Patrick "Pat" Varela
Candidate, NM House District 45
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?
Lobby with other legislators the importance of our delicate environment and push legislation through. If elected and that goes for any legislative office because you are only one voice and it is up to the individual to push for laws and policies. They way to do this is to get an allied in the Senate and drop identical bills on the House side and the Senate side. Then it is time to start lobbying fellow lawmakers to agree with your vision. If you do this method, it is bound to be heard.
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?
Ween the state off of oil and gas and start using our natural resources to utilize renewable energy. Also work with the Land Commissioner to issue lease agreements with renewable energy companies to use our lands. Another I want to get to right away is to make "green bonds" permissible investments in this state in NMSA 6-10-10. Also initiate the New Green Deal locally.
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?
I would make sure there are not any proposed cuts from the budget pertaining "green economy". I know many are going to look at this as a "non-necessity" and try to cut it out to add it to the general fund. This is not acceptable as doing so would move us further back from reducing our carbon foot print and saving a few dollars could impact our environment for our future New Mexicans.
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, because these people will be the biggest benefit to me or any legislator as they are educated in the field and have researched what is best for New Mexico and what is needed legislative wise to move forward to reduce climate change. Going to the source or having the source come to you should be key to any successful legislator.
If elected, how will you include Indigenous and traditional land-based knowledge in the development of a sustainable economy for all of NM?
Work with all tribal leaders to get their input. It is very important to approach them first because after all they were here first and we do not want to go against their customs or traditions. Many are already on board to reduce climate change and getting a committee from their leadership will only strengthen the cause.
Who will you talk to about climate issues? Who advises you? What is your plan for community consultation on climate issues?
I would talk to groups such as The Sierra Club and other climate oriented groups to get advice or to plan a strategy.
Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM
WIPP is a perfect example of environmental racism.No matter the proof, studies and protests, they went forward to move waste from point A to point B no matter the risks it has on other motorists on the highways or the people around the isolation area.
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.
It is our responsibility to leave our environment to our future generations that is clean, livable, with water to drink, clean air to breath and to live without the fear of being burnt by the sun of with little water to drink. I worry right now for my god daughter who is 17 on how she will live in 10 years if no or little action is taken.
A) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas development in the state of New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Yes. The combustion engine has been outdated for years and is only used because powerful people are keeping it alive and there are alternatives to natural gas. In a nutshell we do not need it anymore.
B) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Yes. There are other alternatives other than these carbon producers
Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?
Absolutely not. I was a teenager when the Chernobyl disaster happened and that almost became a world disaster. No matter the fail safes they have, there is a huge risk to humanity.
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. Because it is locally owned ant that money stays liquid in NM's economy.
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?
Bring it forward AGAIN. I have been disappointed that these bills fizzle out. This is something I would like to see the Land Commissioner work forward towards also.
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 should be left in better condition then it is found but many times that is not the case. This is where we have to put a code enforcement team in place to monitor or fine companies who are not in compliance.
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?
As I stated earlier, we have to ween ourselves off oil and gas. I never understood why we budget on a revenue that isn't a constant. I would like to budget on other alternatives instead of something that is harmful to the environment.
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?
It is obvious that everyone world wide is working towards a cure for this disease. If we all took the same action towards climate change we would have a better chance of combating it. The one positive thing that has come out of COVID is that coal plants are burning less and oil isn't being consumed as much and in many parts of the world pollution has reduced.
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?
Being elected as County Treasurer I am able to invest in sovereign bonds such as IRBD bonds. This money invested not only gives the county a better yield but the money actually goes to the cause. Such as under developed communities, education for under privileged children, health care and such. With my experience in investments I want to bring forth Green Bonds (aka climate bonds) into legislation as permissible. The money goes directly to the cause.
What are your ideas to loosen the grip of industry on the state legislature and strengthen our democracy?
Not allowing big money PACs of industry into NM.
Name specific alternative sources for state revenue that you'd pursue and propose if elected.
Green Bonds and using lease land contracts for renewable energy companies.
Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? Yes/No
Will you take the #fossilfree pledge? http://nofossilfuelmoney.org/politician-signup/