Indigenous Peoples of the Southwest Offers Their Powerful Opposition to SB 489

In our recent posts, we have featured the views of those left out of the crafting of SB 489, PRC Commissioners, New Energy Economy, and now an alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Southwest.  Their statement is more powerful than anything I’ve seen. Hearing is tomorrow at 9 a.m. We need you and we need you there early.  Read on.

Roundhouse Alert SB 489 Energy Transition Act Hearing is now at 9 a.m in Room 322.:  We can’t repeat all the action this weekend as recreational marijuana and minimum wage bills are being heard Saturday afternoon. We are told that PNM has hired buses who will be filled by employees with the goal being to fill the room leaving no room for constituents. We are recommending that people arrive at Room 322 no later than 8 a.m. Let’s fill the place and force them to just sit on their bus.  We will try to arrive even earlier.They also are allowing only 20 speakers for those opposing and 20 speaking in support of the bill. And this afternoon, they set up a sign up sheet in Room 328 for people who want to speak. I signed up this afternoon as I just happened to be there to drop off flyers for committee members. So, if you would like to speak please come even earlier and come with a good 2-minute statement. If you don’t want to speak, please still plan to attend and where a button so the Senators know where you stand. Click here to get to our 2-pager on SB 489. It explains why we are asking the Senators to table the bill. Join us at 8 a.m. and where your Retake button.

  • Saturday, 8:30 a.m. KSFR 101.1 FM, Retake Our Democracy with Senator William Soules and New Energy Economy Executive Director, Mariel Nanasi who speak about SB 489, SB 492, (the “clean” securitization bill that serves as an alternative to SB 489) and HB 210 Community Solar Act .
  • Sunday, 11 a.m. Journey Santa Fe, Collected Works, 202 Galisteo. Public Banking in NM, with Elaine Sullivan and Robert Mang, updating us on the status of the Public Bank in the Roundhouse and in NM’s future. Make a Sunday of it and check out
  • Sunday, 12:15 a.m. Roundhouse Room Sunday (yes, Sunday), Feb. 24, 12:15 p.m., Room 305, the House State Govt., & Indian Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear HB 295 Health Security ActThis is another big one — visionary legislation that could change thousands of lives in our state. We need this!

After the headline below, 100% of the narrative that follows was developed by the Indigenous Peoples of the Southwest and is signed by 40 grassroots indigenous groups and their allies.  I highly recommend reading the Fact Sheet as well (link below) as it is brief and compelling, highlighting some issues with SB 489 that I had not seen before.  The pdf to the letter to Governor Lujan Grisham is essentially the same document as what is presented here.

No Just Transition without Indigenous Consultation

PNM will close the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in 2022.   SB489 is a bill currently being debated and considered in the NM legislature to address closure issues and renewable energy targets.

We ask allies to stand with Indigenous Peoples and not the Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM). Energy policy decisions directly and disproportionately impact our communities. Our ancestral lands in the Four Corners region was officially designated a national sacrifice zone by the Department of Energy under the Nixon administration in 1973. Since then we have experienced high levels of extraction activities including the siting of five coal plants, four coal mines, and thousands of oil and gas drill pads. Being from frontline communities, we bear the biggest impacts to our health and the devastation of our land, water, air, plants and animals. In an era of climate change we must stand united for a Just Transition that is inclusive of all Indigenous communities.  Without amendments, we do not support The Energy Transition Act (SB 489).

Supported by big Environmental Groups and PNM, SB 489 does not address the biggest concerns of impacted Indigenous communities such as:  

  • The full remediation and restoration of the impacted areas, including vital water sources that have become contaminated through these operations.
  • Support for addressing long-term health impacts from being surrounded by these power plants. Our health has suffered as a result of air, water, and land contamination with members of our communities losing years of their lives and loved ones to asthma, lung disease, heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders. The American Lung Association estimates that 16,000 people in the region (15% of the population) suffers from lung disease probably caused by plant emissions.
  • Support for infrastructure needed to support a Just Transition: Despite providing electricity to the rest of the state for over 56 years, our people continue to go without adequate access to water, electricity and roads. A Just Energy Transition bill would address these structural inequalities to invest in the infrastructure we need to build a just economy.
  • Support for traditional economic lifeways, including farming and agriculture, that have been compromised because of contamination and investments in extractive economies that undermined these practices.
  • Consultation with Indigenous communities in all stages of decision-making.

Entities that have benefited from the extraction of natural resources and exploitation of Indigenous lands and peoples must be held accountable and contribute to the cleanup and just transition of impacted communities and economies. Based on our analysis of the bill, we have asked the large environmental groups that support this bill to address the lack of inclusion of Indigenous people by including our amendments that address our biggest concerns. Those who should be our strongest allies have dismissed our voices.

It has always been up to us to stand up for our rights
and protect our lands, waters and ecosystems!

Respect our Right to Consultation: Indigenous community members and leaders in the impacted area should be consulted in setting the energy transition policy. The United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) sets the minimum standard that must be respected, especially article 32, the right to “Free, Prior, and Informed Consent” (FPIC).

Respect our Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent: US government agencies at all levels must provide Indigenous Peoples with adequate and accessible information and allow consensus and consent to be determined in accordance with Indigenous Peoples’ customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation or coercion. We hold our allies to this same standard as this applies to our right to full participation in setting the terms and defining the economic, societal, cultural, spiritual and environmental needs resulting from bearing the impacts of the extractive industry. Indigenous communities should have the right to explore all of the issues associated with the abandonment of the San Juan Coal Plant through an evidentiary hearing at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission before issues are legislated.

Right to Self-Determination: Any proposals for economic transition and environmental cleanup must be led by impacted communities most affected by pollution, ecological damage, and economic restructuring.  Investments made for economic transition and recovery as well as renewable energy development should be designed to benefit communities that have historically borne the brunt of energy extraction in addition to the frontline workers impacted by the closure.  Any proposals for “green” or renewable and net-zero or carbon-free energy supplies must not include nuclear energy, carbon-marketing, or other false market solutions which have destroyed Indigenous lands and negatively impacted Indigenous communities.

We can and must do better! In the past decade, Indigenous activism has led to great victories in challenging the unjust practices of fossil fuel industries. Without Indigenous activism, the climate movement in this country would not have the strength that it has today. We found alliance in our shared concern for the earth, and future generations. But Indigenous peoples have been at this much longer and have much more at stake. We do the work because it is necessary for the survival of our lifeways and for future generations and we don’t have the luxury of compromising our concerns and priorities. Supporting this bill without our amendments is a violation of our Indigenous rights and a violation of our collective vision for a just, equitable, and sustainable future.

Our proposed amendments:

  • PNM should share in the costs associated with shutdown, as a responsible party.
  • A timeline of reclamation and decommissioning should be included in the bill to hold PNM accountable.
  • “No nuclear” should explicitly be stated in the bill.
  • Electricity and roads should be provided to communities living in close proximity to SJGS.
  • Consultation with Tribes needs to be included in the bill.
  • There should be more hearings in impacted tribal communities regarding the economic development plan.
  • Money should be allocated to solarize schools and chapter houses in the impacted area.
  • PNM should help fund renewable energy programs at tribal colleges.
  • Funds are needed to study contamination and actual decommissioning and reclamation costs.
  • Funds are needed for a comprehensive health study and a needs assessment.
  • Funds are needed for transmission studies to examine if the facility can be transitioned to other power sources.
  • Break up the Monopoly- Pueblos and sovereign Native Nations should be allowed to produce and sell clean energy, PNM should NOT be allowed to own all replacement power.

Join us in our struggle to be heard against SB 489!

Indigenous Peoples of the Southwest & Allies

  1. 3 Sisters Collective
  2. 4-Corners Collaborative
  3. Anhara and Andrew Lovato
  4. Anna M. Rondon, Kinya aa anii, Dine’
  5. Argumedo, Rarámuri/Chichimeca
  6. Black Mesa Water Coalition
  7. Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound & Mora County
  8. Duane “Chili” Yazzie, President of Shiprock Chapter, Navajo Nation
  9. Diné Introspective Inc.
  10. Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy
  11. Climate Justice Alliance
  12. Council Delegate Daniel Tso (Eastern Agency-Littlewater, Pueblo Pintado, Torreon, Whitehorse Lake, Baca/Brewitt, Casamero Lake, Ojo Encino, Counselor)
  13. Dooda Fracking
  14. Earth Care
  15. Frontera Water Protector Alliance
  16. Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute
  17. Honor The Earth
  18. Honor Our Pueblo Existence 
  19. I-Collective
  20. Indigenous Environmental Network
  21. Indigenous Goddess Gang
  22. Janene Yazzie
  23. Kim Smith
  24. Las Vegas (NM) Peace and Justice Center
  25. Los Jardines Institute
  26. Native Youth Leadership Alliance
  27. MAIDA
  28. Makai Lewis, Dine’
  29. Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment
  30. Ordained Buddhist in the Order of Interbeing
  31. Preston Johnson, Dine’ tribal member, NTU Student
  32. Retake Our Democracy
  33. Reyes Devore-Jemez Pueblo
  34. Sixth World Solutions
  35. SouthWest Organizing Project
  36. Taos Progressive
  37. The Seed Keepers & Food Stewards of Taste of Native Cuisines
  38. Tewa Women United
  39. To Bei Nihi Dzil
  40. UNM Chicanx Studies Student Collective



Categories: Climate Change, Agriculture, Land Use & Wildlife, Local-State Government & Legislation

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7 replies

  1. I wasn’t able to be at the RH today, am super curious what happened regarding SB 489. I’d love a brief update if that’s possible.

    • An alert going out in a minute, but it passed 5-3 after 5 hours of hearing. It was hard to fathom both of poor the Senator questioning was, except for Cervantes. We had more in the 220 seat room opposing than supporting by a long ways. I hope we are wrong, but I smell gas in Farmington’s future.

  2. It’s hard to fathom that so many environmental groups support this bill no matter what. Painful.

  3. Paul, thank you for publishing this important statement, including all of the names of organizations and individuals who wrote it.

  4. The easy way out for PNM is to substitute natural gas and nuclear for coal. Wind and solar trail far behind in its plans. This is likely to slow the state’s development of these energy sources. New Mexico will continue to trail other states with less wind and solar resources.
    How shameful is that?

  5. The biggest problem with Solar and wind is the visual pollution, of these giant behemoths scarring the landscape. The dream of 100% renewables are just, that a dream, with out space based Solar Satellites. There’s no way to store sufficient Energy for days, that lack sun or wind, much less overnight. Our Electricity would have to come from out of state, during theses times, driving costs up.
    What’s next forcing everyone to drive an Electric Cars? This legislation is great for ABQ and Santa Fe, as always, it screws over the next of the state.


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