On Sept. 20, hundreds of marchers surrounded a billboard-sized banner hanging from the PERA Building in Santa Fe that proclaimed, “New Mexicans Prefer Clean Energy. When Will PNM Change?” The PERA Building houses the N.M. Public Regulation Commission (PRC), which, after upcoming public hearings, is facing a decision regarding the state’s coal-fired power plants. Spurred by new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules that will reduce emissions and haze, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) is retiring two units of the San Juan Generating Station. The marchers called on PNM and the PRC to significantly increase the amount of renewables rather than using more coal and nuclear as a replacement. They also called on Gov. Martínez to retract her opposition to the new rules.
The marches in Santa Fe and Albuquerque were two of nearly 2,700 events in more than 150 countries including the People’s Climate March in New York, in anticipation of the Sept. 23 United Nations Climate Summit. Climate disruption has been worsening faster than predicted, and the world remains far off track in efforts to control global warming. More carbon dioxide was spewed into the atmosphere last year than ever before.
“Climate change is an ethical and moral issue of immediate concern,” said Sister Joan Brown, executive director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, an organization that was represented among the diverse coalition of groups and citizens who were marching. “We have a responsibility to ensure that people in New Mexico and around the world have access to clean air and water and the basic natural resources that support their communities,” Brown said. “These riches do not belong to corporations but to present and future generations that depend upon them for their very lives.”
Former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, current co-chair of the city’s Climate Task Force said, “PNM and the state have an opportunity to develop a bountiful clean-energy economy for New Mexico, but their current plan would cost more to ratepayers and cost far more to our children than a forward-looking alternative with hundreds of megawatts of renewable energy. That’s why we joined this march and are intervening on the San Juan replacement case.”
“We must take the opportunity to build jobs and the economy around climate solutions because time is running out to act,” said Camilla Feibelman, Río Grande chapter director of the Sierra Club. “That is why we are marching today—to urge our local, state and federal governments to take action.”