To keep people engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have developed a webinar series focused on social, environmental, and economic issues in New Mexico. For all Zoominars, you must pre-register to secure your virtual “seat” in the Zoom. Find links to previously recorded Zoominars at the bottom of the page.
You may also want to check out Retake Conversations, video recordings of our Retake radio show on KSFR.
Stay tuned. .
Public Power: What Is It, How Would NM Benefit, and How Can We Achieve It
Below is the recording of Thursday night’s conversation focused on the unethical corporate behavior of Avangrid and the opportunity NM has to create a public power utility. In doing so, NM could significantly advance the goals of the ETA, accelerating our transition to renewables while also facilitating NM’s using our plentiful wind and solar potential energy to transform our state economy. We spoke with Bill Dunn and Vaughan Woodruff, two leading Maine public utility advocates, Bob Bresnahan, a founder of Renewable Taos and a trustee of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, and Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy and crackerjack utility attorney.https://www.youtube.com/embed/eg9MIhZ_Qk0?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent
Public Power: What Is It, How Would NM Benefit, and How Can We Achieve It
Below is the recording of Thursday night’s conversation focused on the unethical corporate behavior of Avangrid and the opportunity NM has to create a public power utility. In doing so, NM could significantly advance the goals of the ETA, accelerating our transition to renewables while also facilitating NM’s using our plentiful wind and solar potential energy to transform our state economy. We spoke with Bill Dunn and Vaughan Woodruff, two leading Maine public utility advocates, Bob Bresnahan, a founder of Renewable Taos and a trustee of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, and Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of New Energy Economy and crackerjack utility attorney.
Wednesday, April 7, 6pm. Conversation with Joe Monahan. What Happened in the 2021 Session? Why? What Can We Do Going Forward? Joe Monahan is the most informed political pundit in NM. He joined us in conversation to lay out his views on what happened and why, what is wrong with the legislative process and what we can do to pass more bills in 2022.
Tuesday, Dec. 1, 6:30 – 8 pm. Election Debrief and 2021 Legislative Agenda Review with Senate Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, Senate Floor Leader Peter Wirth, and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf. We discussed how the primaries and the general election have altered the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate and what those changes mean for getting transformational legislation passed in 2021. All three were optimistic!
Monday, October 5. PRC Constitutional Amendment: Commissioners Appointed or Elected. The Pros & Cons. We discussed the history of the PRC, its strengths and failings as well as the pros and cons for passing a NM State Constitutional Amendment to shift from electing PRC Commissioners to having the Governor appoint them. The Amendment would also reduce the number of PRC Commissioners to three. Lot’s at stake on this and many people have asked for this Zoominar. We scheduled this very special zoominar to occur the night before early voting begins in NM. Please share this with other voters. To review our position on Amendment 1 (vote no), click here.
Tuesday, September 15, 6:30 pm – 8 pm. Water Policy, Quality and Management in New Mexico. We assembled a tremendous panel for our discussion of the water challenges facing NM. We all realize that we are a drought state and that with global warming and the growing climate crisis, we face an existential challenge here in NM. What many may not appreciate, is the degree to which we are fiddling while NM burns and how even if we wanted to address this challenge, we would do so with both hands tied behind our backs. The panel included Norm Gaume, former director of the NM Interstate Streams Commission; David Gutzler, internationally respected climate change researcher from UNM; and Linda Cardenas, sustainability practitioner and President of Middle Rio Grande Water Advocates.
Rep. Melanie Stansbury was slated to participate, however, she had to bow out due to an emergency. You’ll find a separate 53-minute interview with Rep. Stansbury at this link, focused almost exclusively on water issues and Rep. Stansbury’s plans to introduce legislation to enable the state to better prepare for what is coming.
Tuesday, August 4. NM State Election Strategies: Who Can Win, Who Needs a Push and What YOU Can Do. Panelists include: Eric Griego, Working Families Party of NM, Andrea Serrano from Olé, and representatives from Indivisible, Nasty Women, and other grassroots groups who are working on campaigns. Find out key races where wins are possible and races where good Democrat incumbents face stiff challenges. Find out the nuances involved in organizing successful campaigns and the many ways in which you can support a campaign. We have a unique opportunity in 2021, a Democratic Governor, a strongly progressive House, and potentially a completely transformed Senate. Now we need to finish the job and make great candidates into great legislators. Find out how we can create a Legislature ready to pass a Public Bank, Health Security, Tax Reform, Funding for Early Childhood, and to pave the way for a just transition in NM.
Tuesday, July 21, Redistricting in NM. Panelists include Dick Mason, NM League of Women Voters, Kathleen Burke, Fair Districts New Mexico, and Senators Gerry Ortiz y Pino and Mark Moores. People have been trying to pass legislation to create a state constitutional amendment for decades and it runs into a brick wall every year. What is with that? We now have the perfect opportunity to get it done: Democrats in charge of everything. Find out why that may not be the chemistry needed to get this done. Find out how gerrymandering has diminished the political power of communities of color. Find out who is pulling the strings to prevent an independent redistricting commission. If you are into comic relief, start at the beginning and watch Roxanne and I fumble through trying to launch an introductory video for 1 minute 40 seconds. Otherwise, skip to 1m 40s to start the Zoominar. It really is worth your time.
Tuesday, July 7, 6:30-8 pm, Health Security Act in NM, A Dream That Could Become Reality in 2021. We were joined by Mary Feldblum, Executive Director of Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, an organization she formed in 1992. Also on the panel were Tyler Taylor, a Los Alamos physician and member of the Campaign’s Executive Committee, and Shelley Mann-Lev, a Board Member for the NM Public Health Association and chair of their policy committee.
We got off to a rocky start, as we had problems with our laptop sound, so we had about 3 minutes to quickly set up Roxanne’s 10 year-old laptop and pray. Her computer worked fine, but we failed to record our intro and the panelist’s introducing themselves. So the recording begins with the first question and we covered a great deal: what is the HSA? Why would it benefit NM? We also discussed the results of numerous studies demonstrating the viability of the HSA. Finally, we panelists discussed how COVID has exposed our failed medical and public health systems and how the HSA could repair the damage, at least here in NM.
This is New Mexico’s chance to do something very important. We can be the beacon for the nation, demonstrating the efficacy of universal healthcare. The HSA and Public Banking are our two absolute top priorities in the 2021 legislative session, and while we will certainly support other legislation, we will begin advocacy for those two initiatives this month. If you missed the Zoominar live, you’ll want to see it now….
June 23, 2020. Conversation About the Enormous Benefits of Forming a NM State Public Bank with Public Banking Advocate Leadership & Experts. Our panel: Elaine Sullivan, Board President of New Mexico’s Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity (NM AFLEP), Angela Merkert, the Executive Director of NM AFLEP and Melissa Pickett, Outreach Coordinator for NM AFLEP. Joining them is Paul Stull, NM Credit Union Association, who will describe why the Association has endorsed the public banking initiative, and Ellen Brown, the author of The Web of Debt and The Public Banking Solution.
With the state experiencing a budget crisis, every strategy to maximize our financial resources is critical, and public banking has immense potential for supporting the state’s financial capacity and advancing economic justice. AFLEP has been hard at work building alliances throughout the state, and they have a bill that will be introduced in 2021, not to study public banking, but to do it. This was an important discussion and we hope you will view it and share it with your friends.
June 9, 2020. How PNM Runs Circles Around Our Legislature and PRC, and How A Group of Local Shareholder Activists Are Exposing PNM’s Dissembling: For years, PNM has been laying the groundwork for foisting the costs of its own business mistakes onto the ratepayers of New Mexico. In the past year’s debate over PNM’s role in the Energy Transition Act (ETA) many of us have been confused by the competing rhetoric, with environmental groups often pitted against each other. This Zoominar hosts a group of local activists who purchased shares in PNM stock five years ago and formed PNM Shareholders for a Responsible Future. In the process of their work, they have come to understand how PNM has maneuvered, especially during the creation of the ETA, to turn its failed policies into a corporate gold mine.
For the past five years, these activists have introduced resolutions and asked questions at the PNM Annual Meeting to increase attention to the urgency of climate change, and to pressure the utility to strike a balance between shareholder profits and the company’s responsibility to the people and environment of our state. Group members shared their questions from the May 12 Annual Shareholder meeting, exploring how the ETA dramatically restricts the regulatory power of the PRC not only with respect to the San Juan Generating Station, but also Four Corners and Palo Verde. The questions also illuminate how badly both ratepayers and the environment are served by PNM’s plans for replacement power at San Juan.
May 26, 6:30, 2020. Conversation with NM Voices for Children About the NM State Budget Crisis with Amber Wallin, Deputy Director; Bill Jordan, Government Relations Officer; and Paige Knight, Research and Policy Analyst. Joining this panel will be Rep. Javier Martinez, chair of the House Tax & Revenue Committee. Reverend William Barber declared that a budget is a moral document and New Mexico faces a budget crisis that will force difficult choices. We want those decisions to be made with a strong economic justice lens focused squarely on each choice. But to advocate effectively for a budget requires your understanding the choices. This discussion does an excellent job of framing the special budget session on June 18. Best line of the night, Bill Jordan: “We don’t have a budget crisis; we have a revenue crisis.”
May 19, 2020, Conversation About Gas & Oil Influence in NM Legislature featuring Heather Ferguson, Executive Director, Common Cause NM; Dede Feldman, former NM State Senator and author; and Kathleen Sabo, Executive Director,NM Ethics Watch. We discussed their exhaustive study “The New Mexico Oil and Gas Industry and Its Allies: Oceans of oil, oceans of influence.” If you wonder how the Produced Water Act came from nowhere and without any discussion was passed into law in the last days of the session and in the wee hours of the morning, Zoom in. We will discuss Produced Water, the failure to pass any meaningful regulatory legislation, and how the gas and oil lobby blocks our ability to initiate steps toward a just transition. We don’t get what we want and what the planet needs because the deck is stacked in the NM state legislature, stacked by the gas and oil industry who spend millions on campaign donations, lobbyists, and entertaining. They control not just what can be passed in the legislature, but even if a bill will ever be heard in a legislative committee. The link above will take you to the Common Cause NM web page where you can download the full report.
May 5, 2020. Zoominar with Dahr Jamail and Greg Rogers. Based on emails and results of a poll of attendees, this Zoominar was a powerful, far ranging discussion that attendees appreciated greatly. We spoke with internationally known author Dahr Jamail, the author of The End of Ice, named one of the Ten Best Science Books of 2019 by Smithsonian and a finalist for the 2020 Pen/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Joining Dahr was attorney, author, and CPA Greg Rogers who wrote the seminal book, Financial Reporting of Environmental Liabilities and Risks. We discussed Dahr’s March 30, 2020 article from Truthout, “Could COVID-19 Spell the End of the Fracking Industry As We Know It?” To read our post about Dahr’s article, click here. It will frame the discussion below. His article analyzes the recent precipitous drop in oil prices and the impact of that collapse on the New Mexico state economy. But far beyond a discussion of the price of oil, we delved into the messages being sent by COVID, the degree to which our response to COVID should inform our approach to climate policy, our advocacy, and our daily lives. Rogers got specific about legislative and legal steps the state needs to do to protect itself from G&O bankruptcies. We also delved into the real possibility of Donald Trump not accepting the November election results, with a Senate, Supreme Court, federal court system and Fox Media ready to echo is calls of “hoax.” A fascinating discussion.
April, 21, 2020. Community Meeting with Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard and Land Commission General Counsel Ari Biernoff. We discussed how the Land Commission can currently regulate the gas and oil industry and what legislative remedies might be possible to increase that capacity, increase royalties and penalties, and slow the pace of lease approvals. We discussed what is politically feasible given the state budget crisis and plunging oil prices, and what is necessary given those same conditions.
April 14, 2020. Candidate Forum with both Democratic District 3 candidates for Public Regulation Commission (PRC). The PRC plays a crucial role in trying to regulate our use of energy in NM and currently is caught in a battle with the Governor and the legislature over the scope of their authority, whether commissioners should be elected or appointed, and now, even where they will be physically located. Current Dist. 3 commissioner Valerie Espinoza is leaving the due to term limits. Two excellent candidates are running for her seat: Former Espanola Mayor and Santa Fe City Council member, Joe Maestas; and Brian Harris, who for thirteen years has either worked at the PRC or been a ratepayer expert advocate at their hearings. Unfortunately, we began the video recording about 30 seconds into the video, so you will miss a bit of our introduction outlining coming Zoominars, but that info is above on this page.