New Mexico leaders gathered at the inaugural New Mexico Climate Summit at the State Capitol in Santa Fe on Monday and Tuesday, hosted by House Speaker Brian Egolf, where congressional officials and Voters discussed the need for critical economic investments and ambitious policy goals to propel the state transition towards clean energy.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is leading the way in implementing climate-friendly initiatives, describing her work with the Energy transition law and that of the State decree on climate change and the prevention of energy waste.
“We don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to climate action,” said Sarah Cottrell Propst, Secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources.
Recognizing the urgency of the issue, Lujan Grisham called for codification of the state’s net zero emission in 2050 goal. She said the transition to a net zero emission economy requires diversification of the state’s energy portfolio to include wind, solar and geothermal power, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels in all industries in New Mexico.
“I think we should codify this work (towards net zero emissions) in the next legislative session,” said Lujan Grisham. “It’s a job to be indicative of what we’re going to do to preserve these efforts for future generations.”
According to Cottrell Propst, it is possible to have a sustainable and diverse economy through investments in technology, restructuring of agencies to support climate action, and interagency collaboration.
New Mexico is the third largest Oil-producing state, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Maite Arce, president and CEO of the Hispanic Access Foundation, said that within the state, the oil and gas industry is a important employer. For this reason, Constituent Joselinne Cobos said the energy transition must support existing workers in the oil industry. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cobos’ father lost his job when demand for the resource rapidly declined.
“It’s time to invest boldly in creating industries that are not entirely based on oil and gas,” said Ahtza Chavez, executive director of the Native American Voters Alliance Education Project.
US Senator Martin Heinrich has said he is working on clear climate solutions in parallel efforts to President Biden.Rebuild better”, In particular by pleading in the Senate for investments in clean energies, the electrification of transport and housing infrastructures.
“I foresee how our state can replace the income currently generated by the production of fossil fuels,” said Heinrich.
While the oil and gas industry has instilled a sense of imperviousness in communities that depend on the industry for jobs, there are solutions to decarbonize the economy, according to speaker Andrew Baumann, vice president senior and researcher at the Global Strategy Group.
Baumann said public approval transition to clean energy has improved in recent years, with 69% of U.S. voters identifying climate change as an issue and most U.S. adults saying prioritizing clean energy development should be a priority for the US energy sector.
As New Mexico’s leaders begin to set long-term climate goals, Lujan Grisham said prioritizing equity is a critical part of starting conversations about the transition to a clean energy economy.
“We do not welcome the shift in income and security, and renewable energy and resources should be accessible to all,” said Chavez.
United States Representative Melanie Stansbury said the prolonged drought in New Mexico and extreme hot temperatures are clear products of the climate crisis, which demands bold intervention.
Rebecca Hobart is a beat reporter for The Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @rjhobart