Debra "Debbie" Sariñana
Candidate, NM House District 21
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?
Climate change must take on a new mindset. Politicians can have benchmarks and timeframes but if social behaviors do not change then our battle on climate change will not work. We can add new technologies but unless social behaviors changes new technologies won't be enough. Public servants do the best they can when working with the dat and the reality.
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 of service I carried a energy storage bill that did not pass but it was a start. I would work more towards community solar and grow our wind farms. But we must be mindful of our military bases and their missions.
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?
Community solar is one way. It allows those who many not be able to afford their own solar to be part investing in solar.
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. I have been looking into this over the last 4 years.
If elected, how will you include Indigenous and traditional land-based knowledge in the development of a sustainable economy for all of NM?
I would invite our indigenous and all participants to meetings to discuss how important and doable development of sustainable economy can be.
Who will you talk to about climate issues? Who advises you? What is your plan for community consultation on climate issues?
I speak often and get advice from the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. I don't have a personal consultant at this time.
Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM
Environmental racism is when lower income, primarily people of color, are living in areas that are close to hazardous material many times due to lower rent and availability of cheap housing. I represent part of the International District which has one of the highest rates of food stamp uses in the state. The I.D. is near the Air Force Base where their was a jet spill around 1999. The ground water underneath and near the base was costaninated and is still currently being cleaned up.
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 I believe climate is an issue of intergenerational justice. First we need to remove this President who has rolled back more than 60 environmental rules and regulations. We need to do a much better job on educating the public and our students. As a state we need to create regulations that focus specifically on climate change initiatives.
A) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas development in the state of New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Yes I support placing a moratorium on new gas development. So much has changed over the last few months. I believe we need to finance the environmental department at a higher level so that we can find qualified people who will work in NM to ensure spills are found and cleaned up quickly. We need to move quickly toward carbon capturing with he well we currently have.
B) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
I support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico. We need to transition to renewables instead as quickly as possible.
Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?
Yes I would support nuclear energy because it is a clean energy with zero emissions.
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?
I support a competitive energy market but we need to modernize the grid to make this possible. In the Energy Committee we move to studying this modernization.
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 believe in community solar because it is a way for everyone, no matter the income, to invest in solar. I will try to carry a bill for the advancement of Community Solar. We also passed the Solar Tax Credit in 2020.
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?
The larger problem we have currently is that we do not have enough people to hold anyone accountable for pollution and cleanup. We need to fully fund the Environment Department so that the qualified people can be found and paid at a level that this keep them in the jobs.
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 believe that unfortunately they will be needed until we can grow our renewable energy resources to the point that they can sustain the state.
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 we have realized just how much pollutants we are putting in the air by way of motor vehicles, planes and industry. It seemed like the world stopped and Mother Nature was able to flourish. I think we can learn that it is possible to clear our air and water but it will take everyone changing their mindset.
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 do not have experience in this area. But I have seen the impact that environmental issues have had on many of my students health.
What are your ideas to loosen the grip of industry on the state legislature and strengthen our democracy?
I believe we need to offer more renewable tax credits so that more people throughout the state can participate and invest in renewable energy.
Name specific alternative sources for state revenue that you'd pursue and propose if elected
I'd look at who is benefitting from our wind energy and propose adding a tax when that wind energy is sold to other states. Currently NM benefits very little from the out of state companies what have invested in NM's wind market. I would invest more in Tourism. NM is a great state to hit and fish. I would make sure we are staying competitive with our surrounding states when it comes to wildlife and hunting.
Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? Yes/No
Will you take the #fossilfree pledge?