By Demis Foster, CVNM Executive Director
It’s disappointing that New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn felt the need to descend into shrill name-calling and blatant half-truths in his recent opinion piece. But maybe it should not be surprising. Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) clearly hit a nerve by simply reporting the facts on Gov. Martinez’s extremely poor track record on the environmental issues New Mexicans care about. It’s always easier to attack the messenger. Everyone can see that an “F” grade is simply unacceptable and needs vast improvement.
Martinez’s failures on protecting our air and water:
The facts on Gov. Martinez’s terrible track record speak for themselves. Gov. Martinez received an “F” in the recent Scorecard because she has repeatedly and aggressively championed polluting industries at the expense of the health and safety of New Mexicans. This includes:
- Gutting the “Pit Rule” that governed the management of dangerous waste from oil and gas operations. Now, New Mexico will be home to vast artificial lakes of toxic fracking fluids.
- Weakening the “dairy rule” that protected groundwater from contamination by manure lagoons.
- Allowing copper mining companies wide latitude to pollute our groundwater, setting a legal precedent for other industries to do the same.
- Vehemently opposing a bill that would have allowed the state to recover damages from polluters who contaminate groundwater.
- Repealing a rule that would have reduced New Mexico’s carbon pollution.
- Reversing green building codes that would have required greater energy efficiency.
Meanwhile, under Gov. Martinez, enforcement of vital clean air and clean water protections is virtually non-existent. For a career prosecutor, one might imagine that Martinez might at least prove vigilant about enforcing existing laws. On the contrary, enforcement actions — such as fines and penalties for violations — are down dramatically from prior administrations. In some cases, where Martinez doesn’t like the law, the simplest solution is not to enforce it. Naturally, her administration then aggressively opposed a legislative measure that would have allowed New Mexicans to protect their health, safety and property by pursuing environmental enforcement when the state failed to do its job.
The facts on CVNM:
Despite Secretary Flynn’s attempts to smear us, CVNM is a statewide, nonpartisan, nonprofit, member-based organization with more than 6,000 members and supporters. For more than a decade, we have been fighting to protect New Mexico’s air and water resources by holding our elected officials accountable for their decisions. Our successes include:
CVNM and our allies have defeated 100% of the anti-conservation bills in the legislature for 10 years. We are the go-to organization in the Roundhouse on environmental issues. Our information and analysis is thorough, accurate, honest and trusted.
CVNM worked with state officials, ranchers and agricultural leaders to pass the landmark Natural Heritage Conservation Act in 2010 which enabled New Mexico to fund conservation projects across the state – including protecting working farms and ranches.
CVNM continues to be a staunch supporter of the crucial fight against an ill-conceived diversion project on the Gila River, the last free-flowing river in the southwest.
We are amplifying the voices of the rural and Native communities in northwestern New Mexico, whose legacy of uranium mining contamination has been long ignored and that resulted in cancer being the leading cause of death in McKinley County in 2010.
In a time of extended drought, when water is scarce, it is a travesty that vital protections of our water are being rolled back.
By working to connect New Mexicans to their political power, we help ensure that our state’s long held conservation values are reflected in our elected officials’ policy decisions. A cornerstone of that work is holding our elected officials accountable for their actions that affect our communities. We did that with the Governor by grading her record and hundreds of CVNM members and supporters agree: her record is deeply disappointing.
New Mexico needs leaders who will put us on a path toward a sustainable economy, not ones who waste time trying to play kill the messenger, while simultaneously weakening the very air and water protections they were put in office to enforce.