Full Report on SB 489 Sen. Hearing and Breaking Plans to Continue to Operate the San Juan Coal Plant

In addition, we provide an action alert about visiting Rep. Ben Ray Lujan’s Santa Fe office to advocate for his sponsoring the Green New Deal. But the big news is not just that SB 489 passed a committee, but that Senator Cervantes clearly exposed all its confusing and contradictory language. The goals of the bill are stellar. If only its language were.

SB 489 Passes at Same Time Plans Announced to Keep San Juan Open Beyond 2022

By a vote of 5-3, Senate Conservation Committee passed SB 489.  The only meaningful amendment incorporated was one that called for a committee comprised of unions and indigenous groups to serve in an advisory role in relation to the use of $20M for workforce retraining and economic development. None of the language New Energy Economy or allies proposed to improve Senate Bill 489 was adopted or even considered. What’s more, despite days of work on these amendments no bill sponsor or supporting organization ever responded in any way to acknowledge that the amendments were even reviewed.

Despite a significant snow storm and treacherous roads, the hearing room was overfilled with people standing in the back of the room. Each side was given forty minutes to make public comment. The proponents organized an impressive show of support for the bill, with virtually every cabinet secretary making strong statements endorsing the bill and with Senators Candelaria, Ortiz y Pino, and Stewart, plus Rep. Nathan Small at the table as bill sponsors there was ample evidence of strong political support. Then an all star list of environmental organizations, unions and other stakeholders each offered support.

But when bill opponents were offered their turn, forty minutes of sound reasoning was offered from regulatory lawyers, New Energy Economy, indigenous organizations, independent power producers, the PRC, Retake Our Democracy and community members.  The gist of bill opponents message was that while we all supported the goals of the bill, we also feared that the bill, as written, would need amendments or those goals would never be achieved. To me, it seemed that there was ample evidence of confusion about bill language to put a pause on the process and allow sponsors to consider amendments that until now have not even been considered. When New Energy Economy offered comment, it asked for those present who were with NEE to stand and well over half the room did so.

After public comment from the audience, the Senators had their turn to ask questions. Frankly, until Senator Cervantes spoke, I felt that most of the comments and questions were not sharply focused and the bill sponsors were able to deflect concerns pretty easily. But then Senator Cervantes took the mic.  Capturing the concerns of bill opponents, Senator Cervantes said “I wish the bill said what you want it to say but….” He then proceeded to chronicle a dozen instances where the current language of the bill undercut due process, tied PRC hands, and did not meet stated public interest protections.  Frankly, after the litany of concerns raised by Cervantes, I was absolutely stunned at how quickly a motion was made by Sen. Wirth for a Do Pass and how quickly the motion passed. I was certain that a motion to table would be introduced so that there was time to consider the myriad of inconsistencies and confusion in page after page of the bill. But as noted above, there is a tremendous amount of political clout behind SB 489 and achieving meaningful improvements will not be easy.

Senator Candelaria did vow to continue to work with Cervantes to address his concerns, and while this gives us hope that critical amendments may still be adopted—maintaining PRC authority over cost and replacement power, clean up, the demands of impacted indigenous communities, and excluding Four Corners Power Plant from SB 489.

To send an email to the Governor to ask her to direct SB 489 sponsors to meet to discuss Senator Cervantes’ concerns and amendments that could address those concerns, click here.

San Juan Generating Station In All Its Belching Glory

Meanwhile…four hours north and downwind from the San Juan Generating Station, the City of Farmington and Acme Equities LLC, a New York City based private holding company that focuses on North American energy assets, signed an agreement to continue operating the San Juan Generating Station. The parties are finalizing the details of their agreement and will begin negotiations with other owners to transfer their interests in the station.

From the day SB 489 was introduced New Energy Economy claimed that SB 489 would not guarantee the closing of the plant and now virtually at the same time that SB 489 passed its first hurdle, word that plans to sustain operations were announced. In reaching out to 350.org to find out how the bill would stop San Juan operations after 2022, I was told that for SB 489 to prevent the plant from continuing a rule would have to be passed by the Environmental Improvement Board to raise the emissions standards to a level that the plant could not achieve without prohibitively costly emission controls being installed.

I checked this with New Energy Economy and they indicated that the average length of time it takes for the EIB to make a rule and then enforce it is seven years. I have no way of verifying either 350.org’s assertion or NEE’s claims of it taking seven years to enforce an EIB rule, but the article below clearly indicates that there is a move afoot to try to maintain the coal plant in operation. CLICK HERE to read the Farmington Daily Times Article.  This is a story that gets more and more interesting with each passing day. Retake will keep you posted.

Green New Deal Action at Rep. Ben Ray Lujan’s Santa Fe Office

February 26, 2019 1:30 PM.1611 Calle Lorca Suite A,, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  I am told by GND organizers that this will not be an act of civil disobedience, but merely an effort to underscore how much Santa Feans want our US Rep to sponsor this critical resolution. I have my fingers crossed there is no ultra urgent bill being heard at the same time, as otherwise I plan to be there and hope you will too.  Click here to RSVP and invite your friends to join us using the RSVP link.

A Look Back On a Week Consumed by One Bill: SB 489 the Energy Transition Act

The headlines below tell last week’s story well as SB 489 dominated reporting. As one of the very most important and certainly the most controversial bill in the session, we will continue to keep a close eye on it but we will also begin to provide more balanced coverage as other important bills are not receiving the attention deserved. If you were to only read one of the articles below, I’d recommend the morning report on Friday as it provides a good two page summary of the bills purpose and our concerns.

Deadline for BLM Comments on Chaco Canyon Fracking Plus a Note From PRC Commissioner Steve Fischmann On What is Wrong with SB 489

Tuesday, Feb 20. Chaco Cyn Commentary to BLM is due today, amendments to SB 489 have been submitted to bill sponsors, and a curious twist in the hearing on SB 196, No Resources for Federal Immigration. That and NM joins 15 states in lawsuit to halt Trumps bogus national emergency. Call to action on SB 489. We are asking to pause the rush to pass 489 and examine amendments and concerns. Click here to read the full post.

Tired of Dueling Attack Emails on SB 489?  An Open Letter to Governor Lujan Grisham

Wednesday, Feb 20. 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..  Click here for the full post.

No Response from Sponsors on Proposed SB 489 Amendments

Thursday, Feb. 21. Senate Conservation hearing on SB 489 is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. Despite receiving recommendations on Tuesday that they sought last Friday, bill sponsors and bill supporters who were at the Friday meeting have been silent. Despite an Open Letter to the Governor calling for such a meeting, no meeting has been called. Instead, the war of claims and counterclaims continues. Click here to read the full post.

Speaking Points, Summary and Concerns About SB 489

Friday, Feb 22 Morning.  Saturday at 10 a.m.. Senate Conservation Committee will be hearing and voting on SB 489. We feel this is a bill that could be one of our MUST PASS bills if it is amended and that it is deeply flawed without amendment. Today’s blog is devoted entirely to understanding this critical bill, what options we have to make it better and how you should act. Please call and email TODAY!!!!  Click here to read the full post.

Indigenous Peoples of the Southwest Voice Opposition to SB 489 Energy Transition Act

Friday, Feb. 22 Afternoon.  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 on this bill. Hearing is tomorrow at 9 a.m. We need you and we need you there early.  Read on Click here to read the full post.


Categories: Climate Change, Agriculture, Land Use and Wildlife

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2 replies

  1. Paul, from the back of the room Saturday, we counted 8 people who braved the blizzard and iced packed roads from Taos to attend SB 489 hearing. All of us stood with NEE and silently cheered the words you and Roxanne spoke for us. Thank You.
    Cristy Holden & Dan Pritchard

  2. It looks like they pulled a fast one, and I have no doubt that a few of our legislators were involved. This was all a Bait And Switch. The inconsistancies are all by design.

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