Thoughts on Conversation with Egolf and Wirth and Update on LANL and Roundhouse Planning

Chromium plume, fracking and contaminated water, doubling of the number of fracking operations in San Juan and Rio Arriba and opportunities to voice opposition to all of these actions from home and on Friday in Santa Fe. Plus a preview of the Retake interview with Senator Wirth and Speaker Egolf on what is possible in the Roundhouse. Details within.

It seems clear that for the foreseeable future, we will be going back and forth from playing offense to playing defense. Today’s post illustrates this reality quite clearly. While we have opportunities in the Roundhouse to play offense, there are so many assaults on our planet, our air and our water where our efforts are defensive. Today we focus on the Roundhouse and LANL’s chromium plume, but if you click on our This Weeks Actions & Events, you will find other actions, some of which can be managed in minutes and from your couch. But with so much at stake, the one thing that is certain is that those of you who read this blog with some regularity are a minority of the larger community, you are people who really care and are concerned. As such, it is really incumbent upon you to move beyond being concerned and take the next step. Activism. We Can Do This! But it will take all of us. Read on.

 

Retake Our Democracy, Saturday, Nov. 17, 8:30am-9:00am on KSFR 101.1 FM: Conversation with Speaker Brian Egolf and Senator Peter Wirth. On Tuesday, I recorded the show to air on Saturday morning with Speaker Brian Egolf and Senate Floor Leader Peter Wirth. It was an interesting interview buoyed by optimism that a good many bills that have never gotten through, would do so this session. That optimism was tempered by a recognition that there would be 4000 bills being introduced, an incredible number to sort through. It was heartening to hear both leaders feel that the Health Security Act ought to be signed into law, that a very significant increase in funding for K-12 and early childhood would also be achieved, and that other bills on our tentative top 10 priorities all would likely do well.

But they also cautioned me that Democratic leadership was going to reach across the aisle and try to find bipartisan solutions to vexing state challenges so that we avoid having bills passed over vigorous GOP objections, only to have those bills undone (as is happening with ACA) if the pendulum swings back to the GOP. Here I differ with Senator Wirth and Speaker Egolf. And when I challenged them that Retake and other advocacy groups would not be amused with $10 minimum wage bills becoming $9 and 36% small loan caps becoming 75%, Speaker Egofl assured me that there would be times for GOP input and then times when there would be irreconcilable disagreement and so then time to just vote. When talking about PNM’s failed effort to obtain over $300M in what amounted to an unwarranted gift and that they would, no doubt, be back. Sen. Wirth’s comment was also reassuring: “They know what happened last year and they can count.”  Taken together, it was a heartening conversation, so I’d recommend listening in. If you miss it though you can always get the podcast after Monday morning at KSFR.org, under the Programs Menu and then clicking on Podcasts.

Despite the tone being flush with optimism, it is clear that Retake Our Democracy and its allies will need to be vigilant. We all recall what happened when Obama took office and spent two years trying to reach across the aisle. It was a missed opportunity to utterly transform the auto industry with a bailout tied to significant commitments to research and produce electric vehicles and with the banks, to tie their bailout  to compliance with regulations that required 100% transparency,  reigned in risky investments and insisted on increased investment in infrastructure and affordable housing, for example. Many felt the 2008 was an opportunity to nationalize the banks and essentially create a national Public Bank that was designed not to create obscene profit, but rather to invest in our communities. We have waited years to have this opportunity here in NM. Speaker Egolf noted that there are only 11 legislators in either chamber who have served under a Democratic Governor. I am guessing Democratic leadership is so accustomed to having to get a few GOP votes to get anything done and hence having to relent to concessions’; We don’t need to do that anymore. This is our opportunity and that opportunity should result in uncompromising legislation that restores voters faith in government and cements their commitment to the Democratic Party.

It will be critical that Retake and our allies prioritize and focus upon and advocate with persistence for those priorities. And it will be important to have many volunteers scanning amended bills to identify when bills are being watered down in a committee and our position will have to shift.  A day later, those changes may be removed and language inserted that significantly strengthens the bill.  And Retake and its Rapid Response Network will have to inform members that our position has changed again that they should re-contact their legislator.

Essentially, Retake’s Legislative Strategy and our Rapid Response Network are being designed to make it very easy for you to be very effectively involved in relation to issues that deeply matter to you. Learn more about Retake’s still evolving strategy by clicking here.

Roundhouse Advocacy Team Mtg. TODAY.  4:30pm-6:30pm at 1420 Cerrillos Rd, the Center for Progress and Justice.  if you want to learn more about our plans for pushing to make good bills good laws and you want to be part of it, join us today at 4:30.  We will spend a good deal of time explaining how our Roundhouse Advocacy Team (or RAT Pack) functions, what tasks we need to accomplish to be ready for the Roundhouse Session that begins January 15 and what roles we need to fill throughout the Roundhouse session. Lastly, we will examine our current iteration of a list of what we are calling our MUST PASS Bills or the Non-Negotiables.  Just reading over that list and considering that with real effort, we could get all of them….that should inspire all of us.  We will offer you an opportunity to sign up for specific roles and we will try to set a standing meeting schedule to make it easier for you to be involved.

If you haven’t written to let me know you will be there, please do so now and if you can’t make it today, but you want to be involved going forward, also email me and provide days and times you can generally make meetings. Keep in mind, there are things you can do to support this effort without attending meetings on an ongoing basis. People just need to be oriented to their task and get ‘er done. email me at paul@RetakeOurDemocracy.org.

FYI:  The Democratic Party of Santa Fe sent out an email devoted to this meeting and as a result, we have added at least 15 or 20 folks who plan to attend. This is absolutely tremendous. We are off and running. Let’s Do This!

LANL Toxic Plume Hearing Update

I call on the New Mexico Environment Department to require the Department of Energy, LANL, Triad, and N3B (contractor for the waste remediation) to fully demonstrate that their proposed action is safe and that it does not contribute to harmful, cumulative impacts on any form of life.”
– Jessica Luján, TWU Indigenous Women’s Health program manager
The public hearing on the groundwater discharge permit was held in Los Alamos last Wednesday and Thursday, Nov 7 and 8, with more than 100 people in attendance representing our coalition partners: Amigos Bravos, Communities for Clean Water, Nuclear Watch, Tewa Women United, Retake Our Democracy, New Energy Economy, Earth Care and more. Below you can find some of the media coverage on the hearing:

What Happens Now?

Attorneys for both sides will now file rebuttal testimony to counter the witness testimony. The hearing officer has 30 days to write a recommendation report to the environmental secretary on whether to grant stricter standards to the permit, uphold the permit as it is, or reject it altogether.
TAKE ACTION:
The period for public comments has been extended to December 7, 2018.
Please send your comments
–> via email to:
–> via US mail to:
Pam Castaneda, Administrator to Boards and Commissions
P.O. Box 5469
Santa Fe, NM 87502
(If you send your comments via US mail, please make sure you send in advance so that they are received no later than December 7.)
TEWA has developed an excellent Action Toolkit with more background information and speaking/writing points. Click Action Toolkit to download templates of public comment letters and read the fact sheet and talking points that they’ve compiled.  Visit this page to read more background information on the chromium plume.
 
We have an opportunity to make a real difference on this issue – thank you for making your voice heard!

 

 

One thought on “Thoughts on Conversation with Egolf and Wirth and Update on LANL and Roundhouse Planning

  1. Pingback: A Week In Review, An Urgent Action Call on the State of Fracking in NM and Thoughts on Bipartisanship from a Reader & My Response | Retake Our Democracy

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