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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.

Anti-abortion Extremists Exploit COVID-19, Harass Women & Endanger Lives

It’s hard to miss: social media posts, newspaper articles, TV news segments, emails, text messages, billboards… all directing residents to stay at home unless essential services are needed to slow the spread of COVID-19. So why are anti-abortion extremists in New Mexico (and nationally) still gathering in front of medical facilities to harass women who are seeking reproductive care? 

Extremists like Right to Life New Mexico, 40 Days for Life New Mexico, the Sidewalk Advocates for Life and Abortion Free New Mexico mock the severity of the COVID-19 global pandemic with their actions which, ironically, endanger their own lives and the lives of their members, in addition to clinic patients. Amid this global pandemic, these groups are seen gathering to harass women who are seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive healthcare at local clinics. 

To the detriment of their members, these extremist groups are deliberately misleading their followers, spreading dangerously false information that “we’re close to a cure” for COVID-19 (See graphic below), endangering the lives of their members, the families that live with them and the public they subsequently interact with. The apparent “right to life” groups seem to have a blatant disregard for the living. 

It’s no surprise that extremist marching orders seem to be coming from Donald Trump, who, despite his own advisors warning the public about the severity of the pandemic, continues a drumbeat that underplays the severity of the outbreak here in the United States. 

But anti-abortion groups are no stranger to blocking access to healthcare, no matter the cost to human lives. Alongside a history of violence and bombings at abortion clinics, the exploitation of COVID-19 is one of the many disgusting and opportunistic actions this “movement” has engaged in- from the national level, all the way down to our neighborhoods. 

In case you missed it, here are some more recent examples:

At the national level, anti-abortion lawmakers snuck dangerous anti-abortion language into the coronavirus bill.In several states across the U.S. anti-abortion lawmakers have deemed abortion as non-essential, endangering the lives of women across their state who are seeking medical care.

NEW NUMBERS SHOW THE TRUE SCALE OF NEW MEXICO’S GROWING FLARING PROBLEM

The oil and gas industry has a dirty, and not so little, secret. There’s a movement to convince the public that natural gas is “clean” but methane leaks from these drilling sites are a huge and growing contributor to climate change in New Mexico. 

Here’s a video of a wellhead “venting” methane, as well as benzene and frankly other unknown material, on land utilized by a rancher in Rio Arriba County.  It’s telling how much gas is being released by the sound, louder than the running diesel engine and wind combined. 

Courtesy of Don Schreiber

And that’s not all, the oil and gas industry is also burning off literally tons of methane every day, wasting YOUR money, that should be going toward YOUR schools.  One metric the amount of wasted natural gas from New Mexico is MORE THAN the total amount of natural gas needed to heat every single home in the state EVERY YEAR. This was recently reconfirmed in an industry article from  S&P. 

“New Mexico’s top 15 oil and gas producers accounted for 78% of the 100.3 MMcf/d of natural gas the state’s operators flared in 2018, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of data collected by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division. That year, the industry vented or flared enough gas to exceed the 94.4 MMcf/d consumed by the state’s 592,775 residential customers.”

In that article,  S&P created a chart showing the worst polluters (let’s not mince words here, that’s what they are). This data comes directly from the Oil Conservation Division. 

 Flared (January – June)Company20182019Devon2,207,7752,250,606XTO494,9481,541,514Marathon1,302,5791,470,907WPX685,5541,418,580Oxy516,4271,289,238Amerdev300,1281,064,029COG1,915,7701,042,110BOPCO297,487912,654

Let’s look at a few of these.

Hundreds Advocate to Keep Abortion Safe and Legal at Respect NM Women Day of Action

By Erica Davis-Crump, ProgressNow NM Reproductive Justice Organizing & Content Associate

This week, hundreds of New Mexicans showed up to continue the stand for abortion access and reproductive justice. Respect New Mexico Women Coalition led the charge to help families find their lawmakers to make sure their voices were heard. The pressure is on New Mexico lawmakers to keep abortion safe and legal in our state, as the potential gutting of Roe. v Wade hangs in the balance within the coming months. 

Generations of families and women’s healthcare supporters flooded the roundhouse despite the snowy and icy weather conditions. (The epitome of “…  but nevertheless, she persisted.”) There is usually angst and animosity on rally/lobby days for the anti-abortion extremists.

Congressional campaign manager “shoots” at rainbow-colored piñata “for (NM Leg) passing SB5”

It’s astounding the kind of hatred that has become commonplace in the wake of the current administration’s rise to power. From full-on white supremacists marching in the streets to policy-oriented mandates that have caged children and deported veterans. Here in New Mexico, unfortunately, the theme seems to have continued right down the line, with multiple instances of the State Republican party either directly contributing to something hate-filled, or ignoring it when one of their surrogates does something. That being said, we don’t have high hopes that anything will come of this report, but it remains important as ever to call out hatred and bigotry when we see it. The following images were actually POSTED to the Republican Party of Otero County, New Mexico Facebook page by Amy Smith Barela, the Chair of that group.

GOP “Big Tent” Event is Small Circus Flop

It was an event that had been publicized for months- the Republican Party partnered with Cowboys for Trump (the GOP mouthpiece for their disgraced presidential candidate) to tout their “conservative unity” rally. It was meant to bring together anti-abortion extremists, gun extremists, and anyone from anti-vaxxers to the anti-taxers. The reality of the event? GOP staffers, a few speakers and a handful of horses. The GOP-organized event was a flop; most people inside the Roundhouse didn’t even know it was happening.

Abortion Bans Are About Power & Control of Women’s Bodies.

For any one of us who has been a survivor of rape, molestation, sexual harassment or domestic violence, we have been told over and over that these forms of abuse take place because the abuser wants to assert power and control over our bodies. Across the United States, there is an epidemic of politicians, governments and extremists who are trying to assert power and control over our bodies by means of banning abortion- a personal decision that should always remain between a person and their doctor. By taking away our personal decision-making abilities, we are being stripped of respect, and being stripped of autonomy. Anti-abortion extremists spend millions of dollars to shame, pressure, punish and harass us- proving that their interest is not about morals or religion: it’s about power and control. New Mexico has an old abortion ban on the books.

ProgressNow State Leaders Call For Vote Limiting Trump’s Power & Condemns Trump’s Hostile Rhetoric Which Puts All Americans In Danger

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 9, 2020

Over the past few days, we have become a country that is once again on the brink of war. This crisis was created because President Donald Trump was unable or unwilling to fully think through the very real consequences of his words and actions. 

ProgressNow affiliated states from across the country, released the following statement today: 

“Today we are calling on the U.S. House to vote to limit recently impeached President Trump’s ability to instigate global conflict, and calling on the President himself to act with diplomacy rather than the hostile and dangerous rhetoric we have seen come out of this administration over the past few days. 

Time and time again, we see both on a national level and an international level that Donald Trump’s extreme policies are dangerously out of touch with what Americans want and need. We do not mourn the death of General Soleimani, but we do want peace in the region. We need to build on—not reject—the Iranian nuclear deal and use the tools of diplomacy to pursue a coherent strategy and refrain from making illogical decisions that alienate our allies.   

The best way to support our brave men and women in uniform is to keep them from harm in a reckless and unnecessary conflict. The President created this crisis.