An updated Renewable Portfolio Standard is key to moving Farmington, and New Mexico, forward

This is the third in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington, New Mexico, and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. In today’s piece, we’ll be looking at complementary legislation that needs to be implemented in the state to ensure areas like Farmington can continue to thrive well into the future. Last week we looked specifically at how securitization could help PNM recoup its costs as it transitions from coal-generated power to renewable sources, while also helping the Four Corners area transition to a new and more diverse economy. The second part of that prospect though is ensuring that utilities like PNM actually DO get their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by legislating what is known as a “Renewable Portfolio Standard,” which spells out exactly how much energy must be derived from renewable sources and by when. A quick aside here on language for this piece: Renewable energy in the broad sense is energy created from clean sources like solar or wind as opposed to energy from fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, or oil.

Straight ticket voting helps voters: It’s constitutional

On August 29, New Mexico Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, announced that she will reinstate straight party voting.  Why would New Mexicans be against something that can make voting easier? The Republican Party of New Mexico says that this is a partisan move that will only help Democrats down the ballot- but are Republicans not also a major party in New Mexico?  Not to mention the Libertarians will have a spot just for them at the top of the ballot. The GOP joined a lawsuit along with the Libs and other smaller parties to stop the move from being instituted by the SOS.

The elephant in the room: Pat Rogers and the democrats who back him

Yesterday, we introduced you to Pat Rogers, the itinerant Republican lawyer who seems committed to stopping progress at every turn in and around Albuquerque. We started our series with a synopsis of Rogers’ peculiar schemes to kill ABQ Democracy Dollars at the Bernalillo County Commision. But the bigger story is that just about every time community organizers in Albuquerque fight to return some agency to the people over corporate interests, or to boost the well-being of workers over big business profits, Pat Rogers is on hand like the grim reaper. Only a lot more smug. But his ability to swing citizen initiatives isn’t done in a vacuum. The voting members of the county commission and city council are culpable, even some Democrats.

The elephant in the room: Who is GOP operative Pat Rogers?

“Why I only got a problem when you in the hood?” -Kanye West, The Good Life
That was the theme of last week’s Bernalillo County Commission meeting when several commissioners threw a bizarre curveball at what should have been an otherwise homerun for democracy in Albuquerque and eventually statewide. In the preceding months, over 28,000 Burqueños had signed a petition to put the ABQ Democracy Dollars initiative on the November ballot and organizers had followed the process “to a T.” Excitement about the campaign was buzzing and on the night of the hearing, supporters packed the commission chambers. Only one individual showed up to oppose the measure – attorney Pat Rogers. But that’s when Commissioners Steven Michael Quezada and Jim Smith, along with the help of County Attorney Kenny Martinez (formerly NM State House Speaker), performed a charade of question and answer about the initiative’s content (kinda like the mailman debating whether to deliver the shirt you ordered because it’s not his style) – and ultimately blocked the initiative (2-2). So who is Pat Roger’s and how did his presence relate?

Securitization: What it means for Farmington, PNM, and New Mexico

This is the second in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington, New Mexico, and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. Last week we looked at how Farmington and surrounding areas are facing real-time issues when it comes to their future. The San Juan Generating Plant is scheduled to close in just the next few years, which will likely mean a loss of jobs for many workers there. That, of course, will impact the economy of the whole region.

Pearce hypocrisy: Toll roads good, methane controls bad

This week, Rep. Steve Pearce proposed toll roads as the answer to the massive amounts of traffic on Southeastern New Mexico highways due to the boom in oil production and the corresponding increase in oil traffic. The increased congestion along highway 285 outside of Lovington has given it the dubious nickname “highway of death.” The idea is that new and improved roads be paid for by the oil and gas companies who so heavily utilize the roads. 
But Congressman Pearce is fighting tooth and nail to overturn methane waste rules that ask these some companies to pay for the millions of tons of New Mexico’s natural gas they waste every year – rules that would mean millions in additional state revenue for things like these very roads. everyone would have to pay the tolls. 
Residents in New Mexico’s oil patch already pay a high price because of where they live and the associated oil and gas industry impacts. Increased pollution leading to higher rates of asthma and other respiratory issues and the associated healthcare costs that accompany that.

As Farmington goes, so goes New Mexico: A look at the changing landscape of our state

This is the first in a series focusing on the long-term economic and social issues facing Farmington New Mexico and surrounding areas. As a region that has rich and diverse opportunities but generally relies on extractive industries economically, the whole area is facing uncertainty as the coal-burning San Juan Coal Generating Station closes its doors and oil jobs are moving to the southeast part of the state to capitalize on the Permian boom happening right now. Farmington has always been a crossroads of sorts, situated uniquely at the confluence of three rivers and in modern times, highways and railroads. But as we move into the third decade of the twenty-first century, Farmington and other cities in the tri-county area of northwest New Mexico will be facing major changes as coal is phased out. No matter what the Trump administration says, or any campaign stumps from politicians like Steve Pearce promise, coal has seen its heyday and it’s never going to be a reliable commodity to build an industry on again.

10 Reasons why Gary Johnson Is Wrong for New Mexico

Wait… What!? Gary Johnson is back in NM?! *facepalm*

Perrinial “outsider” and self-proclaimed “dumbest guy you’ve ever met in your whole life” Gary Johnson is officially back in New Mexico once again trying to stay relevant. Johnson filed paperwork with the Secretary of State Tuesday to run as a Libertarian, taking the place of current Commissioner of Public Lands, Aubrey Dunn. 

But before we get all hung up on the spectacle of another semi-celebrity running for office, we thought it’d be important to remind people where old Gary really stands on the issues.

Nationwide primary trends show Blue Wave is gathering. Oh, and Missouri voters REJECT RTW outright

Yesterday was Election Day in Washington, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, and Missouri and while not every progressive candidate won major landslide victories, across the country gains were made.  More women and people of color were running than ever before and their continued successes means that, while our federal system was created to take time to change, change is coming! One of the races progressive poll watchers are most excited for is Sharice Davids, who is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and an out lesbian. After winning her primary yesterday, she will face off against Representative Kevin Yoder (R) in Kansas’s Third Congressional District in November.  In Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer won a three-way primary that included two men of color.

So that Russian spy that was just arrested? Turns out she lived with a guy that Steve Pearce may know

For now, we know that Pearce likely knows Erickson, the man who lived with and connected a young Russian woman accused of using her influence to further financial and political sway between pro-gun Russian and US organizations and activists. What role Erickson has ever played for Pearce directly is unknown, but given the congressman’s deep pockets and generous donations from the NRA over the last decade, it’s certainly worth considering.