Monday, March 27, 2023

The Promises We Make


By Jared Ames

I am the Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico’s Environmental Justice Caucus, as well as a longstanding Ward Chair of my district. Supporting and developing sound environmental policies with all members of my community in a democratic, nuanced, and balanced way that works with our current systems is important to me. Above all, making sure we make every step to remedy longstanding environmental injustices is core to my ethos.

Historically, New Mexico has had sacrifice zones where low-income communities of color live and work in areas where extractive industries and industrial pollution have made residents the recipients of the cumulative impacts of the climate crisis. This means the communities that contribute the least to climate change bear the largest consequences of the climate crisis.

So what do we do about this? What can our communities do about this? The answers
always lead us to our city, county, state and tribal leadership to enact policy changes to benefit our state. This year, the Local Choice Energy Act (LCE), SB 165, is taking the lead as one possible solution we need to pass immediately. It will not be the only solution, but we need all the strategies and tactics and policies we can get to do the heavy lifting we need to avert climate change disaster. It will help our communities rapidly transition to renewable energy, while creating jobs, lowering bills, and investing in local economies.   

LCE will allow municipalities, counties, and tribes to generate, purchase, and price renewable electricity, which will be transmitted in partnership with the existing utilities on the grid for the same terms and fees they charge their existing customers. When passed, LCE will advance solar throughout the state while bolstering revenue streams of the communities and municipalities that opt into it. LCE will lower electricity costs for residents.

One of the beauties of LCE is that it is a platform that will allow our communities to design and launch renewable programs that meet their community needs. This is exactly what environmental justice looks like: implementing renewables that take the cost burden off whole communities while investing in local New Mexican economies. In the 10 states that have this policy we see so many examples of rapid 100% renewable transition, job creation, community investment, lower bills, and more revenue in local government budgets to meet community needs. 

For me, Local Choice Energy is an option for New Mexico to meet real zero emissions in the electricity sector by 2050. Given this promise was made by a Governor Lujan Grisham and is written into the DPNM Party Platform, we must use every opportunity available to us to uphold this promise. Anything less is a failure of my own party. It is up to us, the voters, to hold our elected officials accountable to their own words and promises. For these reasons I write to you and ask for your support in getting the Local Choice Energy Act passed this 2023 Legislative Session. We have 60 days to put in the work of calling our elected officials and asking them to take the necessary steps to helping us move forward with our promises to the people, the environment, and the globe—all while clearly impacting our pocketbooks in the most positive way!



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