Should Youth Issue “Demands” to Our Governor?

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,, 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

Youth Climate Activists Testify to Legislative Committee Yesterday

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

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18 replies

  1. I agree that our youth, and their adult supporters, need to pressure our governor to take stronger action on the climate crisis. That pressure is needed in part to counter the much stronger pressure she is undoubtedly getting from the fossil fuel industry upon which our state depends.

  2. First, activists and progressives differ in knowledge and understanding of the two main variables sickening and killing Life on earth: Global Warming and the Poisoning of Life on Earth.

    Second, when comparing MLG to Martinez, MLG may appear ‘progressive’.

    But, what is needed, is to compare a person’s views and actions with what must be done to avert a slow but total collapse of our biosphere’s (past) equilibrium, as it existed about 200 years ago.

    MLG is not one of a very few American politicians, if there is any, we could name who holds such knowledge, views and understanding.

    If she was such a person/politician she probably would not have been elected governor.

  3. I sort of agree with the constrained by civility remark. It seems that civility has gotten us collectively no where. Lip service and nods…uh huh, uh huh.

    Greta’s ” How Dare You? ” in far more relevant.
    I believe all politicians and O G persons should look in the mirror daily and ask
    themselves two questions:
    1. WHAT the Hell is wrong with you?!
    2. How dare you ( continue to support existential threats to the next generation of humans and living things)

  4. I believe that being uninformed about Governor Lujan Grisham’s ties to oil and gas is destructive. The person who made the comment about how progressive she is on the environment clearly needs to think again. As you have clearly demonstrated here, the facts do not support this view. Thank you for standing with youth. The Climate Emergency will only get more urgent, the longer we and they fail to act.

  5. Hi Paul and Roxanne. The gov will be chatting it up today with the OandG moguls. She will attempt to walk that fine line between poverty and payola, pragmatism and pathos. Realistically, poverty is pathos, while pragmatism leads to payola. But will payola lead to necessary progress?

    This behavior is well-documented within the denier class, those who really deny there is no elephant in the room right now, but only a stray jackal or two. Later? Maybe, but right now we have to pretend that we all care so much about our future that accepting payola to put more lipstick on the pig that is our fundamentally flawed, consumption-addicted behavior is worth the price of extortion.

    Let’s be savagely honest. If any of us have any level of comfort or security, right now, that separates us from those truly in poverty (youth, students, minorities, immigrants, the homeless, the psychologically distraught, the elderly living on SS or some tiny pension, the ‘other’), we absolutely WILL NOT change our behaviors.

    We will talk it to death. We will study it to death. We will meet, organize, rally, protest, bring lawsuits, vote to replace one SOB with another, recycle some plastic, donate to a few organizations, buy a Prius if we can afford it, and fly to Cancun for a breather. We will, like the gov, spin our brains into the smoothie that nourishes all ills, solves all puzzles, dissolves all contradictions, cures all conundrums. These are the ‘rah-rah’ behaviors required to survive in a paradox whose only resolution is also death.

    As long as the boat is floating, do not rock it. Kids, be quiet. Know your place. At the bottom of the one-upsmanship pecking order. Take your licks, learn from us, and we will show you how to find your place, somewhere above that ‘other’ whose neck you will find beneath your massively over-priced footwear.

    For at least 6k years, payola has led to – more payola for a few, and miserable persecution for all the rest. This is what passes for progress, human style: extorted pathos, the sickness leading to extinction.

    “This life, which had been the tomb of his virtue and of his honour, is but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” William Shakespeare

    Life, the tomb of virtue and honor. We are prisoners in this paradigm, now addicts to Stockholm Syndrome.

    I saw Ad Astra last week. Progress, through the thorns, to the stars, to find our more perfect selves. Conclusion: we biological beings on this Earth are it. Period. The movie’s message – submit, abandon all hope, revere this life so deeply that all effort is directed to love, compassion and humility.

    I will paraphrase Keats: Beauty is truth, and truth, beauty; that is all we know (as truth) on Earth, and all we need to know. When we were young, we felt this. This is what these youth are now reminding us of, the second chance to love life, the gift of this Earth. One exit from this paradigm is here:

    What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
    Hope and fear are both phantoms
    that arise from thinking of the self.
    When we don’t see the self as self,
    what do we have to fear?
    See the world as your self.
    Have faith in the way things are.
    Love the world as your self;
    then you can care for all things. Tao de Ching, #13

    Mick Nickel

    • You’re right. We’re addicts. Renewable energy alone will not stave off climate change extremes and oil/gas pollution; we probably have to cut back quite a lot on consumption. But you can’t sell that, so no one tries to.
      How about a 12-step program for consumption addiction?

      • Habituated behavior appears normal, especially when it is not. And, of course, when the edges of those behaviors become ragged, the denial machine begins in earnest. I like my miserable life, just as it is. It is ‘perfect.’ This species was never equipped to leave the trees. When it did, all balance was lost.

  6. We must make demands of our elected officials. That’s the way democracy works.

    Burning fossil fuels, oil and gas, is killing us. If we continue on this path, there is likely no future for humans (or most life) on Earth. In New Mexico Oil and Gas funds our government. We MUST make a conscious choice, either continue to rely on oil and gas revenues and be okay with complicity in the end of our species, or say no. There is no middle ground here. Life for younger people alive today and future generations depends on what we do NOW.


  7. Of all the strategies ‘environmentalists’ used for the past 60 years this fairly new one needs to used by the YUCCA kids.

  8. Should youth make demands of the Governor? Well…since the its the government that has fallen behind in leadership, then YES of course youth, and everyone else, should make demands, and keep on making demands, until the government remembers it’s job: to LEAD the people.
    It is the government who should have been coming to us, the people, telling US that we need to protect our environment, that we need to switch to renewable energies, that we need to conserve our most valuable resources for our children’s well being, that everybody ought to be getting on board to do all the things we need to do in order to go into the future as a strong nation. But instead its the government that constantly does the wrong thing, that gives away the people’s resources to the megarich corporations, that subsidizes the big banks & fossil fuel companies.

    And this total lack of leadership from our so-called government “leaders” makes it necessary for youth (and everyone else) to try go head to head and fix things ourselves, and somehow go up to governors, congresspeople, judges, the PRC, and demand whatever it takes to try to force the “leaders” to follow the lead of the people who are already doing the right thing. The people should keep up the pressure until the government gets the point and gets ahead of the curve, and comes comes to US with a plan to do the right thing, before CHILDREN have to take the first initiative to demand it of them.

    Its a pretty sad statement about the world, but it seems to be true that its only when the people lead, the leaders will follow.

  9. Interesting that on the same day, Retake Our Democracy posts about how the MLG administration isn’t doing enough about the climate crisis while the Rio Grande Foundation put up a post about how various administration staffers are attending a conference looking at how to eliminate fossil fuels and suggests that this is evidence that the MLG administration is conspiring with ‘extreme environmentalists’ to eliminate fossil fuels:

    Left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Policy schizophrenia? General mistrust of government by everybody, so let’s always assume the worst possible motives of any politician that doesn’t follow one’s policy suggestions to the letter?

    • Thank you for this William. But I bridle at the suggestion that Retake and other advocates “always assume the worst of possible motives of any politician.” All the administration had to do was to publicize their participation in that conference and we would have applauded this. But for now, the public face of the administration, as captured in the Rio Grande Foundation report, is 100% go G&O. Everything in the post remains true, but we would obviously welcome an about face. Maybe her staff came back with some strategies for the 2020 legislative session. If that is the case, letter advocates know so we can build support might be a good idea.

      • Apologize for the rather snippy comment. I know that you don’t “always assume the worst possible motives of any politician” (even though it is tempting to do so with many in the political class these days).

    • Hi William. The RG Foundation is a John Birch throwback, or throwaway. The gov today told OandG that TWO department heads and their staffs are there to work for them. Is that confusing? Is it confusing that a number of big-name enviro groups essentially colluded with PNM and the legislative heavy hitters to ram through SB489, which is one step away from an electric oligarchy? Another writer suggested that govt. should have been coming forward with all the necessary ideas about all the things the citizenry truly needs. For a little while, some govts. did this, and the reaction was so retrograde we went backward 400 years in just 40 years, now teetering on the edge of a religious plutocracy whose board of governors is the SCOTUS and whose CEOs are members of the COTUS and POTUS. I am not confused by this. We were told in school that the citizens were the sovereigns, and the politicians worked for us. After that whopper of a lie came the next 86,479 lies, and we are still counting. Catch 22. We will not save the planet as we destroy it.

  10. This question brings to mind the famous quotation of the great 19th century African American leader Frederick Douglass, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

    The paragraph containing that line:
    “The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her August claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all‐absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

    A protest without concrete demands is meaningless. I’m happy to help second the demands the youth of NM are making so eloquently. Those demands are direct, practical and achievable, and we should be doing everything we can to advance them.

  11. Yes David, let’s do it, we, the 20th century generations, what is left of us, are responsible for the dying, moribund Earth we are leaving the children/youth of the 21st century. Not only we should support them but we should create our own movement with our own demands. A parallel movement of adults.
    We can call it the Sunset Movement, after all many of us are in the Fall and Winter of our lives. We can send the message that All Americans support our children and grandchildren, not just those ‘activists’ running environmental organizations like and Earth Care.
    We should walk our talk.
    The system, the one we call Democracy, was never such a thing. This system always worked perfectly for the plutocrats and oligarchs because it was created, with all its necessary laws, for their personal use.
    We can change it, maybe indirectly, by attempting to save what is left of Life on the (not our) planet.
    When we begin to work for Life we stop working for Capitalism, for Money, for the illusion of Democracy. When we begin to work for life we begin to work for our well-being, for the well-being of our children, grandchildren, our community, our city, state, our country, for the well-being of the air, water, soils and oceans that nurture us and all Life…
    When we begin to work for Life on earth we may be able to create a true, all inclusive system, akin to biological systems which do not create WASTE like our societies and which may be the closest thing to the true Democracy very few humans ever experienced in the history of our civilizations. Civilizations always guided and controlled by the war and male competition principles and by male emperors, male generals, male presidents, male dictators…..

    A SUNSET MOVEMENT can be created. Maybe must be created. But it must only work for the benefit of All of Life.

    What do you think?

  12. Forty years of science and facts did nothing to change the course of fossil fuel consumption. The reduction in quality of life, impacts on health, and the ongoing corruption, have all been normalized. Evey other nation that relies on extraction and fossil fuel for revenue found their democracies undermined and destroyed. We are seeing he same thing here. The Oil and Gas industry had their way with the previous administration, and undermined our state government. local media and the entire process. Now corruption is normal, any amount of money can be given directly to candidates, and dark money groups operate behind the scenes.

    The oil and gas industry supports an ongoing divisive propaganda campaign, against any reasonable regulations, restrictions or taxes. They will endorse racism, alternate facts, xenophobia and any manner of lies and propaganda to get their way.

    Our governor like her predecessor will go with the side with the most money. It is very clear from her position as a “consultant” for one of the corrupt health insurance companies, whose side she is on. We voted for a less worse candidate, there was no other option. Years ago, the corporate ties and corruption were a disqualifier for public office, now they are required.

    The Gas Lighting continues. The young people have no idea how insidious the campaign against them is, or they would be a lot more demanding. Marketing psychologists told educators they could distract them with meaningless projects on “climate change.” They could alleviate some of the distress and anxiety by Gas Lighting them, distracting them or getting them engaged in something else. The psychological distress is obvious, yet instead of addressing it, they continue to gaslight them all. Marketers, with the help of our elected officials know just how to manipulate young minds. The regulations that used to protect children from deceptive marketing are no longer enforced.

  13. Maybe the “Youth” need to read things like this,

    “The environmental movement must thoroughly understand neoliberalism to avoid underestimating it as an adversary—or, worse, falling for its charms.”

    Every day our local and mass media has a story about an “entrepreneur.” The media got a lot of mileage with this guy,

    Of course we can all tune out, and pretend that we are “Meta Humans” a condition that is popular around here. A good percentage of people around here don’t believe in science or facts, Neoliberalism has a solution for that too.

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