In August, Republican Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced his plan to ask the federal government to turn over “upwards of 6.5 millions acres” of “unleased federal subsurface mineral acreage” (ie, federal public lands) and federal mining leases to him. “Any and all unleased land… would then be leased out by the State Land Office” for new oil and gas permits, Dunn said. At the time, he had a big problem: a Democratic president who favors more public lands. But with Donald Trump in the White House, Tea Party leaders in Congress see a new opportunity to transfer our public lands to private hands – and apparently so does Aubrey Dunn.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Citing Rick Perry’s past calls to eliminate the Energy Department, and “an unwillingness to commit to the applied energy research and climate science done at our national labs and universities, and the transition team questionnaire that attacked the integrity of climate scientists,” US Senator Martin Heinrich voted NO today on the confirmation of former Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead Donald Trump’s Energy Department. The New York Times recently reported that Perry accepted Trump’s offer to be Energy Secretary believing it was a post to serve as a “global ambassador for America’s oil and gas companies.” Only after accepting did he learn that it was not that job at all. The Energy Department enjoys a special relationship with New Mexico. National labs, including Sandia and Los Alamos, as well as our country’s nuclear stockpile housed, in part, at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque are all under the purview of the Energy Secretary.
More than 50 state and local elected officials signed an open letter to New Mexico’s US Senators and Congressional delegation urging them to publicly oppose President Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Scroll down to join these leaders in opposing Pruitt for EPA administrator. As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Pruitt sued the EPA at least 14 times to oppose clean air and water rules. Mr. Pruitt also allowed Republican donors and oil industry executives to write his office’s climate change policies and official policy statement letters opposing climate change and EPA rules. The full Senate is expected to take up his nomination in the coming weeks.
Governor Martinez has appointed a former oil and gas company executive and top donor to her campaigns, PACs and Republican causes as the State’s new secretary of energy, minerals and natural resources department. Ken McQueen is the former Vice-President of WPX energy’s San Juan-area operations for the Oklahoma-based fossil fuel company, according to his LinkedIn profile. Public campaign finance records show that Martinez and WPX have a close relationship. The company has been one of the most consistent and largest donors to her campaigns, her PACs and campaigns of her legislative allies in Santa Fe. $10,000 to Advance New Mexico NOW PAC, Nov.
Donald Trump will name Oklahoma’s climate-denying, Big Oil attorney general to head the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s been an architect of a plan by conservative attorneys generals suing to undo the very agency Trump has now proposed him to lead and public records show that he allowed Republican donors and big oil executives to write climate policies for his office. Way back in 2011, industry lobbyists hailed new New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez for introducing new new dairy rules rolling back Gov. Richardson’s environmental protection rules. Those rules protected drinking water and nearby streams from being infected with manure and urine waste from nearby dairies but required environmental protections dairies opposed paying for. Months later, public records requests showed that dairy industry lobbyists who had funded her campaign wrote those rules introduced under Martinez’s name.
Facing an increasingly determined and growing community of protestors and pressure from federal legislators and community groups, the federal Army Corps of Engineers announced late Sunday that it would deny the permit for the last leg of the DAPL, a controversial federal oil pipeline through sacred tribal areas in North Dakota. New Mexicans have made high-profile efforts to join the opposition in recent months. State Democratic Party Chair Deb Haaland, herself the only Native party chair in the country, traveled there last month.
Senators Udall and Heinrich also issued letters to President Obama called for the permit denial.
Heinrich calls on Obama to move Dakota Access Pipeline | NM Political Report
Heinrich concerned over violence against Standing Rock protesters | NM Political Report
Udall also wants Dakota Access Pipeline moved, denounces violence | NM Political Report
From the New York Times:
“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Ms. Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
The administration also signaled its intent to require a full environmental impact report and public input. Both were deemed unnecessary by the applicants but were seen as critical components to future opposition plans.
Again, The Times:
The consideration of alternative routes “would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis,” Ms Darcy said in a statement.
Last week immigrant community members throughout New Mexico came together and submitted over 2,400 petitions to Gov. Martinez demanding she take action to protect the health and well being of their communities and increase renewable energy output in the state. The petition gathering was organized by Juntos: Our Air Our Water — a project of Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund — which organizes Latino communities to protect air and water and advocate for clean energy. From the Los Alamos Daily Post (emphasis added):
The petition gathering started early September after Juntos had conducted a survey, October 2015 through February 2016, which demonstrated that 89 percent of the surveyed families – mostly from the Latin immigrant community – expressed that their number one concern was the air quality and air pollution levels found in their communities. […]
The petitions recently turned in demand that the Martínez administration implement a strong plan to help our state transition to clean, renewable energy – specifically wind and solar energy – and creates more “green jobs”. Investments in renewable energy are investments in healthy families, and yet the Martinez administration continues to invest in dirty energy, despite its impact on New Mexicans’ air, land, water and health.