July 2011

State Supreme Court Will Hear Case For Intervention New Energy Economy Seeks Defend Carbon Reduction Law

The New Mexico State Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which nonprofit New Energy Economy (NEE) is seeking to intervene in an appeal filed by Public Service Company of NM (PNM) against the state Environment Improvement Board (EIB). In an appeal, PNM is asking the Court of Appeals to invalidate NM’s carbon pollution reduction law. The EIB adopted the law in December of 2010.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case,” said Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of NEE. “Since PNM is opposed to the carbon reduction law and Governor Martinez’s EIB is More >

Solar Newsbites

Albuquerque Church Goes Solar

The First Unitarian Church, 3701 Carlisle Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, has become the first mainstream faith congregation in New Mexico to go solar. The solar panels dedicated on June 19 will generate a major amount of the church’s power.

“The members of First Unitarian are very committed to living in a suitable way, and have wanted a solar project since before it was feasible! We gave extra attention to being a model for other nonprofit institutions, religious and secular, to be early adopters of this technology. It’s been a long wait, but we are really happy,” commented Pastor More >

Power Plant Emissions Regulations Under Contention

The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) approved a plan that, if accepted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will require PNM to spend $77 million for equipment to reduce global warming contributing emissions from its San Juan power plant near Farmington. The EIB rejected an EPA-supported plan to utilize “selective catalytic reduction” that PNM said would cost $750 million or more to reduce emissions at the plant by about 10 percent. The EPA estimated the cost at $250 million. The EPA is expected to make a decision on August 5 regarding retrofitting the San Juan and Four Corners More >

Kitchen Garden & Coop Tour July 24

Home Grown New Mexico and Edible Santa Fe are presenting a Kitchen Garden & Coop Tour on Sunday, July 24 from 9 am-2 pm as a fundraising event. Homeowners will take guests on a tour of six locations in Santa Fe to view water catchment, permaculture, heated raised beds, unique vegetables, fruit & nut trees, herbs, chicken coops, hand-painted beehives and a barn with goats. Master Gardeners will help answer questions. Local products will be for sale.

Tickets are $35, online at Brown Paper Tickets. Children under 12 are free. All proceeds go to Home Grown NM and Edible Santa Fe. More >

Grassroots Press Moves to Santa Fe

Grassroots Press, an alternative New Mexico newspaper, has moved to Santa Fe. Founder/Editor/Publisher Steve Klinger published a bi-monthly print edition out of Las Cruces for eight years. The publication is currently available exclusively online.

The web site (http://www.grass-roots-press.com) now offers expanded statewide coverage, concentrating on the Rio Grande corridor from Taos to Las Cruces/El Paso. It focuses on progressive politics, border issues, localism and sustainability.

Free electronic subscriptions are available through the web site, and news announcements, article ideas, photos, videos and commentary may be submitted to grassrootspress@gmail.com.

Centex Awarded for Energy Efficient New Homes in Santa Fe

Centex has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with a 2011 Energy Star Leadership in Housing Award. The award recognizes Centex’s contribution to energy-efficient construction and environmental protection by building more than 80 Energy Star qualified homes last year. Collectively, these homes will save homeowners approximately $36,207 on utility bills each year, said Brandon Jones, vice president of sales for PulteGroup’s New Mexico Division.

“Our Centex homes in Santa Fe feature many green features important in contributing to a healthier environment,” Brandon said, adding that Centex is part of the city of Santa Fe’s Green Program with Silver More >

Bioneers Radio Series Wins Awards

The 2010 radio series, “The Bioneers: Revolution From the Heart of Nature,” has won 12 major awards in two national radio competitions.

NYfestivals (New York festivals), considered the “Oscars” of international radio competition, has awarded the Silver Radio Winner to Where Angels Fear To Tread with environmental artist Lily Yeh in the Information/Documentary category and Environmental subcategory. It has named From Bows and Arrows to Laptops featuring Chief Almir Surui of the Amazonian Surui tribe and Rebecca Moore of Google Earth Outreach for the Bronze Award in the Information/Documentary category and Science and Technology subcategory.

Entries were received entries from over 30 More >

National Algae Association Conference at SFCC August 1st

The National Algae Association (NAA) will hold a strategic alliance conference at Santa Fe Community College on August 1st. The conference will bring together organizations to discuss algae production and deployment strategies, lessons learned, business practices, progress made and partnerships created.

The agenda includes (in part) New Mexico State University and Santa Fe Community College (SFCC), along with updates from NAA’s Algae Oil Spec Committee, the USDA, the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB), and industry updates by Algae Industry Magazine and Emerging Markets Online. A number of biofuel technology companies are scheduled to make presentations.

The day will end More >

NM No Longer Part of Wolf Restoration Effort

New Mexico’s Game Commission, with four new members appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, last month voted to stop assisting the federal effort to restore Mexican gray wolves, an endangered species in the Southwest. The wolf was once regularly found in NM before it was almost pushed to extinction by government trapping. By the late 1990s, after the species was returned to the region by federal biologists, less than 50 wolves remained in both New Mexico and Arizona.

Ranchers have complained that the predators attack their cattle and threaten children. Environmentalists point out that, among other things, the wolves control wild pigs More >

Low-Cost Zero Energy Homes Have Arrived Workshops Offered During July

In the same week that the State Construction Industry Commission appointed by Governor Susana Martinez abandoned the New Mexico Energy Conservation Code, a new line of low-cost solar “Zero Energy” homes was announced. Alan Hoffman, director of Natural Homes, a marketing group within Prudential Santa Fe Real Estate, says the homes are comfortable, healthy to live in, and can be built almost anywhere and in any style.

“We have been lied to for years,” says Hoffman. “The government and large-scale builders have claimed that Zero Energy homes could not be built for a price that working families can afford. But with More >

White House Meets with Business Leaders to Discuss New Economic Design

American Sustainable Business Council Presents Concepts for Repairing U.S. Economy

Allan M. Oliver

“I have been to hundreds of stakeholder meetings and this is definitely the best one I have ever been in.” That was the conclusion drawn by one of the senior White House officials who attended last month’s meeting with leading members of the American Sustainable Business Council. As the representative for the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, I couldn’t agree more. Business has a new voice in the halls of U.S. Government.

The American Sustainable Business Council convened the meeting with President Barack Obama’s Economic Development team to lay More >

Voices From Indigeneity

Cara McCoy

Indigeneity is a program of Bioneers, a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that promotes indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) as a path to the restoration of the social and ecological balance of Mother Earth. TEK is a crucial complement to Western science. Indigenous science offers a way of addressing and surviving the current challenges of global economic and environmental collapse.

The Indigeneity program is developing alliances among indigenous leaders and supporters of biocultural diversity, sacred site preservation, and the traditions of indigenous peoples. In 2008 and 2009, Rebecca Moore of Google Earth and Chief Almir Narayamoga of the Surui tribe in the More >

The Power of One

Vicki Pozzebon

“Hello, this is Grant, from CitiMortgage.” If you have been following the saga of my house (November and May GFT) then you know that this sentence, uttered straight from the mouth of the Loss Mitigator himself was MIRACULOUS and a victory for me.

In May I complained loudly about CitiMortgage’s lack of communication and their inability to process correctly a request for a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” I requested. Turns out I was just another case number to them. Thousands of families all over the U.S. are dealing with the same issues. I felt like I was in good More >

The Socially Responsible Investing Movement

Guy LeSage

Today, Americans are perhaps more pessimistic then ever regarding their finances. With the constant news of scandal and crime that flows out of Wall Street and Capitol Hill, many feel lost and helpless when it comes to making financial investment decisions. In this age of mistrust and skepticism regarding almost every aspect of big business and government, it is important to know there are still avenues of empowerment and hope. One of these is the Socially Responsible Investment movement, either as an investor or advocate. SRI is an activist-created financial movement that understands the power of money and wants More >

Recreational Vehicles – Green Features

RV sales have reportedly increased 8% over last year. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the fastest growing group of RV owners is young families, between 18 and 34 years old. RVIA says that RVs can save families between 27 to 67 percent in airline fees, hotel stays and other expenditures. Plus, they allow families to spend more time together seeing the country.

The RV industry has responded to the need for more energy-efficient, eco-conscious RVs by introducing the following features:

Lightweight low-profile motorhomes, aerodynamically designed for an average 15 mpg diesel, or gas-powered compact motorhomes on van chassis, offering More >

Educating the Average Middle Class Homeowner

Educating the Average Middle Class Homeowner

Rose Marie Kern

Many of us who read the Green Fire Times are already tuned into the need to live a sustainable lifestyle and stay aware of what is happening in the commercial and legislative worlds around us that will eventually affect all of us. But how do you infuse these concepts and ideals into the public at large?

This has been the mission of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association (NMSEA) for almost 40 years. The original group consisted primarily of visionary engineers and architects who experimented with alternative building materials and invented some of the More >

Orphans of the Land: Searching for Agricultural Mentorship

Authors: Bruce Milne, Kimberly Barnett, Joe Paul Castillo, Kelsy Dotson, and Jessica Rowland, with assistance from Michael Chang and James Burbank

Day one of the 2011 UNM Foodshed Field School found 14 University of New Mexico students and four instructors face to face with Monte Skarsgard, owner of Los Poblanos Organics South Valley Farm. “New Mexico needs more growers,” says Skarsgard. “Drive up Isleta [Boulevard] five minutes and you’ll see there’s plenty of land to feed a lot of people. The thing that we need is boots on the ground and hands in the soil – just making it happen. The More >

Power to the Patterns

Nate Downey

Permaculture designs use “natural patterns” to increase the efficiency and productivity of any given system. These patterns are nature’s equations. Over time, they are expressed as cycles of existence and phases of expansion and contraction. In space, patterns denote constants that move, store and produce energy. Expressed visually, we see spirals, branches, waves, webs, layers, rings, wombs, moons and more.

Every pattern reveals a universal conduit—from lightning to life, from healthy river systems to powerful grassroots organizations. Their rhythms make up the relationships that we observe. Their borderlines define highly animated edges of stability and diversity. Understanding the potential embedded More >

My Own Garden: Planning Your Extended Harvest

Susan Waterman

July really isn’t too early to start envisioning your fall and winter harvest. If you are planning to grow cool-season crops for extended harvest or for the entire winter, consider starting to plant around August 1. Seedlings can be started in pots, then moved to locations where there will be extra protection, like a greenhouse, cold frame, covered raised bed or an outdoor garden that will be covered with frost cloth and/or plastic.

The advantage of starting to plant around August 1 is that the earlier seedlings will surely have an adequate amount of sunlight every day for strong growth More >

Empowering Healthy Farms, Watersheds and Communities with Keyline Design®

Owen Hablutzel

Today in New Mexico water is an increasingly crucial and precious resource. Watershed groups, public environmental focus and individual actions statewide have made it a top priority. Given all this energy and activity, it is surprising more farmers, ranchers and folks concerned with water’s importance for fertility have not already heard about the practice of Keyline Design®! This is about to change.

A well-known practice “down-under” in dry Australia, the Keyline® Plan offers meaningful practical solutions to pressing water issues for a sustainable agriculture. Starting in the 1940s and working in some of the planet’s least fertile soils, Australian farmer More >