PNM Eliminating Coal. Not for Climate, but for Profit

A good news day: First, as predicted in Thursday’s post, it won’t be climate issues or the EPA that move utility companies to go solar, it is profit, and PNM is going green. Another report predicts a significant shift to blue in governor’s races in 2018, and surprise Susana is seeing red as she is wrong again about our budget. Not a bad news day for once.


Today’s Events. Before diving in, click here to get to our Events & Opportunities page and information about today’s Science March and other events over the next couple weeks.  Today’s KSFR Retake Our Democracy show at 11 on KSFR 101.1 will focus on climate change and making the economic transition from fossil fuels to renewables and how that might play out in the Four Corners community. Mariel Nanasi and Jessica Montoya from New Energy Economy, Hazel James from the San Juan Collaborative and Terry Smith, a former San Juan coal miner and member of the Shiprock Community Development Corporation join me for a full hour. It will be several days before the show is available via pod cast. But if you Click here you can listen to past Retake Our Democracy radio programs.

And today’s post is so full of good news, how about sharing the joy by clicking here and tithing to one of Retake Our Democracy’s partners, each of whom work so hard to advance our values.

PNM Dropping All Coal by 2031. We’ve got a march to get to so today will be brief. As reported in today’s New Mexican, PNM has announced study that lays out its plans to eliminate all reliance on coal power by late 2031 and transition to renewables with nearly a third of its energy mix being wind and solar by 2025. Seth Feaster, a data analyst who authored the study, said these estimates are conservative.

“These kind of announcements [of coal retirements] have been coming at a rapid clip all across the country,” he said. “There is a lot of momentum toward closing coal plants because they are not economical.”

From the New Mexican, “Feaster said this swift transition of electricity generation for utilities has little to do with environmental regulations. It is more connected to the declining costs of producing energy from natural gas and wind power, he said, largely because of horizontal drilling, or fracking, and the rapid development of new, more affordable, renewable energy technology.”  Click here for the full article. Interestingly, in Retake’s Thursday’s post I wrote:  “We may not be able to convince deniers of the wisdom of investing in solar to protect the environment, but we may be able to do so to thicken their wallet. So if you despair about how powerless we now feel in the face of Trump and his manipulations and lies, take hope that the economics of energy are changing.”  If the economics of this continue to make it financially rewarding to do the right thing, even the staunchest denier will seek the improved economic environment found in renewables. There may be hope yet.

Do these look like sensible neighborhoods? Actual Congressional House districts.

Non-Partisan Forecast for 2018 Shows Major Democratic Gains.  Inside Elections, a non-partisan web site that conducts analysis and projections of future elections, has projected that the Democrats could make major gains in Governor races in 2018, with between six and ten Governorships possibly turning blue and no currently held Democratic Governorships at risk of flipping GOP. This has huge implications for the 2020 redistricting process as in 35 states Governors can veto a redistricting plan. Quoting from Inside Elections:  “Voters in 38 states (including nine of the 10 largest) will elect a governor over the next two years.  Governors in 35 states have veto power over congressional maps. And of those 35, 28 will be on the ballot this year or next. Democrats are particularly focused on electing governors in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin, where Republicans maximized their power to draw favorable maps prior to the 2012 elections. In some of these states, Republicans have wide majorities in the state Legislature, which means one gubernatorial victory can neutralize some of the GOP’s redistricting power.”  In short, this is a big deal. The maps of actual districts, above left, illustrate the kind of chicanery that is committed in the interest of manipulating election results. At the bottom of this post is a three-minute illustration of how gerrymandering works.

Click here for a Washington Post article with the clearest description I’ve seen of how redistricting becomes gerrymandering and how the result of gerrymandering in state and US legislatures is the creation of safe seats for the party in control of the redistricting process. For examScreen Shot 2015-02-28 at 11.36.16 PMple, quoting from the Post:  “Democrats won 51 percent of the popular House vote. But the only won 5 out of 18 House seats — fewer than one third. This was because when Pennsylvania Republicans redrew the state’s Congressional districts, they made highly irregular districts that look like the one at left, PA-7, one of the most geographically irregular districts in the nation.”

So, if the Democrats can flip 10 state Governorships, then there is hope that in those states a fair redistricting process can help Democrats take a fair number of seats in both State legislatures and the US Congress. More good news.  Click here to review projections from Inside Elections in relation to House, Senate and Governors races.

Financial Analysis Shows NM Will End 2016-17 Fiscal Year $71M in the Black Disproving Martinez’ Claims of a Need for Furloughs.  It is remarkable how our President and our Governor just thrive on their own alt-fact realities. Here, despite a non-partisan financial study, confirmed by a UNM economist, that there is no need for furloughs or hiring freezes, that the year end projections are even better than thought and that the state will end FY 2016-17 $71M in the black, we hear this from the Governor’s spokesman: “We need to address this [2016-17 non-existent deficit] as soon as possible or we’ll be forced into a government shutdown, reducing hours at or closing MVD offices, parks and museums,” said Michael Lonergan of the governor’s staff. Click here for the full report from the New Mexican.

We are not used to three largely positive news reports in one day and we’ve got a gorgeous sunny day. Perfect day for a march!  Hope to see you at the Science March.  10AM at the Downtown Library or 10:30 at the Bandstand.  See you there!  See the gerrymandering video below….very clear, very undemocratic.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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