Candidate, US House of Representatives, NM CD2

Darshan Patel      patelfornm.com
55a32b8e-e24c-4981-997d-8722dfcd1cde-PATEL_DARSHAN-6653-1821_x_1821.webp
  • 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?

I would be a vocal proponent of the THRIVE Act, and its components - as they are the types of bold investments and shifts that we will need in order to achieve carbon neutrality.

  • 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?

Our politics are corrupted by money and special interests. Without campaign finance reform, elected leaders and candidates from both major parties will continue to be beholden to the largest donors over the greater good. Instead of ushering our communities through the needed difficult conversations and challenges, like pursuing robust green transition, political leaders are settling for incremental gains. Unfortunately, climate science tells us otherwise.

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

As a physician scientist, I will respect the world's experts and activists and confront the most difficult challenges that we face as a society head on. I've been on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic in New Mexico, and I've seen how disinformation impacts our communities. We cannot be afraid of bold leadership, as this is what our moment requires. Climate change is real, I accept the IPCC report and will advocate for a just transition to a green economy.

  • 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?

There must be deliberate investment in the frontline communities that have borne the brunt of the harmful impacts of climate change, in an effort to correct systemic racism and environmental injustice.

  • 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.

Yes. I will support this effort from the federal level.

  • 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 respect tribal sovereignty and have true tribal consultation at every level, ensure that the US federal government is upholding it's trust responsibilities and obtain informed consent from Tribes for all investments that effect them.

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

Climate change impacts everyone, and every issue facing policymakers in some way. I am informed by science, community leaders and neighbors at every level about the urgency and the need for bold leadership.
 

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

Environmental racism occurs as a result of deliberate policies and actions that disproportionately harm communities of color. In NM, the location of uranium mining operations in and around native communities and the lack of investment for decades in containment and cleanup of waste is an example of environmental racism in our state.

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

Our leadership must be driven by the hope of a better future for our youth. In that vein, our youth, their perspectives and their future must always be central in our decision making.

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

Yes, because that is what it is going to take to meet our necessary climate goals.

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

Yes, because that is what it is going to take to meet our necessary climate goals.

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

Not in it's current form. I support innovation and research in how to safely store nuclear waste, and in safer more cost effective methods of harnessing nuclear power.

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

I do not, as there is no guarantee that the we will produce "green" hydrogen. We need to focus on renewable, trusted, researched sources like wind, solar and geothermal energy.

  • 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. I also support investment and transition to public utilities.

  • 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 would advocate ending subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. I would not accept political contributions from fossil fuel interests. Similarly to how we have stood up to big tobacco, we need to hold the most profitable industry on earth accountable for the harms they have been party to.

  • 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?

As a physician who has been on the frontlines of the COVID 19 pandemic in New Mexico, I am afraid that we are not learning the most important lessons from the national calamity we have experienced. Disinformation has seeped in to every aspect of our society, and instead of relying on evidenced based decision making and trusting in science, some give credence to conspiracy theories and debunked myths. We must win the narrative with the public, because if we exist in alternative realities, there is no way we are going to be able to come together as a democracy and tackle our greatest issues.
 

  • 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 work as a rural physician in a politically conservative part of our state. I took care of families that were given false information about how to protect themselves from the severe impacts of COVID 19 - and many people died because of that. When building trusting relationships with people, and explaining the science behind vaccinations and therapeutics, we have been able to breakthrough the noice and disinformation and better protect the community that I serve. It is going to take this level of individual organizing to make the impacts that we are going to need to build a movement that is engaged in a green transition for New Mexico.

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

I support the End of Citizens United, and comprehensive campaign finance reform that takes big money and dark money out of politics. This will allow everyday, working people to represent their communities - rather than those backed by industry and powerful special interests.

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

The bold investment in green infrastructure development would create new jobs and revenue for our state. Though NM does need to continue diversifying it's economy so it is not so heavily reliant on extractive industries and the carceral state.

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

No

Yes