After weeks of speculation over which pro-fossil fuel leader Trump would place in charge of our national parks, public lands and oil/gas/coal resources, the President-elect today named Montana’s Congressman Ryan Zinke his Secretary-designate of the US Dept. of Interior. Who is he and what does that mean for our country and New Mexico? Here’s a quick primer:
Zinke’s homestate newspaper, The Billings Gazette, has said that Congressman Zinke’s efforts are clearly intended to “rob Montanans (and all citizens) of money that’s rightfully theirs.”
After first campaigning on support for President Obama’s climate action plans, he suddenly became a science denier. Not coincidentally, he took in almost $350,000 in campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry since his overnight change.
Almost exactly a month after he first announced that he was considering a run for governor, New Mexico’s senior senator said today that he’s sticking with the senate. That announcement (full text below), is likely good news for Albuquerque-area Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham who is widely expected to announce for governor soon. Other names rumored to be considering a run for the Democratic nomination include Attorney General Hector Balderas, Santa Fe businessman and former candidate Alan Webber and former Univision executive Jeff Apodaca. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Congressman Steve Pearce have both been rumored to be considering a run to follow Susana Martinez who is term limited in 2018. From Sen. Udall today:
Udall: Staying in the Senate is the Best Way I can Fight for New Mexico
U.S. Senator Tom Udall issued the following statement:
“I am very grateful for the support of so many New Mexicans who have personally urged me to run for governor in 2018.
As President-Elect, Donald Trump is wasting no time filling his administration with hardliners pro-corporate, anti– (well, most anything progressive) leadership (they are also all white guys, have you noticed?). With a White Nationalist as a chief advisor and an attorney general who was rejected for a federal judgeship because of racists remarks, what else could they do to reverse centuries of progress in just four years? Turning over control of national parks and public lands to a corporate big oil tycoon, for one; and New Mexico’s Senator Martin Heinrich isn’t having it. This tweet from Heinrich is getting a lot of attention:
What has him all riled up? Probably this note from Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON ― President-elect Donald Trump is just starting to arrange the team that will advise him and implement his policy agenda.
The Oil and Gas industry says they can’t afford to keep paying their rent to New Mexico because of the drop in energy prices so Republican State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn directed his office on Monday to allow companies to skip paying the rent they owe the state to lease public land for drilling. “The beneficiaries of state trust lands — mainly the public schoolchildren of New Mexico — will be better served if wells are temporarily shut in, rather than producing at a lower price,” Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn told KOB. Hold on there Mr. Dunn: aren’t those big oil and gas companies shelling out HUGE amounts of political donations to bankroll negative attack ads against Democrats around the state? According to FollowTheMoney.org, Big Oil has contributed $942,495 to candidates directly in New Mexico so far this year (again, just for candidates).
And Republicans have received the lion’s share of Big Oil money in 2016, no surprise.
All is not well in North Dakota. For months, members of local tribal groups and other private landowners have been battling an oil pipeline designed to move tar sand oil from Canada down to US manufacturing interests in the gulf. This particular pipeline is slated to go UNDER the Missouri River, a key source of drinking water for tribal groups in the area as well as millions of others down river. Did you know that there have been at least 18 pipeline spills in the US this year already? Two already IN THE LAST 3 DAYS, one in California and another in Louisiana.
As the third highest office in the state, the SOS is responsible for filling that role when the Governor and Lt. Governor are unavailable. And it happens more often than you might think.
Since GOP stalwart Dianna Duran’s spectacular fall from grace last year, the current interim Secretary of State, Brad Winter, has stepped up into the acting governor role at least three times.
And that should have your really worried considering one of the two candidates for that position this November is Nora Espinoza and even acting governors can control the national guard (and so so much more).
Espinoza was quoted in an interview this week saying that, “her work ‘has given me the kind of experience required for supervising the staff and operations of an administrative office, one geared to ensuring that procedures and policies are carried out in accordance with the law and established rules.’ ”
Take a look at a few of the proposals Espinoza has championed from her perch as State legislator (and imagine what she would do if she had full authority to direct the state police, national guard or guard the state’s checkbook without anyone requiring anyone else’s approval at all).
New Mexico’s lone Tea Party congressman just joined a very special club. In recognition of his work to sell off New Mexico (and our country’s) national parks and public lands, the Center for American Progress named Steve Pearce to the new Anti-Parks caucus along with 19 other federal representatives and senators who have filed at least 44 different bills to sell off or otherwise exploit our national parks and public spaces for profit since 2013. Much like the dad in “A Christmas Story,” this recognition must make Pearce very proud. In recognition of his work to sell off New Mexico (and our country’s) national parks and public lands, the Center for American Progress named Steve Pearce to the new Anti-Parks caucus along with 19 other federal representatives and senators who have filed at least 44 different bills to sell off or otherwise exploit our national parks and public spaces for profit since 2013. From our friends at CAP:
A Center for American Progress analysis found that between January 2013 and March 2016 members of Congress filed at least 44 bills or amendments that attempted to remove or undercut protections for parks and public lands—making the 114th Congress the most anti-conservation Congress in recent history…
A stark display of Republican priorities in New Mexico came to the fore today (to the detriment of all New Mexicans), as evidenced by two key committee votes. Here’s what happened today:
As Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican so concisely put it:
In a straight-party vote, a bill that would have required more information from lobbyists and the people who hire them just stalled in the House Regulatory & Public Affairs Committee. That’s right. Republican House members continue to show their true stripes now that they’re in the majority and continue their march against transparency and governmental openness by siding with special interest lobbyists. Rep. Jeff Steinborn’s HB 155 would have done a few supremely common sense things, including:
Requiring lobbyists to disclose the legislative or administrative issue for which the lobbyist is employed
Requiring expenditure statements and lobbying expense reports to include the cumulative total of expenditures incurred by the lobbyist or their employer listed by each recipient, indicating the amount spent and a description of the expenditure by category
Lowering from $500 to $100 the amount of aggregate contributions that triggers mandatory reporting of identification information for other contributors
Requiring registration and expenditure statements and lobbying expense reports to be posted on the Secretary of State’s website in searchable and downloadable formats at least monthly throughout the year and as expeditiously as possible when the legislature is in session;
ALEC Chair (and Chairwoman of House Regulatory of Public Affairs) Rep. Yvette Herrell had this to say about the Republican decision:
Committee Chairwoman Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, said the bill was asking for “too much information.”
The US Department of Interior is inviting the public to join Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for a public meeting this Friday in Las Cruces. In 2012, ProgressNowNM joined cohorts in Colorado and Nevada with the “Monumental West” campaign to engage more New Mexicans in the long-standing efforts by national and in-state groups to designate the Rio Grande del Norte and Organ Mountains wilderness areas as national monuments. At least 175 local organizations have joined in support of a national monument designation for the Organ Mountains area. A number of proposals for monument designation have been introduced in Congress. Tea Party Rep. Steve Pearce introduced a measure to designate a small portion of the area as a monument, but also includes large, and many say unnecessary, carve-outs for continued use of the land. Senators Udall and Heinrich have jointly sponsored (read story here) legislation that would designate about a half-million acres of land around the Organ, Doña Ana, Potrillo, Robledo and Uvas mountains as a national monument. DOI’s event Friday is co-hosted with the senators.