A Look Back at a Roundhouse-Dominated Week With the Focus on Gas & Oil

A Roundhouse update with SB 489 (being heard today), and a reprise of last week’s blogs, including an extraordinary blog on the power of gas and oil lobbyists, another on the myth that our plastic is being recycled, and another on alternatives to privately owned utilities and the benefits of publicly owned health, education, transportation, banking and other systems upon which we rely.

Roundhouse Roundup. While none of our MUST PASS bills have been derailed at this point, we are becoming increasingly alarmed at the number of our bills and other good bills that are not moving. Recently, Steve Terrell wrote a humorous piece about how much time is wasted on memorials at the precise moment when time is precious and so many bills await hearings and votes.  I agree that both chambers spend too much time on memorials, many of which are pretty silly, some of which can be deeply moving, but while consuming time, the legislators are also working like maniacs with committee and floor hearings on Saturdays and Sundays sometimes extending to nearly midnight. So some time spent on levity is not unreasonable.

Still, with less than two weeks remaining, Retake sees almost all of our bills’ progress slowed considerably. It is even possible that none of our bills will ever be voted down and still none become law. In other words, good bills, voted forward in committee after committee, passed on the floor of one or the other chambers, could still not get to the governor’s desk by the time the final gavel closes the session on March 16 at noon. Our Retake Response Network will begin including bills that we are particularly worried about with contact information for the Governor, leadership for the House and Senate and Committee Chairs where bills are assigned but not scheduled.

Longer term, this is simply no way to get thoughtful legislation done. We need full time legislators who are paid a salary and provided a staff. The issues these legislators must vote on are of huge consequence. I’ve been struck by comments from Rep. McQueen speaking about the Health Security Act and acknowledging, “I haven’t read it yet.” In the same vein, Sen. Cervantes acknowledged not having looked at SB 489 the PNM securitization bill until the night before the hearing on the bill, a hearing he would chair.These are two of the most important bills being considered in the RH and they are being reviewed for the first time, hours before they cast their votes. As we move forward, NM and the nation will face momentous challenges related to economic and climate justice, challenges that simply can’t wait for 3-4 sessions to advance bold solutions. We need legislators with time and resources to consider those solutions more thoughtfully.

SB 489 will entertain amendments in a crucial Senate Corporations Committee hearing tomorrow at 1pm or after the morning floor session in Room 311. I am told that at least some of these amendments will be substantive and will address serious problems with what could be a very good bill. It would be very good to have many of you at that hearing. We will have flyers with speaking points, buttons and a real bonus. new Retake Our Democracy bumper stickers that are small and so won’t crowd out your old Obama, KSFR, Bernie and/or Hillary bumper stickers.

And from one of our readers, Gabe Hanson on SB 489 and PNM....

I’m an economist who has done well by analyzing second, third and fourth order consequences of public policy and public projects. I’ve dug and analyzed the activity SB489 will induce. I can only conclude that, while the time is now to reorient our policies and thinking so as to propel wind and solar development forward with all possible speed. But SB489 is designed to let PNM, from a dominant position, direct energy development and usage. The likely effects of this are; high-priced wind and solar; more imported nuke power; and more natural gas fracking and usage — which scientists view as no long term fix to global warming at all.

Pen raised or so-called factory porkers can’t root and forage for their living, so they eat whatever the hog magnate’s hired hands feed them. I smell an analogy here with you and me.

‘We will have to think outside of the box (or pen) we are in. But don’t quit now: the state government and our “representatives” are teaching us a powerful lesson, that is, public interest lobbying can win small victories. but at the same time it is reinforcing the system that pens us in.”

I am struck by the pen-raised pork analogy and our need to think outside the pen. Stay tuned readers, post session that is precisely where Retake is headed, outside the pen, to examine not policies that “might be able to get through” the Roundhouse, but policies that actually address the urgency of the economic and climate justice crisis. Then we’ll work with our allies and create a Roundhouse that will support what is needed, not what our pen-keepers will feed us.

Retake Our Democracy on KSFR with Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club; Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council; Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy; and Bruce Throne, independent regulatory attorney joined me in a special one-hour conversation about SB 489, the controversial securitization bill being debated in the Roundhouse. This is a hugely important bill that enjoys very strong support from the Governor and from a wide array of environmental groups. But the PRC, New Energy Economy, grassroots indigenous groups and Retake Our Democracy are looking for amendments to fix critical language problems in the bill.  On the show, Feibelman and Jones describe their view as to why the bill is just fine the way it is, while Nanasi and Throne point out where improvements are needed. The interview is very structured with each side getting 4 minutes to discuss each of the degree to which the bill is good for ratepayers, protects the PRC authority to oversee the closure of San Juan Generating Station; ensures a competitive bidding process; ensures that the plant will, in fact, close in 2022; provides PRC oversight of replacement power; and will prevent natural gas as a power source replacing coal. I am told that amendments are to be introduced at Tuesday afternoon’s Senate Corporations Committee hearing. I am told that these amendments will go beyond some of the minor tweaks that have been introduced thus far.  Stay tuned. To listen to the podcast of the show that aired on Saturday, click here. 

As China Refuses Our Recycling, Plastic is Now Being Incinerated and Guess Who Is Downwind from the Toxic Fumes?

Tuesday, February 26. Recycling will never solve the consequences of over-consumption. We are now poisoning the air by incinerating plastic and dumping trash at horrifying levels directly into the ocean. With China no longer accepting our recycling, we need to examine closely our single use of plastic and paper. Remember, when we throw things away, there is no “away.” I’ve spent lots of time at the Roundhouse and at every hearing a plastic one-use water bottle is placed by each legislator while a large water dispenser sits behind them. How about the legislature allocate $15 per legislator to get them each a reusable metal water bottle and they ban plastic bottles from the Roundhouse?  Click here to read the full post.

Shameless Gas & Oil Lobbyists Trade Short-term Profits for Their Grandchildren’s Future

Thursday, February 28.  “The sky is falling,” is NM Oil & Gas Association’s persistent claim any time the legislature tries to address climate change. This post exposes the moral bankruptcy of an industry that is fine with trading 2019 profits for the future of children born in 2019. It also calls upon Democratic leadership to fund a study for making a swift, just transition to a sustainable future. But that isn’t going to happen during this session and so we need to work with our allies to develop the bones of a transition plan in NM and be ready with a bill for the 2020 session and lobby our governor to put it on the call in 2020. We can’t wait for 2021.  Click here to read the full blog.

Privately Owned Utilities (like PNM) Throttle Climate Justice and Neoliberal Policy and Capitalist Structures Thwart Economic, Social and Racial Justice 

Saturday, March 2.  This piece was sent out midday on Saturday and as a result did not enjoy our usually high readership.  That is too bad, as this is one of the better posts we’ve published of late. Well worth a read. We examine how we are not only facing an environmental crisis, but an economic one as well, both stemming from the same neoliberal assumptions and the same privatized world that removes most of us from any influence on how things are done. While the focus is upon how utility monopolies thwart climate justice efforts, connections are made between the monopolies in the media, healthcare, pharma, banking and other industries. This post also proposes a solution: democratizing business and commerce and suggests an excellent resource for further reading on the need to create new systems to guide us in the future. Click here to read the full post.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

One thought on “A Look Back at a Roundhouse-Dominated Week With the Focus on Gas & Oil

  1. Gabe Hanson is right, we do have to think outside the “hogpen.” Legislators who did not bother to read important bills are a red flag. This is how casually they take their jobs, they only care about specific things that benefit them or their corporate funders. There is also a really big problem with the corporate funding of academia. Our policticians justify their positions with industry funded academic science distortion. Our insitutions rely on corporate funding, Oil and Gas is particularly intrusive, students need to declare their corporate allegiances early in order to get scholarships grants and internships.

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