Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Watch Susana Martinez Flip Flop on Film Industry Tax Rebates: Ask Her to Keep Her Word

The short video clip above show's New Mexico's Republican governor, Susana Martinez, flip flopping on her position about the increasingly vital film industry in our state. During the campaign Martinez said, "I certainly support the film industry being in New Mexico and being second in he nation, second to Hollywood."

Susana also said that, if elected, she would "order an independent economic review" of film incentives. "We have to do a good, tough, strong audit and then make it very visible to voters. I want to make sure that we give this information to New Mexicans -- open the books so you understand how good it is for this state or not. If it's great for the state, we'll keep on doing it at full force," Martinez said.

She never did. Instead, she called for New Mexico's film incentives to be cut from 25% to 15% almost as soon as she was sworn in. That's called bait and switch.

Take Action: Let's hold Susana Martinez accountable and ask her to keep her word about getting an independent economic review before doing anything to jeopardize the 10,000+ jobs the industry has created in New Mexico, as well as the many financial benefits to a myriad of small, local businesses that the film industry has created here. Call the governor at 505-476-2200.

Senate Tracking and Review Bill
By the way, Senate Bill 44, Film Production Tax Credit Tracking and Review, sponsored by Sen. Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque), passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 39-0 and now moves to the New Mexico House. The bill requires exactly what Martinez originally said she wanted -- a clear assessment of the impact of New Mexico's Film Production Tax Credit on the citizens of the state.

"With this consensus bill, we will know exactly how much money is spent on film, and what our return on investment is,” said Sen. Keller. Eric Witt, executive director of the Motion Picture Association of New Mexico, said the industry supports the legislation. Read more about the bill here.

Take Action: SB 44 will be heard in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee (HRTC) next up. Please call or email your representative in the House, as well as members of the HRTC and urge them to support SB 44.

House Film Industry Bill
Awaiting action on the House side is HTRC Substitute for HB 607/HB622, a flawed compromise bill that puts a $45 million cap on annual expenditures for the film industry tax credit, as well as other measures aimed at delaying payments and tightening requirements. The annual cap had originally been $65 million. The Motion Picture Association of New Mexico opposes the Committee Substitute:

"We spent five weeks working in good faith with House leadership of both parties to come to a resolution that would satisfy Governor Martinez’s claimed need to fill a $25 million "hole" in the state's $5.4 billion budget. The product of the negotiations was good for the both the industry and the 10,000 New Mexicans whose jobs depend on film related business. Unfortunately, the compromise was sabotaged at the last minute by Republican members of the House Tax Committee and Democrat Sandra Jeff on Saturday.  The substitute measure eventually passed by the House Tax Committee violates both the spirit and the letter of the agreement reached during our lengthy negotiations," said Eric Witt, MPANM Executive Director. 

... A recent MPANM statewide poll found that 68.9% of New Mexicans support incentives in general but less than 35% support those incentives for the energy industry

My view: If any changes are made to the present film industry tax credit, the annual cap should be moved up to the original $65 million level -- which should be seen as the lowest acceptable cap. Better yet, this proposed change and any others should be delayed, and the House should instead pass Sen. Keller's study legislation, SB 44. It's plain crazy to play around with the film industry program before we know what the facts are. Please let your House member and HTRC members know.

Richardson Weighs In
Over the weekend, an op-ed supportive of the film industry tax rebate by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson appeared in The New York Times. Excerpt:

Unfortunately, a new campaign is under way to curtail or even eliminate these film and TV programs in many states, including my own. Some politicians call the incentives fiscally irresponsible, or giveaways to “liberal” Hollywood. The latter charge is mere propaganda. The former gets traction in states whose programs are not well designed. But when incentives are especially effective — as they are in New Mexico, Louisiana and Michigan — they can bring huge benefits to the state economy.

In New Mexico we scaled our incentives to match our specific tax structure, and we invested in programs at our universities and community colleges to train screenwriters, directors, actors, grips, electricians, makeup artists and other film professionals. As a result, we created more than 10,000 jobs in this industry and in supporting businesses, bringing nearly $4 billion into our economy over eight years. These are huge numbers for a state with a population of only about 2.1 million — especially with the country still recovering from a recession.

March 1, 2011 at 06:16 PM in Action Alerts, Film, Gov. Bill Richardson, Jobs, NM Legislature 2011 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gov. Bill Richardson: Billy the Kid Pardon Decision by Friday; No Additional Pardons or Commutations

Governor Bill Richardson issued a statement today saying he continues to review documents and public input related to a potential pardon for Billy the Kid. (Click to see the petition for the pardon submitted by Albuquerque attorney Randi McGinn.) Gov. Richardson reiterated that he will announce his decision before he leaves office on Friday.

The governor's office received 809 emails and letters commenting on the proposed partial pardon by the December 26 deadline for submittal cited on a special web page about the case. Of those, 430 backed the pardon while 379 were against it. 

E-mails debating the issue came from all over the United States and beyond, including England, Japan, France and New Zealand, said Richardson's deputy chief of staff, Eric Witt.

"This has clearly generated a lot of interest globally," Witt said.

He said responses, pro and con, came from people familiar with the legend of Billy the Kid as well as from people knowledgeable about the territorial era and the Lincoln County War, in which the Kid and Brady were on opposite sides.

No Other Pardons or Commutations on Tap
Other than the possibility of that pardon, Richardson said he will not grant any other pardons or commute any other sentences before leaving office.

“I believe that requests of this nature must be fully vetted and investigated by the appropriate agencies to ensure that I do the right thing for those who request clemency as well as the citizens of New Mexico,” Richardson said. “While I appreciate the urgency from those who have made last-minute requests for pardons, I do not have adequate time to thoroughly review them before leaving office.”

December 29, 2010 at 04:03 PM in Crime, Gov. Bill Richardson, History, Legal Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sen. Tom Udall Announces $780,000+ for Cerrillos Hills State Park

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) announced yesterday that Cerrillos Hills State Park was awarded $782,910.88 from the National Park Service to build needed support facilities such as a visitors center and a maintenance building.

“This funding will allow Cerrillos Hills State Park to offer expanded services to New Mexicans and visitors from across the country who are interested in the many opportunities for year-round hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking that the park has to offer,” Udall said in a written statement. “Building this new visitors center will help the village of Cerillos further highlight the beautiful views of the Sandia, Ortiz, Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges and spur economic growth in the community.”

The visitors center will be located in the village of Cerrillos and will provide an orientation for visitors and a brief history of the area, including an overview of the more than 1,100 years of mining history in the area. You can learn more about the history of the park here.

This past September, Gov. Bill Richardson proposed using a portion of his federal discretionary recovery funding to purchase the Ortiz Mountain Ranch, which is adjacent to the State Park, and use it to develop a wild horse sanctuary as part of the Park. However, earlier this month the governor announced that the purchase would not go forward because it was unfeasible at this time due to continuing budget problems for the state. The money designated for the project was put into the state's general fund instead. 

December 21, 2010 at 11:59 AM in Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson, Land Issues, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gov. Bill Richardson Brokers Deal with North Korea for Return of UN Inspectors and More

Richardsoncr

Today, CNN reported that, "North Korea has agreed with US troubleshooter Bill Richardson to permit the return of UN nuclear inspectors as part of a package of measures to ease tensions on the peninsula."

Also today, Governor Richardson released the following statement about his visit to North Korea and the news that the country will not retaliate for military drills carried out today by South Korea.

"I am very encouraged by the news that North Korea will not react militarily to South Korea's drills,” Governor Richardson said. “During my meetings in Pyongyang, I repeatedly pressed North Korea not to retaliate. The result is that South Korea was able to flex its muscles, and North Korea reacted in a statesmanlike manner. I hope this will signal a new chapter and a round of dialogue to lessen tension on the Korean peninsula."

Governor Richardson said he reached agreement on the following three points during several meetings with top North Korean leaders:

1. Allowing IAEA monitors access to North Korea's uranium enrichment facility.

2. Negotiating a deal for a third party, such as South Korea, to buy fresh-fuel rods from North Korea.

3. Discussing a military commission consisting of representatives from North Korea, South Korea and the United States to monitor and prevent conflicts in the disputed areas of the West Sea. Additionally, creating a hot line between the North Korean and South Korean militaries to avert potential crises.

CNN also reported that Major General Pak Rim-Su, who leads North Korean forces along the tense border with the South, told Richardson that North Korea had recovered the remains of several hundred US servicemen killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War and offered to help secure their return to the United States.

Gov. Richardson was supposed to catch a flight from North Korea to Beijing earlier today (yesterday in North Korea) on his way back to New Mexico, but People's Daily is reporting that the flight was canceled due to heavy fog. CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who traveled with the governor to North Korea, said, "I've never seen such thick fog; and everyone who witnessed it, including our North Korean handlers, said it was the worst fog they'd ever been in." Gov. Richardson got on a later flight (the next day, 12/21 in Korea) and is now in Beijing.

As for the extra night in Pyongyang, Blitzer had this to say:

And here's something you probably never thought you'd hear: What exactly are we doing to kill some time on this extra night in Pyongyang? We're at a karaoke bar singing all the best, latest great hits of the '70s including "Hotel California" and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree". Gov. Bill Richardson didn't sing, instead he was smoking a big fat cigar, enjoying The Eagles.

December 20, 2010 at 06:04 PM in Gov. Bill Richardson, International Relations, Military Affairs, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gov. Bill Richardson Asks for Imput on Billy the Kid Pardon Petition

Billy-the-kid Yesterday, Governor Bill Richardson announced his office has received a formal petition for the pardon of Billy the Kid which he will consider and make a decision on before the end of the year. Governor Richardson is seeking input on the petition and has set up a website and email address where history buffs, experts, other interested parties and the general public can weigh in on its merits (see below).

According to a statement released by the governor's office, the petition centers around the widespread belief that Territorial Governor Lew Wallace promised Billy the Kid a pardon in return for damning testimony The Kid gave during a murder trial. The petition is narrow in scope and does not argue for a blanket pardon of all of Billy the Kid’s activities. The petition can be read by logging onto this page.

“As someone who is fascinated with New Mexico’s rich history, I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Billy the Kid and, in particular, the alleged promise of a pardon he was given by Territorial Governor Lew Wallace,” Governor Richardson said in a written statement. “I will diligently review this new petition and all the facts available regarding an agreement between Billy the Kid and Governor Wallace before rendering any decision.”

Governor Richardson has heard from many people over the years who believe the pardon issue deserves to be revisited. In an effort to clarify the issue, the administration has been reviewing the historical record surrounding these events through various documents, accounts, personal interviews and other materials.

Independently, nationally prominent trial attorney Randi McGinn was designated to review both the history and prior petitions to ascertain whether there was sufficient basis for the matter to be seriously considered. Ms. McGinn, a New Mexico resident and western history enthusiast, agreed to undertake this voluntarily and at no cost to taxpayers. After concluding her review, Ms. McGinn submitted a formal petition on December 14, 2010.

Governor Richardson will be accepting written comments regarding the pardon petition until December 26th. You are asked to limit comments to the contents, events and pleas contained in the petition. Those interested can log onto http://www.governor.state.nm.us/btk.php, email btk.comments@state.nm.us. or mail their comments to:

Office of the Governor
State Capitol
490 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM 87501

ATTN: Eric Witt-BTK

“I look forward to hearing what others have to say about the petition. I also hope that this will spark renewed interest in New Mexico’s history and how the days of Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War helped shape our state,” Governor Richardson added.

December 17, 2010 at 11:36 AM in Crime, Gov. Bill Richardson, History, Justice, Legal Issues | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Governor Bill Richardson Confirms Trip to North Korea as Private Citizen

Images There has been a spate of recent media reports on rumors that Governor Bill Richardson will be traveling to North Korea to meet with the Pyongyang government. Today, Richardson's office issued a statement confirming the trip.

Governor Richardson will travel next week on a private trip to Pyongyang at the invitation of First Vice Minister Kim Gye Gwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator. The governor will be in Pyongyang from December 16-20, and will be accompanied by his senior advisor, Dr. K.A. Namkung. The trip is being privately funded.

“I am increasingly concerned with the recent actions by the North Koreans, which have raised tensions and are contributing to instability on the Korean Peninsula,” Governor Richardson said. “I am traveling as a private citizen with considerable experience in dealing with the North Koreans.

“I am not carrying any messages, but I want to be helpful during this volatile period,” Governor Richardson said. “If I can contribute to the easing of tension on the peninsula, the trip will be well worth it.”

According to a recent Washington Post story, more of this kind of activity may be in the offing when Richardson leaves office in January:

We're hearing Richardson has signed up with the Washington Speakers Bureau, which will probably enable him to put some fine bread on the table. In addition, he's going to set up a center in Santa Fe to focus on ways to rescue people being held hostage by bad guys and on initiating dialogue with rogue regimes.

As noted in an AP report,

Richardson has traveled to North Korea seven times, most recently in 2007 to recover the remains of American servicemen killed in the Korean War. He also has met in New Mexico with North Korean diplomats three times since 2003, when he became governor.

He was U.N. ambassador in the Clinton administration and for years has served as a roving diplomatic troubleshooter, including missions to Sudan, Cuba and Iraq.

December 8, 2010 at 07:39 PM in Gov. Bill Richardson, International Relations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bill Richardson Again Mentioned as Candidate for Chairman of Motion Picture Association of America

Richardsondenvercr This weekend, an article in the New York Times reported that another round of interviews is underway in the search for a new Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, and that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is in the running:

According to a headhunter with knowledge of the search, but who asked for anonymity because the search is private, one candidate is Christopher J. Dodd, the powerful Democratic senator from Connecticut, who is retiring. Bill Richardson, the exiting governor of New Mexico, is also in the mix, this person said.

The paper also said Vickee Jordan Adams, a former executive at the communications firm Hill & Knowlton and daughter of Vernon Jordan, the senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton, was also being considered. However, nobody's commenting on the record:

Spokesmen for Senator Dodd and Governor Richardson did not return calls seeking comment. Efforts to reach Ms. Adams were unsuccessful. A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association declined to comment.

Back in February, Governor Richardson's name was also being mentioned by unnamed sources as a candidate for the job. At the time, Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegoes said, "The governor is not interested in this job and he is not interested in lobbying or returning to Washington."

This past summer, the search committee reportedly came close to hiring Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska Democratic senator and president of the New School. But "negotiations fell apart."

Today, a Politico article followed up on the rumors:

Retiring Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and outgoing New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are both in the running to become chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, one of Washington's A-list lobbying gigs, according to a report in The New York Times.

Hollywood studio executives are considering Dodd and Richardson to act as Hollywood's top lobbyist in the nation's capital, a job that reportedly pays $1.2 million a year

For months, the names of both men have swirled in the trade press as a possible replacement for former Kansas Rep. Dan Glickman, who stepped down in September. In May, the Times even reported that Richardson wasn't interested in the job.

The article also noted that the gig isn't all fun and games:

The job would be a switch for both Dodd and Richardson. As high-profile public officials, the two often don't answer to anyone. But the MPAA chairman reports to the heads of the six leading movie studios: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures. And it's a serious challenge to manage those competing agendas.

"The leader of the MPAA needs to have a fair amount of both sizzle and steak. Having one quality and not the other diminishes your effectiveness," Glickman told the Times.

Before Glickman was named to the post in 2004, former advisor to President Lyndon Johnson, Jack Valenti, held the position for four decades. A lot has changed since then, however, making the job harder to fill. As described in the New York Times article:

For starters, the job has become less fun. The association still holds screenings at its 80-person theater two blocks from the White House. But last year, the studios cut the group’s budget by 20 percent, or about $20 million, making lavish events harder to pull off. Stricter lobbying rules also restrict grandiosity.

And when it comes to influence, Hollywood has also been surpassed by Silicon Valley. Given a choice between meeting George Clooney or Google’s C.E.O., Eric Schmidt, the more coveted invitation for many Washington hands is the latter.

In Mr. Valenti’s era, studios were stand-alone entities whose interests in Washington were in lock step over issues like movie standards. Mr. Valenti fought back state and local efforts to censor content, for example. The association gave Hollywood moguls a government stage but also kept Washington out of the movie business by starting and running the movie rating system, which it continues to do.

But today the association’s six members — Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers — are all embedded deep within global media conglomerates. All employ their own lobbyists and often have competing interests.

Sounds like we'll know pretty soon though:

One thing is clear, Mr. Glickman said: Pressure is building on the industry to make a hire. “In Washington, you can quickly get out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “This is too important of a job not to get filled very soon.”

Photo by M.E. Broderick.

November 28, 2010 at 06:16 PM in Film, Gov. Bill Richardson | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First NM Renewable Energy Transmission Authority Bonds Issued

Governor Bill Richardson and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) Board of Directors announced yesterday that it has issued its first $50 million worth of bonds to upgrade New Mexico’s transmission system and foster clean energy growth.

The upgrade will bring 100 Megawatts of clean renewable wind energy across the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s lines from the High Lonesome Mesa Wind Farm located in Torrance County to the Arizona state line. The project is a collaborative effort with High Lonesome Mesa, LLC, a subsidiary of Edison Mission Energy.

“This project highlights New Mexico’s efforts to be the Clean Energy State by capitalizing on our renewable energy export opportunities,” Governor Richardson said in a written statement.

New Mexico is estimated to have 104 million megawatt hours per year (MWh/yr) of solar energy potential and 56 million MWh/yr of wind, ranking second and twelfth in the U.S. respectively.

“New Mexico’s abundant sunshine and windy plains -- as well as our proximity to fast growing western energy markets places us is in the sweet spot of renewable energy growth,” said Jim Noel, Secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and a RETA Board Member. “RETA is helping to create the system that will carry this clean energy to market.”

The High Lonesome Wind Farm is a 40-turbine facility and has been in operation since July 2009, but has been waiting for upgrades to operate at full capacity. The majority of the work has been completed with the remaining portions expected by the end of the year.

RETA is one of only eight transmission authorities in the country and is only the second to issue bonds. The debt will not be paid by New Mexico citizens; instead it will be paid for by the sale of power to Arizona.

“This first bond issuance is a significant milestone for RETA and represents the first step in fulfilling RETA's promise to harvest New Mexico's wealth of renewable resources for the benefit of all its' citizens," said Robert Busch, Board Chairman of RETA.

RETA was created in 2007 to plan and finance transmission lines to promote the development of renewable energy within New Mexico.

November 20, 2010 at 10:10 AM in Energy, Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson | Permalink | Comments (18)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Governor Bill Richardson Asks USDA to Investigate Planned Transfer of Alamogordo Chimpanzees

Flo
Mentioned in complaint: Flo, eldest chimpanzee at Alamogordo facility

It's wonderful to see Governor Bill Richardson stay focused and active on this issue: Yesterday, Governor Richardson filed a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture asking it to stop and investigate the planned transfer of 186 chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility. The National Institutes of Health plans on moving the chimpanzees to a facility in Texas where they will once again be subject to invasive medical testing. The Alamogordo chimpanzees have not had to undergo testing in nearly a decade.

The 10-page  complaint asks the USDA to investigate if the transfer violates the Animal Welfare Act which prohibits the transportation of ill, injured or physically distressed primates. Many of the Alamogordo chimpanzees suffer from serious chronic conditions related to old age and their history as medical test subjects.

 “This is an urgent matter and I am asking the Department of Agriculture to immediately launch an investigation into the proposed transfer of these chimpanzees,” Governor Bill Richardson said in a written statement. “These chimpanzees have already given so much of their lives to medical research, and they should be allowed to permanently retire free from invasive testing.”

“The chimpanzees in Alamogordo are still reeling from the impact of decades of invasive experiments and forced breeding,” said John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., senior medical and research adviser for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “There is no justification for subjecting them to the hazards of transportation and more testing at this stage of their lives -- they simply don’t have the strength to make it through.”

"It is morally wrong to send these long-suffering creatures back into invasive research," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States said of the chimpanzees at the Alamogordo Primate Facility. "It is time for the federal government to recognize the service of these animals, retire them, and permanently end their days of isolation and suffering."

"New Mexicans are very troubled that the National Institutes of Health would move these research veterans once more into invasive experiments where they will surely experience further suffering,” said Laura Bonar, R.N., program director for Animal Protection of New Mexico. "Many lives have been touched by these chimps, and the move would negatively impact the local economy, affecting many families with unemployment. Further, the National Institutes of Health intends to spend millions of tax dollars building new housing for the chimps, but tax savings could be had in New Mexico while honoring the concerns of tens of thousands of citizens to permanently retire these chimpanzees."

The chimpanzees have been housed at the Alamogordo Primate Facility on Holloman Air Force Base since 2001. According to the agreement with Holloman, no research may be conducted on the primates where they are at the facility. However, NIH’s contract with Charles River Laboratories, which operates the Alamogordo Primate Facility, is set to expire next year and NIH plans to move all the chimpanzees to the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio, TX.

The transfer of the chimpanzees will also result in the loss of nearly 40 jobs at the Alamogordo Primate Facility.

November 19, 2010 at 11:54 AM in Animal Protection, Gov. Bill Richardson | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, November 15, 2010

12/4: NM Wilderness Alliance Rally for Otero Mesa at KiMo Theater

From the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance:
A Rally for Otero Mesa will be held on Saturday, December 4, from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the KiMo Theater located at 423 Central Avenue NW in Albuquerque. RSVP to Nathan Newcomer at nathan@nmwild.org. For more information, visit www.nmwild.org.

On October 25, Governor Richardson sent a letter to the President urging National Monument protection for Otero Mesa. Now is the time to show your support to save this 1.2-million acre grassland in southeast New Mexico. Join us as we rally for protection of Otero Mesa in 2010.

November 15, 2010 at 01:12 PM in Environment, Events, Gov. Bill Richardson, Land Issues, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Governor Richardson Signs Executive Order Protecting Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary

Yesterday, Governor Bill Richardson signed an Executive Order extending greater protection to the sacred Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary. The additional protection promotes greater stewardship of the lake and its natural resources. “The Zuni Salt Lake is a site of great cultural and religious importance to the people of Zuni and many other indigenous peoples throughout New Mexico and Arizona,” said Governor Richardson at the signing ceremony. “My action today will promote a collaborative relationship between state agencies and the Zuni Tribe to safeguard the unique historical and cultural significance of this sacred place.”

For several decades the Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary has been threatened by proposed development that would have a lasting impact on the natural and cultural resources in the area. For this reason, Zuni Governor Norman Cooeyate, tribal officials and traditional leaders have long sought the additional protection that will result from the Executive Order.

“This day will be remembered in Zuni for a long time to come, not just for what is being signed by our friend Governor Bill Richardson today, but for all the battles that have been fought by a collection of individuals, tribal leaders, organizations and friends of our Mother, Zuni Salt Lake, for many years,” Governor Cooeyate said. “This is a culmination of their work, and we are honored to put some finality to their devotion and dedication in protecting the Zuni Salt Lake. I personally thank Governor Richardson for his assistance and kindness in heeding my request to further protect the Zuni Salt Lake with various New Mexico state agencies.”

Developed collaboratively over several months by Zuni leaders and representatives, the Indian Affairs Department, other state agencies and Governor Richardson’s Office, the Executive Order reflects the intent of SB 196, the State-Tribal Collaboration Act of 2009.

“I commend Governor Richardson and Governor Cooeyate for demonstrating today how effective and respectful state-tribal government-to-government relations benefits all New Mexicans,” said Alvin H. Warren, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department. “The Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary is well-deserving of additional protection as a place sacred to tribes throughout the southwest and as a valued part of New Mexico’s heritage.”

In the Executive Order, Governor Richardson directs several state agencies to take specific action to protect the Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary from adverse impacts such as mining and other activities that may affect the lake. These actions include:

  • directing the Office of the State Engineer to designate a team to work with the Zuni Tribe and the United States to ensure the continuing survival and integrity of the Zuni Salt Lake in perpetuity;
  • requiring the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to consult with the Zuni Tribe to ensure that the Department’s regulations and permitting processes protect the water, cultural, and other resources of the area surrounding the Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary;
  • directing the New Mexico Environment Department to take any steps available under law to ensure the area surrounding the Salt Lake and Sanctuary is protected from adverse impacts from mining or other activities that threaten the environment and
  • instructing the Department of Cultural Affairs’ State Historic Preservation Division to assist the Tribe in its efforts to have the Salt Lake and Sanctuary added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a World Heritage Site.

Click to read the full text of the Executive Order.

November 11, 2010 at 12:56 PM in Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson, Native Americans | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Governor Bill Richardson Urges President Obama to Designate Otero Mesa a National Monument

Governor Bill Richardson is urging President Obama to designate Otero Mesa in Southern New Mexico a National Monument (see letter). Otero Mesa is the largest expanse of Chihuahuan Desert Grassland on public lands in the U.S.

“As governor I have fought hard to protect Otero Mesa, but if we are going to ensure the protection of this national treasure for future generations we need a permanent federal designation,” Governor Richardson said.

Otero Mesa is 1.2 million acres and home to over 1,000 native plant and animal species, including pronghorn antelope, black-tailed prairie dogs, desert mule deer, mountain lions, golden and bald eagles, and 250 species of migratory songbirds. The Salt Basin Aquifer below it is believed to be one of the state’s largest remaining untapped fresh drinking water resources. The critical habitat was nearly sacrificed to energy exploration before the Richardson Administration along with a strong coalition of environmentalists, ranchers and hunters stepped in to halt the drilling.

No doubt, time is of the essence now that Governor Richardson will be leaving office and right-wing Republican Susana Martinez has been elected governor in a campaign that received large donations from oil and gas interests, as well as from Claytie Williams, who is currently involved in a heavily criticized water scheme. 

November 5, 2010 at 11:20 AM in Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson, Obama Administration, Susana Martinez, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (3)