Pearce Distracts to Save His Sinking Ship

The Republican acts of desperation have begun and Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce is acting as Trump’s clean-up crew for the November election. After Trump’s latest embarrassment in being outed for hiding the severity of COVID from the public, perhaps Pearce decided his party has nothing to stand on- so naturally, he tried to find a distraction to save his sinking ship. Either Pearce has been living under a rock or he’s trying to repackage old news. Just yesterday, Steve, and Candidate for House District 47 Raye Byford, decided to distract the public, with information we already knew, and had the gall to make a request of resignation of Speaker Egolf. Yes, Speaker Egolf was subject to a tax lien… that was resolved… and reported on months ago… way to go, Steve.

Show Up for Black and Brown Kids

TW: racism, murder, police brutality, family separation, sexual assault and abuse. Amid this week’s wave of protests across the country for Black Lives Matter, we’re left remembering the anniversaries of Emmett Till’s and Elijah McClain’s deaths, both falling in the same week. These weekly traumas from systemic failures that are carried out by law enforcement groups blatantly show us — they don’t care about Black and Brown youth. The question isn’t only “how do we handle this?” but it’s also “how do our kids cope, let alone understand, this?” 

As it is, POC folx are predisposed to many health issues, including intergenerational trauma. But to even begin to heal, we must become aware of our history to understand our current systems of oppression.

A reminder of the deep ties between Trump, his racist funders, and the oil and gas industry as a whole.

Arch Republican and avowed racist Couy Griffin has been invited to meet with Trump tomorrow while the President is in Texas to discuss the oil and gas industry as it tries to recover from being an outdated and overly-bloated relic of the industrial past. What do all these things have in common? 

Well over the weekend Griffin, an elected official from Otero County and leader of the so-called “Cowboys for Trump” militia, recorded himself calling for all people of color to be dispelled from the United States and to “to go back to where (they) came from.” Meanwhile, Trump today is attempting to bypass the Supreme Court’s recent decision on DACA by directing his administration to not accept new applications for those eligible for the program. And like, you know, all the other racist stuff he’s done over the past few years… (well, his life really). 

The story that other media outlets have refused to cover for well over a year now is the well-documented connection between oil and gas lobby groups here in New Mexico and racist, specifically White Nationalists, groups at the national level. 

So while some racists like Griffin and Trump shout their hatred of BIPOC from whatever mountain top they can, the more insidious problem is where they’re getting their money from, groups like the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and Power The Future, who together have spent millions of dollars to elect people like Griffin locally to support their industry with no accountability for their racist platform. We KNOW that NMOGA and PTF have also hired actual White Nationalists to manage their social media as well, through the guise of Harris Media in Texas, a PR firm that has been well documented in helping manage White Nationalist campaigns in Germany, Israel, and right here in the US. 

We also know that at the national level, Power the Future has members of its board with close ties to Trump’s official campaign with access to literally MILLIONS of dollars to fund astroturf campaigns like PTF in states like New Mexico. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve reported this but maybe while people are paying attention to the loud parts like Griffin yelling “go back to Africa” they can take the time to think about how all this is funded and works behind the scenes too. NMOGA and PTF aren’t operating in a vacuum, their membership includes groups like the City of Albuquerque and other municipalities in the state, so there are some direct ties to your tax dollars and how these racist groups are able to continue controlling government in the state of New Mexico.

Why New Mexico needs its own state methane rule now more than ever

You may have seen the news last night or this morning that a judge has reinstated Obama-era methane rules nationwide effective immediately. While this is a great win, it’s temporary given the decision will likely be appealed and the oil and gas industry’s challenge to the original 2016 rule in the District Court of Wyoming will be revived. 

At some point, we would love to see a strong, comprehensive federal methane regulation because air and climate pollution doesn’t stop at the state line, but for New Mexicans, there’s no time to waste. 

Under guidance from Governor Lujan Grisham’s 2019 Executive Order, state agencies have been hard at work to craft a rule that would apply to oil and gas companies in New Mexico that vent, flare, or otherwise leak methane. Methane emissions aren’t just about the greater impact of climate change (methane is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the near-term at trapping heat), but also affect the air we breathe. Oil and gas producing counties are dangerously close to exceeding federal clean air protections for smog, and those living closest to development are more at risk of exposure to hazardous air pollutants. 

One study found that this pollution was literally a matter of life and death to marginalized communities that live near active well zones. In a recent report from Energywire, there is a documented negative effect of rates of preterm birth among women in areas with concentrations of methane like the Permian or San Juan basins. 

“The authors said their findings ‘suggest the effects of flaring on the length of gestation are independent’ of other potential health risks tied to living near oil and gas wells.

2020 Special Session Recap

Well we made it through another special session of the New Mexico Legislature and a few weeks later we continue to reflect on the wins, the losses, and the absolute ridiculousness of some of the debates. While some important pieces of legislation were passed and a compromise budget was agreed to, there was a lot left to be desired. But we get it, the Senate specifically couldn’t do EVERYTHING on the table, they had to save THREE AND HALF HOURS to pat each other on the back and complement each other for all the work they haven’t done in the last 20 years. Sure will be nice to have new Senators in 2021 who seem willing to actually get to work. 

If you’ve ever wondered why the NM Senate doesn’t seem to get things done, especially in the last few years since Progresive Democrats took back the House with such gusto in 2016, look no further than how SB4 was treated this past session. 

SB4 is an election reform bill designed with input from the Secretary of State and multiple County Clerks from around the state. One of the major points of that bill was to allow County Clerks who chose to opt in to mail ballots directly to voters without having to go through the application process which confused and bogged down the system this past month during the primaries.

Despite price crash, Big Oil is still spending big in New Mexico elections

As the price of crude oil continues to struggle given the global pandemic and reduced demand and overproduction, America’s oil companies are seeking access to government programs to grant them “liquidity” during these “tough times.” They keep saying they’re not asking for a bailout, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, right? 

But wait, if times are so tough, how are these companies spending so much money to try and influence elections in places like New Mexico? Apparently, they can’t even “afford” to abide by decade-old EPA regulations, according to their own spokespeople. National companies like Chevron and big companies in the state like Mack and Yates, along with their lobbyist lackeys, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and Power the Future, have amassed over $700,000 in the latest campaign finance reports, and we’re still a week out from early voting starting. To be clear, that’s new money since the last reports, those PACs all have other funds available as well, from previous campaigns. 

According to the most recent financial reporting documents filed with the Secretary of State, three big PACs have amassed a huge war chest aimed at pushing their industry-first policies across state government. Oh, and that doesn’t include spending from national Super PACs like Citizens for a United New Mexico which has over $70,000 on hand to spend on just ONE race.

What regulations? Oil and Gas Giants refuse to tell New Mexicans if they’re following federal health standards

An article from the past weekend from the Santa Fe New Mexican titled “Environmental groups worry EPA memo will lead to uptick in pollution” is worth taking a second look at for anyone paying attention to the oil and gas industry. 

For some context, the Trump Administration has offered the industry a get out of jail free card from  Environmental Protection Act enforcement during the COVID-19 crisis, essentially making decades of important health and safety rules moot. t’s not hard to assume that as soon as the overseeing agency says they’re not going to be checking up that the oil and gas industry will stop complying with our health-based clean air and water laws. 

According to the article from this weekend, that’s pretty much what’s happening. 

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Chevron, Veronica Flores-Paniagua, forwarded a blog post from the American Petroleum Institute, which had originally asked the EPA for the monitoring flexibility, that claimed the “temporary relief for non-essential compliance requirements” does not constitute a rollback of environmental enforcement. Julie King, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil, also said the energy company complies “with all laws, rules and regulations applicable to our business.” Neither said, however, whether the two companies would voluntarily continue to submit emissions reports or other previous environmental requirements that can be temporarily waived by the EPA. Right… So the spokespeople say they’re going to keep complying with EPA standards, but also won’t say if they’re going to submit the actual reports to prove that they are. What’s that old saying about trust but verify? 

And meanwhile the state’s three deep pocketed oil and gas front groups, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA), the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico (IPANM) and Power the Future are all lobbying for relaxed and delayed environmental protections as well. 

So what about the state’s ability to monitor these companies?

Voting in the time of COVID-19 *UPDATED*

In the midst of this unprecedented time, we wanted to provide a place for everyone to find out what resources were available to continue participating in our democracy to the best of your ability. 

A recent New Mexico Supreme Court decision declared that in-person voting must still be an option, so early voting will begin in-person May 5th. However, because the extent to which communities will still be under stay-at-home orders because of Covid-19, if you are able to vote absentee it is a safe and easy choice to continue your social distancing. First of all, applying for an absentee ballot is an option. RIGHT NOW! Click on this link to be taken directly to the Secretary of State’s Absentee Ballot Application page.

Oil and Gas industry trying to cut the line while putting us all at risk

Considering the unprecedented nature of our current public health and economic crisis, you might be surprised (or not) to know who’s trying to take advantage of the situation for their benefit. Yup, you guessed it, it’s the Oil and Gas Industry (of course). 

The reaches the oil and gas industry are going for are actually astounding given the circumstances — who else would even consider trying to relax and delay rules that protect public health during a public health crisis? Or give themselves a bailout at the expense of New Mexico’s schools, teachers and first responders at the exact moment the state is dealing with a budget crisis? 

This has been true at the national level as well as here in New Mexico with groups like the American Petroleum Institute, Power the Future and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association trying to use this crisis to advocate for weaker regulatory requirements and shirk their financial obligations to New Mexico taxpayers. And what’s even worse- the Trump Administration is giving this industry even more than it’s asking for, including a broad suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce its own rules. We’d understand if you missed headlines such as “Trump’s Move to Suspend Enforcement of Environmental Laws is a Lifeline to the Oil Industry” while worried about everything else, but truly this is a devastating turn of events for all of us, the air we breathe and the water we drink. 

The American Petroleum Institute (API) asked for a “lifeline” but Trump’s administration sent them a yacht.