The Stone Age Didn’t End for Lack of Stones. Do We Wait Til We Run Out of Oil to Regulate it? It’s Time to Send a Message to Gas & Oil.

We begin with a legislative update, followed by a feature piece on how our legislators are getting weak-kneed in the face of gas and oil lobbyists descrying that this is not the time to “send a message to G&O.” At the end of the post, the poem that won 2nd place in the 2021 Inaugural Poem Contest for Students.

Legislative Update

Advocacy Strategies

For the House: If you want to offer public comment, you can access the Zoom link in our Alerts. When a bill is called, you will be prompted by the Chair: “All those in favor use the ‘raise hand’ function and raise your hand.” ‘This way the committee sees how many people are on the Zoom who favor or oppose the bill. You will then be asked to keep your hand up if you want to offer public comment. Every committee chair handles it differently, but in some cases they limit the number of comments and you may not be called. You will want to be very prepared — in some committees, the time limit is one minute, and in one hearing yesterday the timer was connected to the mute button and people were cut off at exactly one minute. I’ve never seen that. To submit a document to be included in committee members’ e-file for the hearing, you must send that document by attachment to the Committee Secretary 24 hours prior to the hearing. Indicate clearly the bill number.

For the Senate: There is a different process to offer comment in Senate committees. You must email the address given on the committee page by 3 pm the day before the hearing. Your email should include your name, organizational affiliation, the bill number, and whether you’re for or against. Then they will send you a Zoom link. You should receive the Zoom link prior to the hearing, sometimes immediately prior. The Senate employs the same rules for submitting documents. Here is a link to a page with contact info for all committee secretaries.

Watching Hearings. If you are not giving public comment, you can watch the webcast of the committee hearing. All the committee hearings are offered live and recorded. You can view a list of hearings that are in session at this link and on the left of the page you can access recordings of all hearings. I have even had two hearings going at once.

Update on Transformational and Priority Bill Progress.

All Transformational and Priority Bills that have received hearings have passed through their first committee, largely along party lines, with HB 7 Abortion Ban Repeal having passed two committees. It will be voted on by the full House next week, where it will pass. So this will again be up to the Senate. And yes, elections do matter. We have a far different Senate now, and all expectations are that this will be on the Governor’s desk by early February.

HB 47 / SB 100 Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options This bill was heard yesterday morning in House Health and Human Services Committee. I’ve never heard more powerful testimony in the five years I’ve been attending hearings. Rep. Day Hochman testified tearfully about her mother’s long painful dying process, followed by testimony from Committee Chair Debbie Armstrong’s 39-year-old daughter, Erin, who has a terminal disease and suffers from increasing pain from the condition. I have no idea how Rep. Armstrong was able to carry on with her chair responsibilities after hearing her daughter’s wrenching testimony. If you would like to hear their testimony, it begins at 9 minutes 43 seconds. Click here.

HB 47 advanced with a party line vote. But we were told that emails and calls opposing the bill were 100 times or more the number of those received in favor, no doubt due to national and state pro-life advocacy. I defy anyone to listen to Rep. Hochman-Vigil and then to Erin Armstrong and even consider voting no. If you do watch the testimony, you will be very likely to be calling, emailing, and testifying at the next hearing in House Judiciary.

If you want to hear Roxanne and I offer a 30-minute update on what transpired in week 1 and what we expect in week 2, watch below.

Do We Wait Until We Run Out of Oil–and Time–
Before We Regulate Gas & Oil?

As a result of Constituent-Legislator Zoom conversations conducted by Retake, Indivisible Nob Hill, Taos United, and other grassroots groups, we are beginning to get a better understanding of where legislators stand on key bills. And some of what we are hearing will not surprise any of you.

Every single bill that offers any kind of regulation of gas and oil or seeks increase in fees or penalties or hints at any kind of “transition” from gas and oil is being met with “the sky is falling” response from gas and oil lobbyists, with NM Oil & Gas Association leading the charge. Legislators are being influenced by this lobbying; we keep hearing concerns on both sides of the aisle that “this is not the time to send a message to gas and oil.”

My response to this is: when is the right time to send a message? We have wanton disregard for the weak methane regulations that exist, inadequate state staff to conduct inspections, and opposition to any and all efforts to protect our environment. Our only concern seems to be protecting gas and oil profits.

So, again, when is the right time? The price of oil has almost fully recovered from the COVID-fueled decline in oil prices, the oil industry is raking in profits, and the industry has protected itself from any lease moratorium efforts such as ordered by President Biden by proactively buying up thousands of leases at bargain prices. They are poised to drill for decades. So, when do we send them a message? Our legislators are getting weak-kneed. They need to hear from us.

The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones. They discovered metal, a cheaper and easy to use resource. We now have an alternative to gas and oil. We can’t wait to turn the page on gas and oil until we run out of oil because if we do, we will have run out of something else, too: time.

Retake Our Democracy has identified a wide range of environmental bills that are being opposed by the gas and oil lobby:

Transformational Bills:

And Priority Bills:

  • HB 50 Private Right of Action for Certain Statutes
  • HB 51 Environmental Database Act
  • HB 89 Healthy Soil Tax Refund Contribution Option
  • HB 95 Water Administration
  • HB 106 – SB 84 Community Solar Act.
  • SB8 Local Government Air Quality Regulations
  • SB 58 Electric Vehicle Tax Credit.
  • Fracking Moratorium, not yet introduced.

That is an awful lot of bills that will require us to send a message to Gas & Oil. Biden did two days ago, putting a moratorium on gas and oil leases. GM has announced another message: it will not produce gas fueled cars after 2035. When do our elected Democrats send a message. Or do we wait until we’ve run out of oil?

We can start our messaging right now with the Green Amendment. Read on.

Tell the Senate Rules Committee You Want Them to Support Your Right to Clean Air, Pure Water, a Stable Climate & Healthy Environments

Here’s why these organizations all support the Green Amendment

SJR 3 Environmental Rights Act — AKA The New Mexico Green Amendment — proposes to amend our New Mexico Bill of Rights to include an enforceable right of all people, including future generations, to clean air, pure water, a stable climate and healthy environments. In addition, the proposed amendment will:

  • ensure government is focused on prevention of pollution and degradation throughout decision making.
  • provide protection for the cultural indigenous values of our environment, and will recognize the essential health protections that are provided by clean water and air, healthy soils and ecosystems.
  • provide a powerful tool for strengthening environmental justice by ensuring the environmental rights of all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, wealth, address, or generation – are protected equitably across the state.
  • ensure all government officials respect and protect our environmental rights including the legislators, governor, town councils and regulatory agencies.
  • give residents legal redress to secure restoration of their environmental rights if they are infringed upon by government action or inaction.

For this amendment to pass it needs to receive early support from the Senate Rules Committee, after which it will proceed to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration and a vote.

Please join us in telling the Senate Rules Committee to hold a hearing and vote “yes” on SJR3, the New Mexico Green Amendment.

Reach out to the Rules Committee by phone or email. The more personal your message the better but we provide some phone and email talking points below.

Rules Committee Members:

  • Daniel A. Ivey-Soto (D), Chair, 505-397-8830,
  • Katy M. Duhigg (D), Vice Chair, 505-397-8823,
  • Stuart Ingle (R), Ranking Member, 505-986-4702,
  • Gregory A. Baca (R), 505-986-4877,
  • Linda M. Lopez (D), 505-397-8833,
  • Mark Moores (R), 505-986-4856,
  • Bill B. O’Neill (D), 505-397-8838,
  • Jerry Ortiz Y Pino (D), 505-397-8839,
  • Cliff R. Pirtle (R), 505-986-4369,
  • Mimi Stewart (D), 505-397-8853,
  • Peter Wirth (D), 505-397-8855,

Phone and Email talking points/ideas: The suggested language below should provide you with ideas for what to say but please put your phone/email message in your own words. If phoning, leave a message like:

“I’m calling to ask my Senator to vote yes on SJR 3, the Environmental Rights Act, introduced by Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Bill Soules and Harold Pope. Passing this amendment will strengthen protection of our environment, people and environmental justice. Please be a champion for the right of the people to vote for constitutional protection of our rights to pure water, clean air, a stable climate and healthy environments, including the rights of both present and future generations.”

If emailing, send a personal message urging support. Consider using these points along with your own:

Email Subject line: Please Vote for SJR-3 Environmental Rights Act

Dear Senator,

I am asking you, as a member of the Senate Rules Committee, to please vote “yes” to SJR 3, the Environmental Rights Act.

I love New Mexico’s beautiful landscapes, its precious waters, awesome mountain ranges, distinctive ecosystems and wildlife, and the beautiful and inspiring indigenous cultures that are so special to our state. But our environments and people are facing serious challenges from pollution, degradation and environmental abuses. In 1971 our state added Article XX Section 21 to our state constitution intending to raise the bar for environmental protection—but we got the language wrong and nothing changed.

Today we have a chance to get it right. Senators Sedillo Lopez, Senator Soules and Senator Pope are proposing to give the people of New Mexico the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment that will give highest recognition and protection to our environmental rights, ensuring our inalienable rights to pure water, clean air, and healthy environments.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

By Louisiana High School Student Mina King

I have never heard America described as quiet.
Even street lights seem to pulse to some interminable heartbeat
beneath buildings endeavoring for the clouds.
Our purposeful words often laced in ample volume.
In such social engagements
all varieties of people run together—
words flowing, ideas pooling—
eager to share and just as soon to hear.
But have ideas—opportunities—collaborations
extending beyond the bounds of our borders
with reverberations felt through every city, capital, and country
ever began with silence and seclusion?

My stepfather created opportunity
from the destitute nothing he was dealt,
consoled only by the American dream
that came as whispers under snow-dappled stars.
And from these muffled mumblings
he bettered her situation.

He is one of America’s thousands,
evidence of excellence obtained by
those in pursuit of changing their fortune.
And as snow-ridden summits yield to streams
and torrid deserts to the placid waltz of grassy plains,
each of us—
guided by the compass of our will—
is free to climb, swim, or walk
to wherever we may choose.

All countries of ample years have a shadow beneath their flag
cast by historical iniquities amended too late.
But how it still catches the propitious wind!
Always endeavoring to fly higher and baste the somber shade beneath.
As it flutters, we stand reverently
for those who can no longer
and for those who can no longer
and for those who cannot yet.
The horizon an interminable stretch of past and future
we gaze upon it, in remembrance of what was,
yet trekking forward toward what can be.

We are a coalescence of voices,
each with unparalleled inflection,
yet our conglomeration of somber and elated tones
still manages to reach harmony

The diversity of our country
—of opinions and cultures and beliefs—
as extraordinary as the vast, varying landscapes.
Some stand tall, imposing, confident as the Rockies;
the great height of their achievements
not formidable but inspiring.
Still others humble and hushed as the plains;
yet their voice embodied in the breeze touches all.
From formidable but inspiring.
Still others humble and hushed as the plains;
yet their voice embodied in the breeze touches all.
From mountains to marshes to mesas,
we are united in the embrace of the same two seas.
Invaluable are contrasting beliefs
bridged by curiosity and a command desire for betterment.
A miscellany not of problems but possible solutions are we.
Speak up, I implore you,
for in your voice we might find the answer.

The American dream—
one smile, one sunrise,
one decision to pursue an insatiable passion
for words, for equality, for science
—away from the American reality.

When hardships splatter like ebony ink across the skyline,
extinguishing the hues still smoldering from the former day,
pinpricks of hope still remain.
And in these celestial bodies we find solace,
arranging the stars against the somber background into
symbols and pictures of progress.
And beneath them we endure in pursuit of dawn.
Copyright © Mina King. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 30, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation, Uncategorized

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8 replies

  1. HB47 link doesn’t work

  2. If our legislators aren’t willing to ween us off oil & gas now, they should at least be raising revenues by increasing fees to offset the damage. See for example what Amsterdam is doing —

  3. Retake’s valiant and breathtakingly rigorous efforts to legally and respectfully engage in the democratic process in NM are admirable, in the extreme.

    However, as in years past, there is always a ‘but.’

    Retake, and other NGOs, worked savagely to weed out a number of DINOs and some extinct R members, in both state chambers. A lot of politicians made encouraging remarks after Nov., new chairs were appointed, new and better laws introduced, citizen input, during C19, was shored up as best it could be done, feedback loops are working, calls are going through, emails sent, etc. etc.

    The elephants in the room are also working hard, and they have the edge – money and propaganda.

    As in the past, the leverage of the ‘insiders,’ notably the monied special interests with big bucks, tons of lawyers, captive press and, of course, indebted politicos, are working their diabolic magic in the legislature. There are a thousand ways to practice influence peddling, bribery, extortion, intimidation and threats.

    And seduction. As Whimpey used to say – ‘I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.’

    I had a great friend who was a military interrogator in South Korea. An intelligent, well-educated, decent and likeable guy, he often regaled me with accounts of the effectiveness of Stockholm Syndrome when breaking down both military and civilian detainees.

    He would have made a great lobbyist. Follow the money and the notoriety. Who has it now, who wants it, who knows how to use it. The state has money, lots of it, in the Permanent Fund. You would ‘think’ that now is a paramount time to use a lot of it to help the State of New Mexico, i,e., its sovereign citizens, for whom the state constitution was written. No sarcasm intended.

    But, NM needs an operating budget, and O’nG use Stockholm Syndrome to extort the ‘carte blanche’ power to be as greedy and irresponsible as they choose with a ‘take it or leave it’ stalemate to legislators. The Guv is already a done deal. PNM is no different, as are all the other powerful lobbies that manipulate the democratic process of the citizenry.

    Pragmatism is a synonym for prison.

    How can we fix what the legislature ‘does’ until we fix what the legislature ‘is?’

    Without a paid, professional legislature, honestly and heavily vetted by the media and the public via numerous town halls prior to elections, and chosen via ranked-choice voting, with staggered term limits and rotating paid staff to avoid concentrations of ideological power, the 1.9 million sovereigns of NM will be nothing more than detainees in the desert of Guantanamo.

    I suggest that the citizen NGOs press hard for citizen referendums to be made into law, with strict rules as to their politization prior to the vote. All political positions in NM be subject to ranked-choice voting. All political appointees must be subject to vetting and approval via a non-political, anonymous and rotating citizen committee, or they simply do not get the jobs.

    Lobbying must be strictly monitored and heavily scrutinized, in addition to being severely limited. Influence peddling serves the few, at the expense of the many.

    IF, a BiG IF, ALL the extractive industires want to continue to do business in NM, they MUST pay for heavy state regulation, with fines 10x what they are now, and ample regulators hired and protected with state police, and each and every royalty, fine or promissory payment from these industries be doubled and paid monthly into the state treasury. Late payments are $100k per day.

    Their other option – become citizen-owned, non-profit corps with ALL earnings put under citizen control and 100% transparent, with all management salaries topped out at 100k$ per year.

    NM has suffered from laissez faire capitalism forever, and it will die unless we rid ourselves of it.

    Mick Nickel

    • Mick your comments are concise and intelligent. However, what is a professional legislature? Is that Washington? While I agree with the town hall and public opinion – “Heavily Vetted by the Media?” The Media is 95% percent controlled by one group. Heck, Disney runs both sides of the isle in this country with CNN and FOX. You play ball or they break you. If your gonna take back the legislature, you better start with the media.

      If you meant only state media in NM, most owned by same group through subsidiaries, but it might be more fair than national.

      Thanks for the rest of your comment. Particularly, your bit about your friend. Also liked your Fine ideas. That might catch some attention. All the best.

  4. My post is awaiting your recognition.

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