live and thrive in. While in office it is imperative that we begin to decrease our carbon footprint by 2030 and that means aggressive measures to move quickly and meet the goals set before us by the community and experts in the field.

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

I do support a moratorium; however, this is not a decision that would be made at the county commission level. I would support, through Resolution, any state sponsored attempts by the Governor or Legislature.

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

Yes, I support a moratorium on new gas plant investment because we are state that has so much potential for renewable energy sources such as solar and wind powered energy. New gas plant investments will simply keep our carbon footprint as it is today and will not help to meet the goals of decreasing green house gas emissions.

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

I do not support nuclear energy. I do not support replacing one bad form of energy with a second and probably worse form of energy; especially in a state where wind and solar are available almost 365 days a year.

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

I would support hydrogen production hubs here in New Mexico because it is a clean source of energy and fuel.

  • 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?

I do support this idea and community solar projects in our most vulnerable populations would be the best place to start.

  • 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! I believe the fossil fuel industry and the utility's have made billions for many years and should be responsible for the clean-up. As a county commissioner, not much authority is given in this area but I would support efforts of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of our state to hold the industry accountable.

  • 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?

I think one of the most important lessons we learned during COVID is that we didn't need to travel to and from places and can still function well in jobs and other areas of life. We saw significantly less flights nationally and internationally and less car travel to work, restaurants and leisure activities. The reduction of green house gasses from this alone is basis for a framework that we can utilize moving forward. Many communities are currently looking at maintaining the work models used during COVID that did not require travel to the workplace and others are exploring hybrid models.

  • 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 am City Councilor in the City of Santa Fe for the past ten years and we have a promise to reduce our carbon footprint by 2040. We do however see the importance of meeting the 2030 recommendations and have begun to do so with various programs within our jurisdiction. Some of our accomplishments are a plastic bag ban, replacing all street lights from incandescent to LED bulbs, replacing older fleet vehicles with electric vehicles, providing more electric charging stations, solar panels at many of our city facilities, establishing and supporting community gardens, diversifying our water resources, one of the best water conservation compliance in the country, automating water meters so residents are immediately aware of leaks and many more

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

Again, as a county commissioner I am not in a position to make this change; however, I believe we need to have a legislature that is paid an annual salary by the public for their service in the house or senate. It would also encourage more people to seek office not just people who can financially afford working for per-diem only. Under the current system it is only the financially stable or retired individuals that can work in the legislature.

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

Again as a county commissioner this is out of my purview; however, I think the state should do more to advertise our outdoor economy. Biking, hiking, camping, fishing, rafting and many more. Hosting outdoor competitive events could bring millions to our state. An example is more soccer tournaments for all age groups and more mountain bike races for all age groups.

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

No

Yes