Archive for November, 2011

Policy Blueprint Unveiled at Renewable Energy and Clean Technology Conference

September 30, 2011 • Las Cruces, New Mexico Allan Oliver

On September 30th, the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce and clean-energy business leaders from across the state unveiled a policy platform to help New Mexico grow its green economy at the first-ever statewide Renewable Energy and Clean Technology Conference. Held at the Rio Grande Theater in Las Cruces, the conference drew more than 200 participants from industry, government, higher education, and research laboratories; as well as federal, state, and local policy-makers.

New Mexico’s clean economy already makes up 5.9% of the state’s private-sector employment and supports more than 35,800 jobs. More >


The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce believes that our state has the opportunity over the next five years to position itself for major economic growth representing tens of thousands of jobs. The renewable energy sector alone could create 66,000 new jobs by developing its 27,000 MW of clean energy potential, based on an analysis by Los Alamos National Laboratory. The global market for clean technologies, such as renewable energy, biofuels and water treatment, is enormous. As these technologies are steadily becoming more affordable, consumer demand for these solutions is growing fast.

New Mexico has emerging technology from our national labs More >

Developing Resilience in NM Communities and Businesses

Harvey Stone and Erin Sanborn

Eleven years into the Millennium, we’ve already seen the worst global recession in nearly a century; a growing gulf between America’s richest and the rest of us; and the greatest concentration of extreme fires, floods, droughts, tornadoes and hurricanes to hit New Mexico, New Delhi and everywhere in-between.

What’s worse: In the next few decades, virtually every business and community will be bounced around like a small plane in a large thunderstorm. We can put our head between our knees. Even better: We can develop resilience in the face of the coming political, economic and meteorological More >

Green Business Cluster of Northern New Mexico

Businesses and Organizations Invited to Join Network Seth Roffman

The Northern New Mexico Green Business Cluster is a new program of the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI), a long-term economic development strategy for north-central New Mexico implemented by the Regional Development Corporation in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos counties. REDI’s goals are to diversify the economy, develop a high-quality workforce, increase the number of higher paying jobs, retain and attract youth and families, and help make rural communities vibrant. Partners include tribal governments and private sector entities. Currently, REDI is implementing several aspects of the plan, including More >

Rebekah Azen

Rebekah Azen passed away on October 20. Her multi-part Green Fire Times series, “Kidnapped by the House,” was extensively researched and produced as a well-written solutions-based approach to current housing challenges (which presaged some of the content we’re seeing in the democratically-based “Occupy” movement).

Rebekah was born in Madison, Wisconsin. She began her career working in tribal libraries. Her love of the Southwest and Native American cultures brought her to New Mexico 27 years ago. She had many friends at San Felipe Pueblo. Most recently, she was an employee of the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, working as both a consultant More >

$2 Million in Green Job Training Grants Awarded

$2 million dollars in grant funding has been awarded to three community colleges in New Mexico to expand or develop occupational training programs in the wind, solar biofuels, green building and energy efficiency sectors.

The grant is from the U.S. Department of Labor through the New Mexico Dept. of Workforce Solutions. It will support Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, and Santa Fe Community College’s efforts to develop green training programs for their local communities and other communities through a “train-the-trainer” approach. Those colleges have been designated “centers of excellence” by Workforce Solutions.

“The colleges will More >

Solar Energy in New Mexico

PRC Commissioner Jason Marks

A few months after the enormous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year, the head of the solar energy industry had his own announcement to make: “There was a major spill of solar energy yesterday,” he solemnly told attendees at an energy conference, before concluding, “Everyone agreed it was a beautiful day.” This bon mot plays on the widespread (and accurate) perception that solar energy is a safe and clean source of power. But is solar energy a serious source of power that can displace fossil fuels on a large scale and at More >


2,099 Work in NM Solar Industry

The Solar Foundation, a trade group representing solar power companies, reports that New Mexico has 2,099 people working in the industry, which puts the state No. 13 in the nation. The top 10 states in order were: California, Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The foundation and Green LMI Consulting conducted the survey with help from Cornell University. The report may be viewed at

Schott Solar Facility Achieves LEED Certification

Schott Solar, Inc. has achieved certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) More >

Santa Fe Architect Ed Mazria Awarded $100,000 Purpose Prize

Civic Ventures, a nonprofit think tank on boomers, work and social purpose, has announced the 2011 winners of its Purpose Prize. Among the five winners is Ed Mazria, a Santa Fe architect challenging the building sector—perhaps the largest contributor of greenhouse gases—to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

The Purpose Prize is a program of Civic Ventures’ Encore Careers campaign (, which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining personal meaning, continued income and social impact in the second half of life. Other 2011 winners are working to create jobs, help immigrants in the U.S. and improve the More >

Op-Ed: Out with the Good, In with the Bad? Don’t Scrap Albuquerque’s Energy-saving Building Code

Shrayas Jatkar and Tammy Fiebelkorn

Rational and sane policymaking is like an endangered species in today’s hostile, polarized political climate, at the national level as well as in New Mexico under Governor Susana Martinez. Sadly, this means that commonsense rules, like energy-saving building codes for new construction, are under attack after years of hard work to develop the best safeguards for New Mexico.

Energy-saving building codes can help New Mexico save consumers money on their electric and gas bills, improve public health by cleaning up the air we breathe and meet the challenges of climate change. But earlier this year, the More >

Cities Water Needs Could Deplete Rural Areas

Jack King

Communities in rural New Mexico are watching apprehensively as the Rio Grande Valley’s growing water needs threaten to deplete their water resources, two state legislators said recently. Attorneys for members of several of the communities have challenged applications to the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) by the developers of two large projects to transfer water from other parts of the state into the Valley.

One project, Berrendo LLC, would transfer more than 2 billion gallons of water a year from a site near Ft. Sumner to somewhere near Santa Fe. The second project is asking the OSE for More >

New Mexico Water Summit Planned

Who Controls our Water? David Bacon

As the struggle between water as commodity and water as public asset and public right is played out, the ability of the counties to formulate and enact legislation will be key in protecting New Mexico’s water future. To bring county and state officials together with water activists to identify both problems and solutions, and to encourage a statewide dialogue, local water advocates are organizing a Water Summit in Santa Fe early next year. (Stay tuned to this paper for details.) The summit will provide an overview of national water ordinances and then go into More >

Book Profile:
Reining in the Rio Grande
by G. Emlen Hall, Fred M. Phillips and Mary E. Black

G. Emlen Hall, author of the single best book written about New Mexico water politics, High and Dry: The Texas-New Mexico Struggle for the Pecos River, has co-authored a new book on the Rio Grande. If High and Dry reads like a great legal drama– think Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent – the new book, Reining In The Rio Grande, reads like an epic tragedy.

Hall’s co-authors are Fred M. Phillips, director of the hydrology program in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, and Mary E. Black, an anthropological linguist, writer and More >

An Interview with G. Emlen Hall, Fred M. Phillips and Mary E. Black

Q: Why a book on the Rio Grande now?

Fred Phillips: It’s really apparent that there are critical water issues affecting the general public, and this seemed like a good avenue to help the public understand those issues.

Q: Why write a book that includes the whole history of the river from the Proterozoic Eon to the present?

Phillips: To the future actually.

Mary Black: I think it’s mainly because of the expertise we had. Fred definitely knows his geologic history.

Phillips: The current political, economic, legal controversies that surround the Rio Grande are in very large part a result of the physical constraints of More >

Water Heist in the Plains of San Augustín—Part II

Jack Loeffler

In America, we are conditioned by the often-erroneous notion that if something is legal, it is okay to proceed. This practice erodes our perception of ethics as we weave complex legal structures to justify engaging in what we know intuitively to be wrong. Such is the case with the proposed water heist in the Plains of San Augustín. In the January 2011 edition of Green Fire Times, I wrote an article entitled “Water Heist in the Plains of San Augustín” that tells the grim continuing story about a family of New Yorkers who bought a ranch, the Augustín More >

An Open Letter to My Guy Grant, Loss Mitigation Manager at CitiMortgage

Dear Grant,

I hope this letter finds you well. I appreciate you calling me September 4 to tell me that you had not received the final paperwork on the Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure on my house. I even appreciate the urgency in your voice when you so sweetly said to me “Hello, it’s Grant from CitiMortgage. Vicki, you must get this signed immediately and scan and email it to me because the foreclosure is scheduled for September 15.” You had me at hello.

I even answered your call when I was on vacation in August. You were so happy to More >

Faren Dancer’s Green Talk

A Community Experiment …Circa 1970s

The 1960s brought the emergence of a new culture desiring to align with the natural world: a disenfranchised generation repulsed by mindless materialism, seeking alternatives in most all aspects of life. The quest was for peace, not war; love, not hate, and a communion with the Mother Earth that spawned a movement back to the land and toward most things natural—from clothing, to diet, to medicine, to childbirth, to active participation in and attunement to the body, mind and spirit. Of course there was a noticeable level of dysfunction; after all, it was also the drug More >


Susan Guyette

The most critical and easiest action one can take to help ensure an adequate food supply, both for oneself and globally, is to not waste food. Taking care to think through food purchases, storage, preparation and eating mindfully in a nutritious, non-excessive caloric way makes room in the budget for high quality food. Optimal nutrition is needed to build a strong body and support the daily healing process within. Conscious behavior around food considers the needs of community. These are spiritual aspects of relating to Mother Earth.

Food waste isn’t a topic popular with Americans; however, assessments presented at the More >

LEED Gold Award for SFCC’s Health and Sciences Center

The U.S. Green Building Council has certified SF Community College’s Health and Sciences Center at the Gold Level under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction. The building earned 40 documented and approved points. The design carefully considers sustainable design principles in all regards, including energy-efficient mechanical systems, high performance glass, architectural and tree shading, water conservation and water-efficient landscaping. The main lobby features the first LEED Gold building in the Southwest to have a “living wall” bio-filter, a 14-foot high by 20-foot wide vertical hydroponic plant wall that is tied to the HVAC system to More >


Santa Fe Conservation Trust Building New Trail Link Major Connection to Open by Year’s End

The Santa Fe Conservation Trust is building three miles of new recreational public trails that will make it possible for people to be able to get on trails near downtown and hike or bike all the way up through the Santa Fe National Forest to the ski basin. The 3-mile La Piedra Trail will connect Dale Ball Trail North with the Little Tesuque Creek Trail and others. It will be the first recreational trail established in Santa Fe for 13 years. Public and private partnerships between More >