Candidate, NM Senate District 37
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?
Because they are worried about getting re-elected more than getting good science. They often believe everything is a negotiation. I am already pushing for state requirements that do not allow for exceptions or to continue fossil fuel burning when we know that it must be curtailed. Legislation I have proposed would ban any new fossil fuel plants. Only sustainable clean projects would be permitted.
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?
Mandating times when all new cars sold in the state must be clean. Setting building codes that require solar installation for new construction. Bold investments in landscape scale renewables of solar and wind owned by the state.
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?
A proposal I put forward for Community Solar had a provision to subsidize low income installations so all can get the benefit not just the affluent. I also back tiered rates that have high energy users with big homes pay more and subsidize the lower energy use of smaller homes.
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.
While I would support it, I think it is too weak. I support a constitutional Green Amendment to protect the environment. I support massive infrastructure projects to build renewable energy systems funded through a state bank with interest returned to the bank with a tax on electrons. We must be bold. That is easy to say in the abstract but we must reach for it.
If elected, how will you include Indigenous and traditional land-based knowledge in the development of a sustainable economy for all of NM?
We all share the “commons” of the land, air, and water. The indigenous people have been following this for generations. We need to change our consumptive, and exploitative greed driven economy with a long-term view. In addition, we need to make green investments in the communities hurt by the changes.
Who will you talk to about climate issues? Who advises you? What is your plan for community consultation on climate issues?
I am a member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. I have attended several conferences hosted by groups dedicated to environmental sustainability. I have people at NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) who I can call and talk to who have helped with legislation on closing coal power plants, community solar, and ideas about landscape scale solar and wind.
Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM:
Environmental risks and hazards are not evenly distributed. People in poverty and without influence, which are often also people of color and ethnic minority, have more pollution, poor water, and less access to clean environment than those of affluence. In New Mexico, the legacy uranium mines and the toxic chemicals and hazards are left to the people living in the area after the money from uranium dried up. The companies left the problems and the local people don’t have the resources to move.
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.
I think about this every day. I am disappointed that so many in my generation have an exploitive mindset about using the resources without regard for the future or when the resource is gone. We need to invest our current wealth in providing for a sustainable future.
A) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas development in the state of New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Yes. There currently is a glut of gas on the market that is depressing the value and it is a Luddite industry trying to hang on. We need to be investing in clean energy and not propping up old industries.
B) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Yes and I introduced legislation to do so. Any new gas plant constructed today will be obsolete in as little as a decade but we will continue to pay for the stranded assets well past it’s useful life. Better to invest in clean energy now.
Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?
I do. Particularly thorium plants. Let me explain. Thorium has a fraction of the waste of uranium nuclear and cannot melt down like a traditional plant. The energy is large. To get to 100% clean is all but impossible without some nuclear. We can get to 75% but the last 25% of energy is incredibly difficult from clean sources even with battery storage. Small modular thorium reactors can fill that need safely. This is a long conversation with many nuances.
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 do. The large power plant model was necessary for the way we use to produce energy. Smaller local distributed generation with interconnected smart grids is more resilient and sustainable, however, the investments we made in the old system makes it difficult to change over and the investor owned utilities are resisting any changes to the models that have made them lots of money.
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 carried one of the main bills last session, SB80. It was written without trying to appease any particular group or interest but instead to provide a quality bill that increased solar footprint. It was written with input from national experts and input from NREL. It received criticism from the utilities and some environmental groups as it didn’t try to favor any group or organization but instead what was good policy.
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 am very concerned that the legacy costs of the fossil fuel industry, whether coal, gas, or oil, are not addressed with the current bonding requirements. It is too easy for companies to walk away from a bankruptcy and leave the clean-up costs to the public.
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?
We are currently so tied to the industry that we will continue to rely on the money for several more years. I hope that we start making major public investments in clean energy and move away from fossil fuels. Elections are key as to how long that transition is. I have asked repeatedly of the finance people where we should invest to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels but never get an answer. It seems they can only see what currently is and not what could be.
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?
We need to take action and prepare for crisis and ensure we are resilient. Greed has gotten in the way of both and shows how ill prepared we are.
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 an educator and have worked in high poverty communities for much of that career. I also sponsored the Anna Age Eight Institute bill that works to increase a communities resilience and protects children. ACES is a public health crisis and environmental stressors are real in impacted communities. I will continue to advocate for all people until we no longer have expendable communities.
What are your ideas to loosen the grip of industry on the state legislature and strengthen our democracy?
We need to overturn Citizen’s United and the dark money. We need to elect more progressive candidates who are not beholden to big industry. We need more women. Voting rights, access, and empowerment of young voters is key. I register several hundred young voters each year and guest teach in high school government classes to stress the importance of their voice.
Name specific alternative sources for state revenue that you'd pursue and propose if elected:
As I said earlier, we need to have large state investment in clean energy at the landscape scale and use the revenue to fund state government and reduce energy bills. We need to bring in clean jobs by giving free clean energy to companies if they can use the energy when there is a surplus and they create clean jobs. I have written a several page paper on how we could do this in 10 years if we had the will.
Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? Yes/No
Will you take the #fossilfree pledge? http://nofossilfuelmoney.org/politician-signup/