Editor’s note: The June 3 primary is approaching. Gary King is New Mexico’s attorney general; Linda Lopez and Howie Morales are state senators; Lawrence Rael has served in many executive roles; Alan Webber is a businessman and former publisher.
Protection of the environment and especially of our ground and surface water resources is one of my top priorities—that is what we need in the Governor’s Office today. Where others may talk and make promises, as your attorney general I have fought to protect our environment. I am proud of my record of accomplishment.
A few years ago I challenged the Bush-EPA’s decision to permit construction of the Desert Rock coal power plant in the Four Corners area. EPA had not taken proper consideration of the hazardous air pollutants, nor the Endangered Species Act when it issued a permit for the facility. My challenge, working with environmental groups, resulted in EPA withdrawing the permit.
Today I continue to lead the fight to block Gov. Martinez’s destructive Copper Mine Rule that would allow widespread contamination of groundwater beneath copper mines in the state, setting a dangerous precedent to empower other industries to do so. It would undermine decades of protection of groundwater in New Mexico.
More recently I led the fight successfully to block the Valley Meat Company horse slaughter facility in Roswell. The owners wanted to operate without a valid water discharge permit—a permit that ensures our groundwater will not be contaminated.
Job development and protection of our resources is not an either/or proposition. As governor I will promote common-ground policies that both protect the environment and support economic growth and jobs.
More than any governor in New Mexico history, I will champion the environment. A Morales administration will take action to block hazardous chemicals from being released into the air we breathe, dumped into the water we drink, or improperly disposed of on the land we inhabit.
I support moving our state to a clean energy grid, including electric, automobiles and construction. We can have a positive impact on our environment through the everyday choices we make, and I pledge to lead New Mexico by example.
As governor, I will bring stakeholders together from across our state to develop a true, comprehensive state water plan based on communication, collaboration and trust—including our municipalities, tribal governments, acequia organizations and our farmers and ranchers. We must have input from all sectors to have a true chance at success in transforming our water use and securing it for future generations.
As governor, I will invest fully in wildfire preparedness, prevention and mitigation, including education efforts, thinning dense overgrowth in our forests, reducing wild land fuel sources, and funding land rehabilitation to restore fire-damaged landscape, infrastructure reconstruction, and other recovery measures. I will also invest in improving dams, arroyos and channels to prevent threats of flash flooding.
On Jan. 1, 2015, the change from Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration will be immediate. Never again will the Governor’s Office or the state government block New Mexico citizens from participating in decisions that affect our land, air and water quality.
As former president of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, I have already been pushing for renewable energy and “buy local” initiatives. It is what we must do to preserve our environment for future generations and to diversify our economy and create good paying jobs. But the generation of clean renewable energy should only be the start. New Mexico’s goal should be to become the leader in all aspects of renewable energy: manufacturing of components, developing new technologies from our labs, and transmission of this clean energy to the entire U.S.
There are several steps we can take. The first is simple: let’s examine what policies have been working both here and elsewhere and expand on them. For example, the Sustainable Building Tax Credit has been a tremendous success for building energy-efficient homes and for creating jobs. Because of inaction by Gov. Martinez, this program is now oversubscribed when it should have been expanded.
The second step is that we must invest in ourselves if we want to develop a clean energy future for New Mexico. Currently, almost all of our permanent funds are invested in Wall Street. If we brought just a small number of those dollars home to invest in local businesses, we can develop the technologies of tomorrow and create jobs right here at home.
New Mexico has the resources to be at the forefront of this field. We just need the will and the leadership to make it a reality.
As New Mexicans, we all know how incredible our state is, and how lucky we are to live here. We also recognize our tremendous untapped potential. Nowhere is that more obvious than with renewable energy and our nascent green economy.
We are second in the country in solar energy potential; there is no excuse for us not to lead the nation in solar energy production. As governor, I will put in place the policies necessary to achieve 20 percent solar energy by 2025 (http://www.alanfornm.com/solar/). Naturally, we will foster other renewable energy sources as well, but the greatest gap between potential and reality is with solar.
At the same time, we must reduce our energy demands by investing heavily in energy efficiency. Efficiency measures are a win-win-win for everyone: they create badly needed jobs, they save New Mexicans money on their utility bills, and they reduce our carbon pollution.
Although natural resources are a big part of New Mexico’s economy now, that activity is focused around non-renewable resource extraction like oil, gas and mining—not on clean, sustainable resource development. We need to diversify our economy, and turn our biggest challenges—energy storage and transmission, water scarcity, etc.—into opportunities to lead the country in environmentally friendly technology development, application and manufacturing.
We also need to do more to boost outdoor recreation and ecological tourism. These are growth industries nationally and globally and with innovative leadership, we can take full advantage of the opportunities that await us. Please visit http://www.alanfornm.com/