In politics there’s a concept called a “mandate” that for all intents and purposes indicates that we the people have granted express permission, if not demand for, action to be taken on a particular issue. We know that front-of-mind issues like access to abortion and literally our democracy were on the ballot this past week, but young voters across New Mexico AND across the country also voted for climate action.
We’re fortunate in New Mexico to have a jump on the issue with the current leadership of Michelle Lujan Grisham who’s first act as Governor in 2019 was executive action on methane mitigation which she and her administration has followed through on.
But there’s so much more to do and time is simply of the essence.
We saw that once again the Big Oil CEOs and lobbyists tried their hardest to swing the election their way by DUMPING money into races up and down the state. And yes, some Democrats took that money and we’ll have to watch how that affects things at the Roundhouse this year and in coming years, but as the lion’s share of that money went to defeated Republican candidates, it is clear that the mandate of the voters in New Mexico is to move the state away from its dependence on oil and gas. And that goes for both the revenue on which we are woefully reliant as well as the outsized role the whole industry has on our politics.
So let’s keep building on the successes we’ve seen in the last four years. The state’s last black-smoke-belching coal mine is closed. The state land office TRIPLED the amount of renewable energy is being produced on state lands. The state passed nation-leading rules that mitigate methane emissions from well to pipeline, not to mention other greenhouse gas emission controls. Work on renewable energy and electrification has started in earnest with help from President Biden and national Democratic policy. Another thing that has started with help from federal dollars is cleaning up the mess of abandoned oil wells left from literal decades of abuse by oil companies.
But we can and must do more. While the Energy Transition Act helped lay the groundwork on how the state will ween itself off fossil fuel energy by 2050, we must start tackling other issues that affect our climate and communities right now. A broad-spectrum climate bill that enshrines the need for EVERY state office to consider its impact on climate change must make it through the legislature. We must continue to fight back against the outright lies about hydrogen production as a miracle energy source as long as those claims are coming from the oil and gas industry just looking for a new market for their failing industry. And most of all we must continue to think about and pass policy that includes voices from every community and listen to how our decisions impact everyone in the state, not just those holding the pursestrings of governance.
The voters of New Mexico RESOUNDINGLY sent a message of support for clear and bold action on climate and we will be working everyday for the next four years (and beyond) to see it to fruition!