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Moving forward on the Energy Transition Act

By March 16, 2019April 29th, 2022Climate & Energy, Legislature

As the Energy Transition Act (ETA) moved through the legislative process, indigenous community members raised their voices and concerns that there is “no just transition without indigenous consultation.”

We agree. As one of the key players in the large coalition supporting the ETA and an organization that has made a commitment to addressing environmental injustice, we acknowledge that we could have done more to ensure all stakeholders had a place at the table throughout every step of the ETA process.

The ETA had moved far into the legislative process when it became clear that some voices were still missing. Indigenous allies raised the need to improve the bill by formalizing indigenous consultation in the process set up by the ETA. We ensured those changes were proposed as amendments and included in the final bill – which passed with bipartisan support.

As we move forward, we will hold ourselves to a higher standard and leverage our political power to bring indigenous and impacted communities to the table

These concerns were raised by allies that we respect and whose voices we value. We recognize that these communities should always lead and inform these processes.

Indigenous communities should be brought to the table for many reasons, including:

  • We are all on sacred indigenous land. We recognize the importance of tribal consultation in the policy process, and, despite a history of this not happening, we are committed to and working to change that in our own policy work. This means informing tribal communities of policy changes that impact them and confirming their consent, input and approval before moving forward.
  • Indigenous communities are directly impacted by extractive industry. In their own words: “Being from frontline communities, we bear the biggest impacts to our health and the devastation of our land, water, air, plants and animals.”
  • The ETA is the most important energy policy that the legislature debated this session. In their own words: “Energy policy decisions directly and disproportionately impact our communities.” We acknowledge this and will make it our priority moving forward to ensure these communities are at the table and included in these critical decision-making processes.

The Energy Transition Act is a complex bill on an even more complex issue. When Governor Lujan Grisham’s administration proposed the bill that combined the increased clean energy standard that we had been working on for more than two years and a financial tool called “securitization” that helps close coal plants earlier, we needed to quickly learn what was in the securitization component of the bill. We had opposed an earlier version of securitization in the 2018 legislative session and wanted to ensure that this version protected ratepayers, coal workers and the affected communities.

But when we learned that the bill would enable PNM, the majority owner in the San Juan Generating Station coal plant, to utilize securitization in a way that would also make it possible to direct significant funding – nearly double from the proposal in 2018 – back into the region that has depended on and been most impacted by coal production, we supported the bill, and successfully helped pass it through the legislature

The ETA is our top legislative priority – and the day after it passed, our team came together to acknowledge that not all indigenous communities in the state were brought to the table when they should have been and analyzed how we could avoid this misstep in the future. This is part of a larger conversation that our team is just beginning, but here’s what we are committed to moving forward

CVNM is committed to facilitating proactive outreach to communities impacted by environmental injustice across the state to learn about how we can be better allies in the political systems we work in

CVNM is committed to continuing to analyze organizational policies and procedures to ensure they are inclusive and fair to all.

CVNM is committed to identifying what our team and organization needs to learn to ensure our work is implemented in a way that encourages inclusivity and equity.

We acknowledge that the political system that CVNM works in perpetually leaves out impacted communities. We commit to building structures across our work to ensure impacted communities are brought into these processes and fast-paced decision-making moments like those in the legislative session.

Make no mistake – passing the Energy Transition Act is a huge victory for our state.

It will make New Mexico a leader in clean, renewable energy and puts us on an ambitious path to 100% carbon-free energy. With the ETA, New Mexico is addressing the climate crisis head on, which is critical as communities are already feeling the impacts of climate change

It will create a path to close the nation’s most-polluting coal plant in a way that protects workers and utility ratepayers.

It will direct more than $40 million in funding back into the Four Corners region for economic diversification and to ensure coal plant and mine workers are re-trained for the clean energy jobs of the future, including creating a $2 million Energy Transition Indian Affairs Fund to create an assistance plan to assist impacted indigenous communities

Most importantly, the Energy Transition Act is the beginning of a process to equitably transition to a clean energy economy, and we are committed to bringing impacted communities to the table. We hope you will join us and continue your support.