Melissa Ontiveros

https://melissafornm31.com/

Candidate, NM Senate District 31

Do you agree with climate scientists that we are facing a climate emergency?

Yes

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?

Yes

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?

Political leaders set benchmarks and time frames for emission reductions through support  and by passing policy that will either expedite or impose sanctions on emission reduction programs and initiatives. Depending on if a legislature is paid by big oil and gas companies they will potentially set back movement towards emission reductions.   on the other hand legislatures working with environmentalist will push legislation to move toward climate science mandates.

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?

Create a strategic communications strategy aimed at educating all stakeholders

Direct donors to funding opportunities

Encourage and support state initiatives that restore the environment 

 
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?

Propose legislature to encourage local/state/ tribal/federal entities to recognize environmental racism as a public health crisis. Advocate for policies that improve the health of communities of color.

Support programs that offer training's to expand understanding of how Environmental Racism affects people in NM. Acknowledge Environmental Justice policy that communities of color should not bear unequal burden of environmental pollutants.

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, absolutely...

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

Hold briefings on environmental organizations recommendations for policymakers, philanthropic organizations, and other stakeholder groups. Create a strategic communications strategy aimed at educating all stakeholders on current conditions, what is needed, and how to sustain an economy for New Mexcio.

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

Yes, I'll continue to speak on climate issues. NMPHA, APHA, Youth United, Health councils, Western Environmental Law Center, NM Center for Law and Poverty.

Listen to communities experiencing pollution and health inequities.

Educate with science and research.

Consult with State and National experts.

Recognize and promote environmental issues and inclusion, in support of healthy and sustainable policies.

Include diverse voices of NM communities.

Grassroots community-led solutions from groups such 

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

Environmental racism is a public health crisis affecting large numbers of people, threatens health over the long-term, requiring the adoption of large scale solutions. Examples are: Native American lands have been a place where high levels of radioactive materials have been dumped. Hispanic populations are more likely to live near hazardous landfill sites, and African American populations are more likely to live near industrial facilities and uncontrolled toxic waste sites.

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, climate action is an issue of intergenerational justice. Our responsibility is to identify solutions, propose policy to reduce negative effects of climate change; thus preserving the Earth for future generations.   

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

Yes, we should place a moratorium on new gas developments. We must look at our energy use from all angles and seek out the best solutions to the energy crisis. Switching to renewable energy will also require a lot of Natural Gas production, another resource that harms the climate. It is ideal that New Mexico be 100% reliant on renewable and sustainable energy sources, I am committed to making sure that New Mexico transitions to renewable energy with the least negative impact on our state.  

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

Yes, we should place a moratorium on new gas developments. We must look at our energy use from all angles and seek out the best solutions to the energy crisis. Switching to renewable energy will also require a lot of Natural Gas production, another resource that harms the climate. It is ideal that New Mexico be 100% reliant on renewable and sustainable energy sources,  I am committed to making sure that New Mexico transitions to renewable energy with the least negative impact on our state.  

Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?

No, it's expensive and dangerous

 

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, competitive energy markets would eliminate the current monopoly. A competitive energy market would open the market for a equitable and competitive business. This would help make adjustments according to SES of NM's very diverse communities. In addition, it would keep energy dollars local. Thais could assist in energy programs, initiatives and transition to renewable energy.

 
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 community solar. Identify community-centered solutions:

            Direct donors to funding opportunities

            Encourage and support state initiatives that restore the environment

            Encourage and support funding and implementation community solar

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?

Direct donors to funding opportunities

Support the state’s rejection of Holtec waste dump in New Mexico.

Encourage and support state initiatives that restore the environment (clean-up Superfund and hazardous waste sites)

Support a plan for the restoration and proper disposal of coal ash at the San Juan generating Station and PNM coal mine

Encourage and support the funding and implementation of the Gallup pipeline project

Do you believe bonding rates for industry should cover the full cost of cleanup?

Yes

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?

Oil and Gas corporations should be mandated to pay a higher gross receipt tax and pay larger fees for fines.

 
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?

While we are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot forget about unwarranted interactions with wildlife and climate changes that may have contributed to the crises. Due to habitat loss and the destruction of natural landscapes, we have a higher probability of encountering deadly viruses. Grassroots community mobilization from the bottom, with projects like species peril along the Rio Grande and energy transition, combined with policy initiative at the top, is necessary foundation.

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 the New Mexico Public Health Co-President; one of our priority areas is Environmental Health and Justice. We endorse and advocate for 2019 SB 275/SB 489 in the 2019 legislative session. and in 2020 legislative session NMPHA prioritized and advocated for the the renewable portfolio standard require 80% renewables by 2040. I also serve in the American Public Health Association, Center for Climate, Health and Equity Board. I will use my experience to continue to advocate and pass policy.

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

Legislatures should not be paid or bribed by big business to pass policy.

We need transparency and accountability in our legislature. we also need to elect leaders that are not be influenced by industry and are not afraid to pass laws that will increase equity and equality for all New Mexicans. We also need law makers who will look for sustainable solutions to protect our environment.  "

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

we need to look for revenue that comes from sustainable renewable energy, We should look at legalizing cannabis. we should look at supporting local business,  we want to look at creating and supporting more entrepreneur programs and business, and finally we should look at bringing more tech business (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.) to New Mexico

 

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

Yes

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

Yes

© 2020 YUCCA Action (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action) 

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