Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Wind Tax Credits Set to Expire: Congress Must Reinvest in New Mexicans' Green Future
Wind Energy in New Mexico Prevents as Much Global Warming Pollution as Taking 232,000 Cars Off the Road Each Year
Video above is Rikki Seguin of Environment NM presenting the report of the benefits of NM Wind Tax Credits in very simple powerful terms.
On November 28, last Wednesday, DFNM attended a press conference held by Environment New Mexico at Alvarado Urban Farm, the Gardens on the North side of the sustainably designed Silver Gardens Apartments located at 100 Silver Ave. SW Albuquerque, NM 87102.
As this summer’s extreme drought and its aftermath prompt more New Mexicans to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment New Mexico released a new Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report that shows that New Mexico’s current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 232,000 cars off the road per year. Additionally, the Environment New Mexico report shows that wind power saves enough water to meet the needs of 11,600 New Mexicans.
Environment New Mexico was joined by Commissioner Jason Marks, Public Resources Commission (PRC) District 1, and Albuquerque-based pulmonologist Dr. Dona Upson in releasing the Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, and touting wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. The speakers urged Congress to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—before they expire at the end of the year.
“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for New Mexicans,” said Rikki Seguin of Environment New Mexico. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”
If wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016, New Mexico would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 154,000 cars off the road and would save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 7,700 New Mexicans.
New Mexico has at least 13,000 megawatts of commercially-viable wind power waiting to be developed that could be providing clean electricity to homes and businesses across the Western U.S. without harmful emissions and without consuming our precious water supplies,” said Commissioner Marks. “A multi-year renewal of the PTC is a key component for realizing this potential.”
The report also outlined that today’s wind energy in New Mexico is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 1,830 tons of smog-causing pollution and 340 tons of soot pollution.
“We need to increase the environmental and health benefits of wind energy by increasing wind power in our state,” said Dr. Upson. “With so many New Mexicans suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and because of the disproportionate impact of air pollution on children's lungs, the clean air benefits of wind power can help improve and save lives.”
New Mexico’s successful development of wind energy results largely from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards -- requiring utilities to provide 20% of their power from renewable energy by 2020 and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).
Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for New Mexican’s on the table.
Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.
Rikki Seguin summary stated above and below. Fight on Udall and Bingaman.
“As our state is still healing from severe drought, we must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Seguin of Environment New Mexico. “Time is running out. We thank Senators Udall and Bingaman for supporting clean, renewable wind power and urge them to do everything they can to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year. Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”
Environment New Mexico is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future. Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces by investigating problems, crafting solutions, educating the public and decision-makers, and helping the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
11/28: New Mexico Will Benefit from Increased Wind Power
Wind tax credits set to expire: Congress must reinvest in New Mexicans' green future.
From Environment New Mexico.org - Environment New Mexico is a statewide, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open spaces.
What: In the wake of this summer’s severe drought, and as the fiscal cliff and the expiration of key tax credits for wind power are quickly approaching, public health professionals and PRC Commissioners will join Environment New Mexico to release a new report that quantifies the public health and environmental benefits of wind power for New Mexico, including global warming pollution avoided and water saved. The report also estimates these benefits through 2016 if wind development continues at a pace comparable to that in recent years.
Who: Jason Marks, Public Regulation Commission (PRC) District 1 Commissioner Dr. Dona Upson, Pulmonologist Rikki Seguin, Environment New Mexico
When: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 10am
Where: Alvarado Urban Farm: Gardens on the North side of Silver Gardens Apartments 100 Silver Ave. SW Albuquerque, NM 87102
From I-25: Take exit 224A for Lead Ave toward Coal Ave. Turn right on Lead Ave, then right on 2 nd St, and the first right on Silver Ave. Street Parking available, as well as Silver Gardens Parking Garage on Lead Ave and 1 st St. SW.
Excellent Visuals of Wind Turbines and Plants Affected by Drought
Monday, November 26, 2012
Support Solar Energy Targets for New Mexico
From the NM Green Chamber of Commerce:
Action item: Click here to sign the letter to Vice Chair Commissioner Becenti-Aguilar, the swing vote on this issue, and you will receive notification of the mid-December PRC meeting to review the case.
The Reasonable Cost Threshold/Solar Diversity Target case (Case 11-00218-UT) before the Public Regulation Commission will have a dramatic impact on solar energy development. Cutting the solar target in half or completely, as some interveners are proposing, will mean job losses and worker lay-offs, and a return to more use of polluting fossil fuels.
This case has taken 17 months and now the Attorney General and the New Mexico Industrial Energy Consumers are proposing to push the decision into next year, and a new Public Regulation Commission.
The current uncertainty and indecision by the Public Regulation Commission makes it impossible for renewable energy companies to make future business plans.
Solar remains wildly popular in our state, with a 2012 bi-partisan poll demonstrating an overwhelming majority of New Mexicans (66 percent) that want more of their energy to come from solar.
Please take the following steps:
- Click here to sign the letter to Vice Chair Commissioner Becenti-Aguilar, the swing vote on this issue, and you will receive notification of the mid-December PRC meeting to review the case.
- Call your Public Regulation Commissioner: Urge them to vote on the RCT rulemaking process before the end of this term. Urge them to support jobs in every part of the state, by supporting a diverse renewable energy portfolio with an aggressive solar target that continues to help build that industry. Urge them to maintain the current solar targets and continue to help provide both clean energy for consumers and jobs for electricians, technicians, and construction workers.
Jason A. Marks
Commissioner - District 1
Patrick H. Lyons Commissioner - District 2 [email protected]
Douglas J. Howe Commissioner - District 3 [email protected]
Theresa Becenti-Aguilar Vice Chair Commissioner - District 4 [email protected]
Ben L. Hall Commissioner - District 5 [email protected]
Mr. Nick Guillen NMPRC Records Management Bureau [email protected]
Or, you can call them at 1-888-427-5772. Please be sure to mention Case No. 11-00218-UT.
Thank you for your interest in this.
Special Thanks to Kate Theisen at Sunspot Solar for providing the information.
New Mexico’s Wealthiest Has Almost Ten Times More Income than Poorest
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released the following report: Pulling Apart: A State-by-State Analysis of Income Trends the week before our week of major consumption. Who wants to read such dismal facts the week before eating and spending abundance?
New Mexico has Highest Income Inequality between Richest and Poorest
From the CBPP report: Why the growth in wage inequality? The biggest factors:
- "Wages at the bottom and middle of the wage scale have been stagnant or have grown only modestly for much of the last three decades. The wages of the very highest-paid employees, in contrast, have grown significantly."
- "The erosion weakness of wage growth for workers at the bottom and middle of the income scale reflects a variety of factors. Over the last 30 years, the nation has seen increasingly long periods of high unemployment, more intense competition from foreign firms, a shift in the mix of jobs from manufacturing to services, and advances in technology that have changed jobs. The share of workers in unions also fell significantly. At the same time, the share of the workforce made up of households headed by women — which tend to have lower incomes — has increased. Government policies such as the failure to maintain the real value of the minimum wage and to adequately fund supports for low-wage workers as well as changes to the tax code that favored the wealthy have also contributed to growing wage inequality."
- "Government actions — and, in some cases, inaction — have contributed to the increase in wage and income inequality in most states. Examples include deregulation and trade liberalization, the weakening of the safety net, the lack of effective laws concerning the right to collective bargaining, and the declining real value of the minimum wage. In addition, changes in federal, state, and local tax structures and benefit programs have, in many cases, accelerated the trend toward growing inequality emerging from the labor market."
States Must Play an Important Role
More from the report: "Growing income inequality not only raises basic issues of fairness, but also adversely affects the nation’s economy and political system. While it results to a significant degree from economic forces that are largely outside state policymakers’ control, state policies can mitigate the effects of these outside forces. State options include:
- Raise, and index, the minimum wage. The purchasing power of the federal minimum wage is 13 percent lower than at the end of the 1970s. Its value falls well short of the amount necessary to meet a family’s needs, especially in states with a high cost of living. States can help raise wages for workers at the bottom of the pay scale by enacting a higher state minimum wage and indexing it to ensure continued growth in the future. (DFNM note: From the hard work of our Local Ole and other organizations we accomplished this bullet point in Abq.)
- Improve the unemployment insurance system. Unemployment insurance helps prevents workers who lose their jobs from falling into poverty and keeps them connected to the labor market. Yet some states have cut benefits deeply. These states should restore those cuts and others should build on recent efforts to fix outmoded rules that bar many workers from accessing benefits.
- Make state tax systems more progressive. The federal income tax system is progressive — that is, it narrows income inequalities — but has become less so over the past two decades as a result of changes such as the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Nearly all state tax systems, in contrast, are regressive. This is because states rely more on sales taxes and user fees, which hit low-income households especially hard, than on progressive income taxes. (The income inequality data in this report reflect the effects of federal taxes but not state taxes.)
As state revenues slowly recover from the recent recession, some states are cutting taxes. The bulk of the tax cuts enacted this year, however, disproportionately benefited higher-income families. If these trends continue, states will make their tax systems even more regressive and diminish their ability to restore the large spending cuts of the last few years.
- Strengthen the safety net. States play a major role in delivering social safety net assistance, which pushes back against growing inequality by helping low-wage workers move up the income ladder and shielding the nation’s most vulnerable citizens from the long-term effects of poverty.
There are a host of options states can consider to strengthen their safety nets. States can create a more streamlined process for enrolling in work supports such as food stamps and child care as they retool their health insurance systems under the Affordable Care Act. States also can boost the prospects of poor children by increasing temporary cash assistance to the neediest families in state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs. Improving access to SNAP (food stamps) and providing assistance with rent can help low-income families afford food and housing.
In addition, states can improve the child care system by providing child care subsidies with affordable co-payments and by investing in quality early care and education programs as well as after-school programs.
- Protect workers’ rights. States can raise wages by protecting workers right to bargain collectively and by strengthening and enforcing laws and regulations to prevent abusive employer practices that deprive workers of wages that they are legally owed.
While these are all useful steps, federal as well as state policies will have to play an important role if low- and middle-income households are to stop receiving steadily smaller shares of the income pie."
Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps
First we need bootstraps. The small government naysayers are now saying "see all the poor want are govt handouts." No, what the poor want is an attempt at a slice of the pie.
In the great depression dignity was something FDR realized existed and he went about providing jobs with govt monies so as the workers could work again and provide for themselves and their families. People want to work, people have great pride in their work. Raising taxes on those that have become filthy rich over the past decades should be first on any elected officials mind. Period. Raise the taxes and create new jobs building great things, high speed railroads, solar farms, wind farms, senior care centers, state of the art schools. We have the money we need the political will.
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Democracy for America Endorses Mary Ellen Broderick for New Mexico House District 30
Burlington, VT – Today Democracy for America (DFA) endorsed Mary Ellen Broderick for New Mexico House District 30.
"Mary Ellen is a lifelong activist with a spirit for change,” Jim Dean, Chair of DFA, explained to NM voters while canvassing with Mary Ellen this weekend. “She not only believes that things will improve in New Mexico, but she will fight for what’s right, what’s fair, and be a strong advocate for her community. Real, progressive change happens at the local level. It manifests itself more quickly because ordinary people see what matters to their community and what will help make things better. That’s why we’re urging folks in New Mexico’s 30th District to support Mary Ellen.”
Mary Ellen Broderick has been a leading progressive activist in New Mexico since she co-founded the Democracy for New Mexico blog and meet-up group in 2004. Broderick believes that healthcare is a fundamental right – not a privilege for just those that can afford it – and she will see that healthcare reform is fully implemented in the state because it not only provides desperately needed services, but also provides thousands of new health-related jobs. Mary Ellen will also embrace New Mexico’s unique leadership towards a green-energy economy by investing in new sustainable sources of clean energy and putting her foot down to hold polluters accountable.
“I am extremely grateful for the DFA endorsement. Democracy for America believes in people powered progress, not corporate funded campaigns,” said Mary Ellen Broderick. “This is exactly what my campaign for NM House District 30 is about – people power. We’re grassroots at every level. I never thought I would be running for State Office, but the time has come for average everyday citizens to take back our government.”
Mary Ellen is running against first-term Republican Nate Gentry. Since taking office, Gentry has inexcusably missed 94 votes, making him among the most absent members of the New Mexico Roundhouse.
ABOUT DEMOCRACY FOR AMERICA: Democracy for America is the people-powered Democratic Political Action Committee. With over one million members nationwide, DFA is a grassroots powerhouse working to change our country and the Democratic Party from the bottom-up.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Clean Energy Victory Bonds: We have a bill!
From Green America:
We have a bill!
On August 2, our Clean Energy Victory Bond bill was introduced in Congress. And as of today, the Library of Congress has published the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2012, the culmination of several years of hard work here at Green America, and the support of clean-energy advocates like you all across the country.
Just like World War II era victory bonds enabled ordinary Americans to raise billions of dollars for the war effort, these new bonds are projected to raise enough money to generate 1.7 million new jobs manufacturing, deploying, and maintaining renewable energy projects. This bill ends the financial uncertainty around current federal programs, extending the imperiled Production Tax Credit for wind energy -- and other renewable energy incentives -- for as long as a decade.
Big thanks to Rep. Bob Filner (D, CA), who is sponsoring the bill, along with 10 co-sponsors, and big thanks to more than 40 other organizations* who are backing the bill with us. Now we need to get this bill passed. Here's where your support is crucial. This is what we need you to do:
1. Call your representative -- Look up your representative's telephone number here, give their office a call, and tell them that you enthusiastically support H.R. 6275, the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2012. If you would be willing to to buy some of these savings bonds (as little as $25 is enough), tell them that too. We need to rapidly bolster bi-partisan support for this job-creating, renewable-energy-boosting bill.
2. Pledge to buy the bonds -- If you haven't already signed on at cleanenergyvictorybonds.org as a future purchaser of the bonds after the legislation passes, please do so right now. We need to be able to show clearly that these bonds have the support of the American people in every congressional district in the country. It's a win-win-win. You support clean energy and American jobs, you put some of your money away in a savings bond, and when they mature in 10 years, you’ll get back the purchase price plus interest.
3. Tell your friends -- This part is key! We need to rapidly spread awareness of this bill. Everyone who hears about this strategy loves it, because the bonds advance goals that both Republicans and Democrats can get behind. If you have ever thought about forwarding an e-mail from Green America to your entire address book, this is the email to forward. Tell your friends to sign on at cleanenergyvictorybonds.org, and post a link to the site on your Facebook page. Tweet about it, blog about, tell your neighbor over the fence. However you communicate with others, please share the news of this bill.
This might just be the most exciting project Green America has ever worked on. Thank you so much for being a part of it. Here's to a clean-energy victory,
Monday, June 11, 2012
More Netroots Nation 2012 Keynote Speech by Van Jones
On Saturday night, the last night of NN12, we had several great speeches. The keynote was from Van Jones, the author and founder of the "Rebuild the Dream" project, and the author of the book The Green Collar Economy.
Van Jones was appointed by President Obama to a new position in the white house wikipedia says: In March 2009 Jones was appointed by Obama to the newly created position of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where he worked with various "agencies and departments to advance the administration's climate and energy initiatives, with a special focus on improving vulnerable communities."
Now doesn't that sound frightening and horrible? The republicans went after Van Jones like rabid dogs. In September 2009 he had to step down from the position. Think of where we would be in advancing Green Jobs if the republicans did not systematically go after this man who would have been so helpful and so needed for our country.
Listening to his speech at Netroots was very inspirational. In this shorter 6 minute portion of Van Jones speech below, he describes how we know exactly what we will be getting if the republicans gain control of the whitehouse and the senate and keep control of the congress. They come right out and say they will dismantle the EPA, and the Department of Education and more. They will take a wrecking ball to everything our fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers have fought so hard for. Listen to this short video.
Then if you have tome I would highly recommend listening to this 20 minute video of Van Jones speech. It is funny and direct and I found it inspirational for what we all have ahead of us.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Al Park Receives Ten More Endorsements for Public Regulation Commissioner
Al Park’s Campaign for Public Regulation Commissioner is proud to announce that it has been endorsed by 8 more community leaders as well as two more unions. Al’s campaign for the PRC continues to receive strong support from local leaders due to his outstanding record of results as a legislator and vision for the PRC’s future. The endorsements include:
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers New Mexico Building Trades
- Morris “Mo” Chavez, Former Superintendent of Insurance
- Marty Esquivel, Albuquerque School Board Member
- Don E. Leonard, Sandoval County Commissioner J
- im Noel, Former Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources
- Stuart Paisano, Former Governor of Sandia Pueblo
- Ben Rodefer, Former State Representative
- John Sapien, State Senator
- Kiki Saavedra, State Representative, Chair of House Appropriations Committee
Albuquerque School Board Member Marty Esquivel commented, “Based on Al’s record of supporting ethics and transparency reform as a member of the State House I know that he is serious when he talks about reforming the PRC.” Park helped pass the Whistleblower Protection Act, Gift Act, and fought for an independent ethics commission while in the State House.
Former New Mexico Secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, Jim Noel cited Park’s advocacy for renewable energy programs within the state as the reason for his endorsement. “His vision regarding developing New Mexico’s renewable energy sector is something our economy desperately needs.” Secretary Noel continued, “And his experience on the House Energy Committee will be invaluable to the PRC as it makes sure our utilities are making progress toward their requirement that 20% of their energy comes from renewable sources by 2020”
“I am honored to receive these endorsements,” said Park. “It goes to show that my commitment to creating a green energy economy and bringing ethics reform to the PRC has really resonated with people,” Park continued. With today’s endorsements 25 local leaders and organizations have endorsed Al Park’s campaign for Public Regulation Commissioner. For a full list of endorsements please visit http://www.alparkfornewmexico.com/p/endorsements.html
Congressman Luján Applauds Decision to Locate Tres Amigas Headquarters in New Mexico
Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District applauded the recent decision by Tres Amigas, LLC to locate its headquarters in New Mexico. Tres Amigas was considering locations in New Mexico and Texas.
“The decision by Tres Amigas to call New Mexico home is welcome news for our state and will mean an influx of new jobs in communities across New Mexico,” Congressman Luján said. “New Mexico is home to a number of innovative efforts to promote renewable energy and America’s energy independence, and I welcome the Tres Amigas headquarters and this cutting-edge project to promote clean energy generation and more efficient transmission.”
Luján has long been a supporter of the Tres Amigas project that will use the latest advances in power grid technology to provide the first common interconnection of America’s three power grids. The project will help the country meet renewable energy goals and facilitate the smooth, reliable, and efficient transfer of green power from region to region. Luján has encouraged the development of new cutting edge energy projects, such as Tres Amigas, as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee’s Water and Power Subcommittee and House Science and Technology Committee. He has also supported a number of budgetary efforts to fully fund transmission planning programs at the federal level.
Tres Amigas’ headquarters will include the executive offices, a control room with state-of-the-art technology that will remotely control the Clovis-based SuperStation; and it will host a trading floor for electricity. The location of the headquarters within New Mexico has yet to be announced.
Monday, April 09, 2012
PNM Ratepayers Deliver More than 3,000 Petitions Demanding that Utility Invest Huge Profits in Clean Energy
On Tuesday, April 10, members of Sierra Club, SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment (Dine CARE), CREDO Action, and 350.org will deliver more than 3,000 petition signatures to Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM) CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn at PNM’s headquarters in Albuquerque, demanding that the utility use their huge profits to invest in clean energy instead of relying on old, dirty coal-fired power plants. The petition signatures were collected online in response to a recent report from the organizations called “Perspective on PNM,” which exposed the utility's massive corporate profits and extravagant executive compensation, as well as PNM’s meager investment in clean energy and efficiency programs.
The “Perspective on PNM” report found that since 2008, PNM's electricity rates have increased by 41 percent, adding $250 per year to the average residential ratepayer's bill in the midst of the recession. The report also revealed that the company has directed 79% of its recent rate increases to corporate profits, and less than 6% to efficiency and renewable energy. In addition, PNM lags behind other New Mexico utilities in meeting state laws for renewable energy investments and efficiency programs that create jobs, cut pollution, and save people and small businesses money.
VISUALS: New Mexicans with colorful signs, pies with 6% slices cut out, to represent PNM’s paltry investment in clean energy.
WHAT: Rally and Petition Delivery to PNM
WHO: Sierra Club, SouthWest Organizing Project, Dine CARE, Project 350NM, and CREDO Action
- Juan Reynosa, SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP)
- Donna House, Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment (Dine CARE)
- Shrayas Jatkar, Sierra Club
- Deirdre Smith, Project 350NM
WHEN: Tuesday, April 10, at Noon (12pm)
WHERE: 414 Silver Avenue, SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102 (Map)
Sunday, April 01, 2012
Governor Martinez Establishes New Task Force
Breaking news! Following the New Mexico State Engineer’s decision on March 30, 2012 [OSE File No. RG-89943] dismissing the San Augustin Ranch, LLC water rights application, Governor Susanna Martinez announced the creation of a new task force -- the Building Resilient Communities Task Force.
The stated goals of the task force are to examine the impacts of climate change on New Mexico communities (both urban and rural) and make recommendations by October 1 for building stronger, more resilient communities to be better prepared to adapt and respond to the serious impacts predicted by the scientific community. Governor Martinez will review these recommendations to determine what her administration can implement immediately and what might be appropriate legislation for the Legislature to take up in 2013.
“The Building Resilient Communities Task Force will pick up where Our Communities, Our Task Force left off in 2007,” Governor Martinez said. “We must not drop the ball. Under my predecessor’s leadership, New Mexico began to ask the tough questions. It is more important than ever to search for the answers today with the impacts of climate change, the economic meltdown, and other challenges confronting New Mexico.”
Lora Lucero, an Albuquerque land use attorney, city planner, writer, and climate activist, has accepted the role of leading the Building Resilient Communities Task Force which will be comprised of members from the previous task force. “I’m grateful for this opportunity,” Lucero responded. “Climate change is a non-partisan issue which impacts us all, and our children’s children, without regard to political affiliation. I look forward to working with everyone on the Task Force over the next six months and including the public in this very important work.”
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Guest blog: Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference Brings Together Labor and the Environment
This is a guest blog by Marianne Dickinson of Albuquerque, who is a former journalist, a lifelong community organizer and currently runs her own design/ planning/ marketing business. She has observed New Mexico politics for 30 years and still believes we could have ethical, capable, accountable government some day. See her other positions and posts on her opinion of the greening of Abq. NM here.
Two weeks ago, activists and organizers met in downtown Los Angeles for the 5th annual Good Jobs Green Jobs Conference, one of four held around the country this year in order to highlight local and regional accomplishments in greening the economy. In a time when the “Jobs VS the Environment” red herring is being hauled out to portray the Keystone XL pipeline battle, it was inspiring to see teamsters, steel workers and the Sierra Club on the same stage and at the same rally calling for the fair treatment of truckers and recycling workers. I attended as part of a Sierra Club NM delegation, the national organization being one of the many sponsors under the umbrella of the BlueGreen Alliance. (See www.bluegreenalliance.org)
While we heard a lot of good news about how far LA and San Francisco have come in meeting their state’s Zero Waste and clean air goals and mandates, the “real world” issues of unsafe, dirty, difficult and degrading conditions endured by workers in many sectors we want “to green” engendered the most passion in attendees. A few hundred of us were bussed to a rally at a privately-owned reclamation center where workers told the crowd how they: had to eat in a roach- and rat-infested lunchroom; had no hand-cleaning facilities, no training, and no safety equipment; sorted recyclables from trash containing dead animals and used syringes; how the collection trucks leaked a nasty brew of mystery fluids on neighborhood streets; and how workers were fired in retaliation for complaining or attempting to unionize. Their own signs said, “Somos humanos, no basura.” (We are humans, not garbage.)
The plight of the recycling workers was the most outrageous, but it wasn’t the only situation we had to consider when making policies without listening to workers and solving problems those policies could present. For instance, will janitorial workers be compensated for the extra work required to sort recyclables or use green cleaning products? Shouldn’t unfair labor practices (like designating regular workers “contract labor” to avoid employer responsibilities) be addressed at the same time?
The rally speakers made me wonder what Albuquerque’s recycling workers’ situation is presently, and what it will be when the private contractor takes over. When I visited the City’s sorting facility many years ago, the sorters were low-wage transient workers (homeless perhaps?) They didn’t have to sort through mixed waste however, just what had been collected as recyclables. (Something progressives may want to look into….)
While the workshops barely touched on some green economy sectors---agriculture, green home building and financing, safer chemicals---there was discussion of a much wider array of green economic opportunities than the mainstream media usually covers. The green economy doesn’t have to mean just solar panels and recycling; we could green a lot more of our local economy when labor, appropriate technology, and environmental advocates all work together!
This is a guest blog by Marianne Dickinson. If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.