FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Focus will be on methane capture, Gila Diversion and Volkswagen Settlement
Santa Fe, N.M. – Today, Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM), the leading statewide environmental advocacy organization in the state, announces key administration priorities under the new administration.
As Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration continues its transition, CVNM will focus on three major public policies which the organization has been engaged in for years.
“Now that we have the right people in office who are listening to their constituents and reflecting their deeply-rooted, shared conservation values, the door is finally open to make progress on these important issues,” says Ben Shelton, CVNM Political & Legislative Director. “These priorities are the critical steps we must take to help correct our course and make progress on the climate crisis and environmental injustices impacting our communities.”
CVNM’s administrative policy priorities are as follows:
- Reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry by creating a state methane capture rule. Methane is a super pollutant that is an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide—in terms of both climate change and quality of the air we breathe. Methane escapes with other toxic air pollutants like volatile organic compounds that contribute to smog formation and carcinogens like benzene. That means when methane is leaked, vented and flared into our air, it can spike asthma attacks and cancer rates. And more methane is emitted into the air here than any other state. In fact, NASA discovered a giant methane “hotspot” the size of Delaware hovering over the San Juan Basin. It is one of the highest concentrations of airborne methane in the nation – and it disproportionately impacts rural, indigenous and Latino families in the Four Corners region by contributing to higher rates of asthma in communities already coping with a legacy of air and water pollution. In a landmark executive order to address climate change, Gov. Lujan Grisham ordered the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and Environment departments to begin the process of promulgating a methane capture rule. A new study released Thursday shows methane emissions roughly double what was estimated for New Mexico just two years ago before the rapid increase in drilling began in the Permian Basin in Eddy County, highlighting the urgent need to get these emissions under control.
- Revisit the Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement to better reflect the input received from the public. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled with Volkswagen over Clean Air Act violations after the car company cheated on clean air testing for their diesel vehicles. Under former Gov. Martinez, the New Mexico Environment Department ignored the majority of public comments in support of utilizing these funds to transition diesel school buses to zero-emissions electric school buses. Electric school buses will reduce the impacts of diesel pollution on children in Albuquerque’s West Gate and South Valley neighborhoods where they are disproportionately impacted by poor air quality. This presents a great opportunity to implement a solution that would directly assist the very communities impacted by dirty diesel and poor air quality, primarily low-income and communities of color.
- Stop the Gila Diversion and begin an earnest investigation of how to better deliver water to more communities in southwest New Mexico. In 2004, Congress passed the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) that authorized diversion of the Gila River if New Mexico agreed to buy water from Arizona to replace what we take out of the river. The AWSA provided $66 million for community water projects to meet local water needs and up to $62 million more if NM elects to divert and pipe the Gila River. The best cost estimates out there show that a diversion will cost at least $300 million. In addition to the negative environmental impacts of this boondoggle, the proposed diversion is unfair and unaffordable for the people of southwest New Mexico and the rest of the state. The federal subsidy will not cover the full cost of the proposed action, leaving a gap of tens of millions of dollars for citizens to cover and will be spent to pipe a small amount of new irrigation water to a few irrigators and international mining giant Freeport-McMoRan. This is unfair to the 60,000 people of southwest New Mexico whose water systems need improvements.
“New Mexicans are ready for our leaders to correct our course and take the first critical steps down a path that leads to a healthier and more resilient state,” says Demis Foster, CVNM Executive Director. “When we get these policy changes over the finish line, we will have made significant progress to ensure we invest in our communities and everyone pays their fair share.”
For more information or for interviews, please contact Liliana Castillo at 575-219-9619 or Liliana@CVNM.org.
Conservation Voters New Mexico is a statewide, nonpartisan nonprofit committed to connecting New Mexicans to their political power to protect our air, land and water for healthy Land of Enchantment. We do this by mobilizing voters, winning elections, holding decision-makers accountable and advancing responsible public policies.
Contact: Liliana Castillo at 505-819-7508 or Liliana@CVNM.org