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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Daily Kos Diary: Where's the Heat? Rio Arriba Roasts NM Gov Over Gas

Gov. Martinez visits Espanola

The still ongoing lack of heat in the Espanola and Taos areas of northern New Mexico prompted the Daily Kos blogger known as TheFatLadySings, a resident of Northern New Mexico, to write a diary about their now almost week-long gas outages. The outages were caused initially by rolling blackouts in Texas and various impacts of severe winter weather. Although New Mexico's gas delivery infrastructure has now been rebalanced, thousands of Northern New Mexico residents are still waiting for service to be restored because of delays in getting people's gas meters operational and pilot lights lit.

The diary, Where's the Heat? Rio Arriba Roasts New Mexico Governor Over Heat and the video (above) report on Republican New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez's visit to Espanola last night. Martinez had to face some angry Rio Arriba County residents and government officials, many of whom are still suffering with no gas for heating or cooking and, sometimes, no hot water or no water at all, as another frigid and windy winter storm heads their way.

The diary questions how decisions were made to shut down gas service to certain areas and not others. While the gas is still out in many areas of Rio Arriba and Taos counties, service has gone largely uninterrupted in much more prosperous areas like Los Alamos and Santa Fe counties. Excerpt:

How did they decide whom to shut down? Well that decision was certainly not based on temperature since warmer areas stayed online while some communities such as Rio Arriba and Taos (which experienced temperatures as low as 36 degrees below zero) were removed from the grid. It also was not based on ease of reconnection. Rio Arriba's population density of about 6 persons per square mile combined with impassible dirt roads and dubious rural addressing make it hard to reach.

Even more incredibly, two of the coldest counties in NM, Rio Arriba and Taos, remain off the grid nearly a week into the shutdown.

... Strangely enough, Gas Company of New Mexico pegged the two coldest counties, Rio Arriba and Taos, as the last to be restored. Rio Arriba's closest neighbors, Los Alamos and Santa Fe counties, are the wealthiest in New Mexico. Los Alamos is home to a national laboratory and Santa Fe to the state legislature while Rio Arriba is the stomping grounds of Hispanics, Native Americans and gas wells. Could money and influence have anything to do with Rio Arriba's predicament?

The diary also discusses Gov. Martinez's close ties with moneyed energy interests and Texas wheeler dealers as evidenced in her campaign contributors list:

Questions about the conduct of gas, oil and energy lobbies had surfaced in New Mexico during the Gubenatorial Campaign. Martinez received unprecedented donations from Texas including a single contribution of $450,000 from Texas land developer Robert Perry and his wife. Martinez had already become the target of questions when she accepted a donation of $117,000 from Mack Energy in Artesia. While the "energy shortage" is being discussed throughout the nation as a product of over-regulation, it is in fact the result of deregulation which has allowed energy corporations to avoid investment in new infrastructure and the building of redundancies into the grid.

In an earlier post here, I laid out some of the big donors to Susana's inauguration fund, which included many energy-related contributors:

Over the weekend, Republican Governor Susana Martinez's transition team released a list of donors that paid for her inaugural shindig in Santa Fe. It's shocking, I know, but Martinez’s BOLD inaugural party largely ran on oil, gas and cash from powerful interests. BP, Xcel, Yates and Western Refining were among the heavy-hitting energy companies that powered Martinez’s party.

...Other power interests also gave big, including Peabody Energy ($10,000), PNM Responsible Citizens Group ($25,000), El Paso Corp. ($2,500), El Paso Electric ($10,000), El Paso Natural Gas ($2,500), New Mexico Gas Company ($2,500), New Mexico Gas Company HEAT PAC ($2,500), New Mexico Propane Gas Association ($5,000), Pinnacle West: Arizona Public Service ($25,000) and Southern Union Gas Services ($10,000).

...Some of the same big donors from oil and gas and other special interests that funded her primary and general election campaigns also gave big for her inaugural. Some of them have even become part of the governor's transition team. And remember, Martinez got blobs of campaign bucks from a number of big business moguls and oil interests from Texas, as well.

El Paso Electric is one of the Texas utilities that instituted the rolling blackouts that made it impossible to pump adequate gas into New Mexico's system, causing the shutdowns to the system. The company's blackouts also periodically disrupted electric service in areas of southern New Mexico in and around Las Cruces and other parts of Dona Ana County.

February 8, 2011 at 11:50 AM in Energy, Susana Martinez, Weblogs | Permalink


Say it: One Term Governor.

Posted by: bg | Feb 8, 2011 12:30:54 PM

All Martinez does is blame everyone else. She doesn't hold herself accountable. In the Journal today she says she told the gas co. she had more national guard troops to help and they refused them. The gas co. people say they don't know what she is talking about. I believe the gas co. Susana Martinez = NO LEADER

Posted by: Brecker | Feb 8, 2011 1:11:24 PM

I'm so happy we are patterning ourselves after Texas where everything is falling apart except the mansions of the rich.

Posted by: Sean | Feb 8, 2011 5:04:20 PM

Where's all the gas? It's being used in the 8ooo sq ft monstrosity Susana Martinez and her 'bologna sandwich' making husband live in. The rest, has been cut off to some of the poorest parts of the state by her biggest campaign contributors from Texas...on purpose.
Mark my word.

Posted by: Dana | Feb 24, 2011 2:12:15 PM