Recently a Retake supporter questioned whether youth should make demands of “a governor who has been unbelievably progressive on energy matters.” Today, I respond and remind you of this morning’s protest.
In brief, two actions for today, plus a video on seed sovereignty, then we respond to the question: Should youth climate activists be making demands on our Governor?
TODAY. New Mexico Oil & Gas Association (NMOGA) Annual Meeting. Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8:30am. Eldorado Hotel, 309 W. San Francisco, Santa Fe. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is the keynote speaker at the NMOGA breakfast meeting. YUCCA (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action) promised ongoing actions and they are keeping their word. Please arrive early and if you have a sign bring it. Click here to RSVP and for more info. Let the Governor know that we want her to work toward a just transition, not continue to curry favor with Gas & Oil.
Support Seed Sovereignty in Española: Tuesday, Oct. 8, 6 pm. Española City Council, 405 N. Paseo de Oñate. Please come to this week’s Española City Council meeting, to support the passage of a Resolution in Support of a Declaration of Seed Sovereignty. This is in continuation of work from the New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance, who collaborated on drafting the original declaration, a document that is crucial in establishing a foundation for New Mexico’s agricultural future. See video on seed sovereignty and its importance to NM agriculture and indigenous culture.
Should Youth Climate Activists Make Demands on Our Governor?
One of our readers and volunteers wrote to us complaining about our supporting students who were making “demands” of our Governor, noting that Lujan Grisham was “unbelievably progressive on the environment.” I guess describing the Governor as being “unbelievably progressive on the environment” depends upon your perspective.
Is the Governor “Unbelievably Progressive” on the Environment?
She is certainly a breath of fresh air after 8 years of Susana Martinez, but I think–given the scope and scale of the climate crisis and NM’s contribution to it– there is reason to expect more, much more. Certainly elements of the ETA are worthwhile, but that only covers NM’s use of electricity and as the chart below makes clear, what we export is far more important than what we use. And MLG has shown absolutely no indication of willingness to even consider slowing the Permian flow.
What’s more, she has been offered plenty of time to do what Mayor Keller did in declaring a climate emergency. According to Climate Mobilization, as of October 1, 2019, more than 1,080 governments, representing 265 million people, have declared Climate Emergency. The Governor could declare a climate emergency with one swipe of the pen.
The Governor has not offered to meet with the youth activists, nor even responded to that request with an indication that a meeting time is coming.
She has not signaled a willingness to put Community Solar on the call and she has not signaled any indication of wanting to fund a study for a just transition off of gas and coal.
Any of these signals would have shown some sign of her putting specific commitments behind her January proclamation that under her administration, she would be honoring the Paris Accord and joining the US Climate Coalition. It would also signal a willingness to work with the youth.
Instead, she has spoken extensively about her/our partnership with gas and oil and aside from promoting methane capture (which offers more financial gains for G&O), she has given no indication she will challenge the Permian flow.
What’s more, in the last session, every bill seeking to regulate, tax, or penalize the gas and oil industry was killed in Democrat controlled committees. She has not signaled to the legislature that she wants those bills passed in 2020 or made a public statement that she was disappointed that these bills died. I doubt they will be on the call in 2020, her call. Lastly, the Governor was a strong supporter of the produced water bill, a very questionable bill environmentally.
Should Youth Climate Activists Make Demands on Our Governor?
If you read the youth letter to the Governor, you will not be able to miss the respectful tone. Yes, they have demands, but they are also the ones who will have to live with and try to survive the impact of our decisions.
To underscore how dire the situation is and how much of a role the state of New Mexico plays at an international scale, consider a report published by Oil Change, a coalition of environmental and political organizations that includes Greenpeace, 350.org, Working Families Party, Rainforest Action Network Our Revolution, and a half dozen other national organizations. Drilling Towards Disaster is an extraordinary report that on pages 24-27 focuses on the Permian Basin. I have not seen such a powerful report that focuses on the impact from drilling the Permian Basin. To review this very important report, click here.
In its preface it underscores the critical need to focus more on what New Mexico drills than what we use. The first seven page executive summary is a must read, as it articulates quite clearly how if the US, with a major boost from NM, continues its gas and oil policies and production the US will be far and away the most egregious contributor to the climate catastrophe ahead. And of course what that means, is that we could be the most important and impactful champion for the change that is needed. From Drilling Towards Disaster:
Existing climate measures aren’t cutting it – literally. Current national policy pledges under the Paris Agreement would put the world on course for 2.4 to 3.8°C of warming,5 a catastrophic outcome. This glaring gap in ambition has been driven in part by a systemic policy omission. Over the past three decades, climate policies have primarily focused on addressing emissions where they exit the smokestack or tailpipe.
Meanwhile, they have largely left the source of those emissions – the oil, gas, and coal extracted by fossil fuel companies – to the vagaries of the market.”
The impact of drilling in the Permian Basin is illustrated in the graphic above and is emphasized throughout Drilling Towards Disaster.
For all of these reasons, Retake Our Democracy will continue to support the youth activist movement arising around the state. They provide a valuable pressure that may well build into a powerful force.
Evidence Youth Climate Activists Are Establishing Credibility Among State Leaders
Yesterday, six youth testified before the Legislative Interim Committee on Science, Technology and Telecommunications and aside from a smirking, condescending line of questioning from Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-District 7, the legislators were clearly impressed and moved, with Senator Michael Padilla asserting that they deserve a seat at the table. He also appeared surprised that the Governor has not responded to their call for a meeting. The Chair, Rep.Debra M. Sariñana, an Albuquerque teacher, asked if the group could come to speak at her school.
At the panel discussion we held last Tuesday night, two legislators were present and they fully embraced the youth actions and demands and encouraged them to continue pressing the governor. So these youth are pushing their way into the room and with a message that is simply not advanced much in NM: We need to find a way to keep it in the ground.
For all the above reasons, we continue to support the youth and their respectfully presented demands. The world is pretending this can all be fixed without sacrifice. We are behaving as if it is just fine to postpone our sacrifice and put it on a sacrifice credit card to be paid with exceedingly high interest by the next generations. The youth making demands today are the same youth who will suffer the consequences of our failure to act, and those consequences will come in a world that can no longer be fixed.
We may not be able to prevent a good deal of horrific climate damage coming in the next 50 years. We are past that point, but we have a responsibility to do all we can to move people in power to recognize the implications of their delay and if that includes “demands,” well I think we are well past the time when we can be constrained by civility.
I think this is an interesting debate….youth 14-20 years old making demands to an experienced, popular governor. But frankly I admire their courage, understand their fears for the future, and applaud their demands.
What do you think?
In solidarity with Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, Paul & Roxanne