Nationally funded group hires local GOP spokesperson to try and greenwash the energy debate in NM

Print More

It’s late spring in New Mexico and everything is sprouting, even new dark money funded pro energy groups. One called “Power the Future” just cropped up and hired a recycled Susana Martinez political operative as their New Mexico lead in an attempt to hide their east coast home base. But don’t worry, we have pulled the weeds on this one to show you where their roots and branches really lead. It’s not pretty.

The oil and gas industry and the heavily funded political arms they control are springing forward with aggression and are using this time in New Mexico to try and stir the pot and sow seeds of discord when it comes to the huge progress we’ve made by passing the Energy Transition Act, moving toward stronger statewide oil and gas regulations and other efforts to promote a cleaner energy future under Governor Lujan Grisham.

You may have seen a new out of state group called “Power the Future” has hired former Governor Susana Martinez mouthpiece, Larry Behrens, as their Western States Director and he hasn’t wasted any time decrying the efforts made by New Mexico to lead on climate and clean energy with a recent OpEd published around the state.

There are two important things to realize about this and we’re going to break down both sides of the issue so you can see how yet another deep-pocketed, out-of-state conservative group trying to influence New Mexico’s future.

First of all, let’s talk about Power the Future in general. Power the Future is a communications brand that focuses on promoting the extraction industry to undermine efforts like those in New Mexico to move toward clean and renewable energy.

The “group” was founded by one Daniel Turner and until recently it was just him. And oh boy does this guy have some “interesting” ideas:

Climate change denial:

And jingoistic anti-immigration:

It’s unclear where Turner and Power the Future receives funding from because of the 501c4 tax status, but the following paragraph from DesmogBlog sums up Power the Future pretty well.

Despite declaring that it does not lobby, Power the Future’s About page says that its non-profit designation is a 501c4. This tax designation means a lot. There are two main types of nonprofit organizations, 501c3 and 501c4. Organizations with c3 status are charities and are allowed to do minimal lobbying (typically less than 10 percent of its budget.) C4s, on the other hand, can do unlimited lobbying on issues and legislation relevant to their social welfare missions. Power the Future claims not to be funded by corporations, but the corporate ties are strong. Turner previously worked for two different Koch groups — the Koch Institute and the youth-targeted Generation Opportunity. There’s no mention of this on the website, but by targeting environmentalists Turner is still serving Koch interests.”

If this all sounds kind of familiar, it’s because we’ve seen it before in New Mexico. Power the Future is the basically the environmental policy equivalent of Americans for Prosperity, the  Koch funded PAC that has undermined Labor and Unions for years and spawned a sub-group based right here in New Mexico called the LIBRE Initiative.

You might remember the big push by AFP right here in New Mexico last year to push through so-called “Right to Work” policies in some NM counties.

Secondly, who is Power the Future’s New Mexico director? Behrens has seemingly never held a job outside the conservative political operative sphere.  Behrens was Governor Martinez’s Communications Director until he left last year in August. Before that he was the communications guy under Martinez’s much maligned Public Education Department. And since leaving the Martinez camp, he worked in the Roundhouse during this past session, as the flamethrowing spokesperson for the minority House GOP. And while Power the Future doesn’t like clean energy, they apparently love recycling political hacks, hiring Behrens less than a month after leaving the Roundhouse.

The rhetoric in his OpEd is clearly taken directly from his boss Daniel Turner’s own site and philosophy, hardly ever saying what he really means but using the term “energy over a dozen times in place of saying oil and gas. He leans on his “being from New Mexico” credentials a little too hard though, considering he works for a guy who’s from New York, lives in Washington DC and has longterm ties to the conservative Koch money machine.

New Mexicans know that creating the jobs of the future in clean energy is the reality we want and the one we’re all on board to work toward. Creating jobs by promoting clean, renewable energy sources and cutting down on our state’s huge and growing methane pollution problem is the right path forward. These goals don’t threaten workers, they empower them and help diversify our state’s economy.

So just remember in the months ahead as you hear more shrill rhetoric from Power the Future and Behrens, whose water they are carrying on these issues and let’s remind them that we as New Mexicans support Governor Lujan Grisham’s vision of New Mexico as the Clean Energy State.