We Are All Tired of Dueling Claims About SB 489: An Open Letter to the Governor

This will be short because lord knows there has been more than enough to read about SB 489. I am not taking sides; I am asking you to convene the parties and find a resolution.. 

Dear Governor Lujan Grisham,

Yesterday, I got an email from a Retake supporter: “I don’t want any more emails from groups I support and respect that are at odds with each other. Please meet in Santa Fe and work out the details. The Governor’s Office can provide a meeting room.” I couldn’t agree more. New Energy Economy says this, Sierra Club says that.  Only you, Governor, have the political authority to bring these valued advocates into one room and work this out.

This will be quite short. But I want to start with an apt story. Bear with me. I was once the lead Criminal Justice consultant to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (many stories there). He wanted a drug court and I was hired to facilitate the process. Months of meetings occurred. The DA, the Sheriff, the Public Defender, the police, public health, all agreed with the goal of having a drug court. But sides were entrenched and fought over language and details. Sounding familiar?

Finally, I called a meeting and asked that it be held at the jail. What meeting participants didn’t realize was I had asked Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who was quite liberal and had a great sense of humor, to book one of the holding cells for the meeting. When we arrived, folks thought it amusing. Then I asked the jailer to close the door and leave. It got real quiet. No windows and a locked cell. I told the group I’d call the jailer when we reached agreement. Of course, I couldn’t keep those folks at all, but the impact was profound. Here we were, feet from our impacted community, the people looking to us to solve a big problem. Three hours later we left with a deal.

Maybe we need the same approach with SB 489. But only you, Governor, have the stature to make it happen. We have two sides who agree on the goals but disagree about the language, and we have a great deal at stake. Instead of meeting behind closed doors and figuring it out, we cast stones at our friends and allies. That needs to stop. Now.

I am not smart enough to understand the 83 pages of legalese that is SB 489, but I do know that months of hard work went into developing the bill and a good two dozen groups were consulted. And I know that three groups were not consulted:

  • New Energy Economy
  • The Public Regulation Commission
  • Grassroots Indigenous groups from San Juan County

Guess who has concerns about the bill and who are seeking amendments?

  • New Energy Economy
  • The Public Regulation Commission
  • Grassroots Indigenous groups from San Juan County

Last Friday a meeting was held with representatives supporting the bill, including some who helped draft it and Rep. Nathan Small, one of the bill sponsors. Also participating were representatives from New Energy Economy, independent power producers, representatives from grassroots indigenous groups representing the impacted communities, Retake Our Democracy, and other energy advocates.

In the meeting, we established that all parties agree on the stated goals of the bill — the Renewable Portfolio Standard, a competitive renewable energy market, transition support for impacted workers and communities, and the tool of securitization. What we disagree about is whether the language of the bill currently supports all of those goals or not. Over the last week several parties have offered amendments that would resolve these language discrepancies and maintain the PRC’s authority to protect the public interest. Bill sponsors and Sierra Club and the Environmental Alliance haven’t had much time to review them, but we now have something concrete to discuss.

I’ve read all the claims and counter claims. They are getting us nowhere near the resolution we need. I am asking you, Governor, to use your political clout to bring these people together before Saturday at 10 a.m. when the bill goes to Senate Conservation. Failing such a meeting, I fear the House Chamber will not be large enough for competing advocates and we will have hours of inconclusive testimony leading nowhere.

Pick a time, pick a place, and invite a few regulatory attorneys who can interpret the bill and a couple of bill sponsors and advocates, and work this out. Your donors, supporters and constituents need your leadership. Help turn down the volume and negotiate.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

 

11 thoughts on “We Are All Tired of Dueling Claims About SB 489: An Open Letter to the Governor

  1. Thank you, Paul. This is spot on. I am so disappointed seeing the environmental groups and others using their platforms to call into question NEE’s motivation. NEE has been a hero to many of us for all of the battles fought on our behalf, with PNM. The environmental groups have always fought hard for clean water, clean air and saving our wildlife, lands and moving to renewable energy. There surely must be a way we can all come through this together. Fighting in the ranks is just what the opposition wants to see. The Governor must step in and lead and help us find alignment. Not doing that will likely lead to a fracture in the community which will only hurt us as we attempt to tackle the many issues facing New Mexico. By facing them together, we can accomplish so much more. Let’s all just work together to make sure that SB489 is the best bill it can be. We all want the same things!

  2. I agree. I’m a member and donor to almost all of these groups, I’ve worked my entire adult life for environmental and labor issues and have often seen these groups at odds over projects and jobs when there were to me obvious compromises. Personal attacks are counter productive. We do need to resolve this, because we all want the same things basically. They will mostly all be in Santa Fe today so could get together!! Stop wasting time and energy!!

  3. I personally think this Bill had no teeth to enforce the standards proposed, instead it gives free reign to Energy Corps.

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