Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bingaman, Udall Seek Answers on REAL ID

From Senator Udall:

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall today asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide New Mexicans with immediate assurances that their travel plans early in the new year will not be disrupted by a federal law governing drivers' licenses.

While the senators support strengthening the standards governing IDs, they are concerned that as many as 38 states - including New Mexico - will not be able to meet the January 15, 2013 deadline to comply with the law. DHS has previously told the senators that New Mexico drivers' license holders will still be able to travel domestically and enter federal buildings using the state licenses but has not made a public announcement of its plans regarding REAL ID implementation.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the senators said enforcing the January 15 deadline could cause a significant disruption in air travel. In their letter, the senators urged DHS to quickly clarify its plans regarding the implementation of the REAL ID Act:

"The lack of guidance by the Department of Homeland Security is causing a great deal of anxiety for our constituents, who are seeing news reports that they may need a passport in order to fly on domestic flights after January 15. We have been expecting an announcement that your Department will extend the deadline or delay enforcement of the Act, but to date there has been no statement either way. Such delays mean that many people may alter or cancel their travel plans or bear the expense of obtaining a passport they do not need," Bingaman and Udall wrote.

In 2005, Congress passed legislation -- called the REAL ID Act -- requiring states to tighten requirements related the issuance of drivers' licenses because they are used as a standard form of identification for a variety of federal purposes, including air travel. In 2009, DHS extended the REAL ID Act compliance deadline until January 15, 2013.

"If the Department intends to extend the deadline, please make such an announcement immediately. If the Department does not intend to provide such an extension, please issue a public statement as soon as possible to reassure the traveling public that you will work to mitigate the adverse impact of REAL ID," Bingaman and Udall wrote.

The full text of the letter is available here.

December 20, 2012 at 09:15 AM in Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

IMAG0411

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.”

IMAG0418
Wind Turbine mounted on roof of Silver Garden Apts.

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.

December 5, 2012 at 07:45 AM in Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Good News and Bad News for the National Defense Authorization Act 2013

Senator Tom Udall and Senator Jeff Bingaman released the following press statement "Udall, Bingaman Offer Amendments to Defense Authorization Act" highlighting amendments they introduced and passed to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2013.

These are very positive amendments for the state of New Mexico. Below are quotes from Udall and Bingaman.

"With these amendments, we are ensuring New Mexico is a leader in the 21st century clean energy economy, and at the forefront of the national security achievements being made at our national labs and within the defense community," Udall said. "Our biofuels amendment is especially important to national security and businesses in our state so I'm glad we were able to get one over the finish line today."

"The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the most important bills for New Mexico because it helps fund our national labs and our military installations. I am especially glad that the Senate adopted our amendment to allow the Pentagon to invest in all types of fuels - including biofuels -- for its fleets. The Defense Department is a major consumer of fuel, and the more homegrown, cleaner-burning fuel it purchases the better off we will be," said Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

However, there remains troubling language within NDAA 2013 regarding laws of Detention. The HuffPost has a good write up of this: Senators Make Bid To End Indefinite Detention In NDAA. An excerpt:

A bipartisan group of senators made a bid Wednesday to end the indefinite military detention of Americans in the United States.

Declaring that a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 put the country on a path to repeat the shame of World War II's internment camps, they argued the offending language should be stricken in this year's defense bill.

The authority to detain anyone on suspicions that they backed Al Qaeda was codified in law for the first time in the NDAA last winter, although the two most recent White House administrations have asserted since 2001 that the military has always had that authority, stemming from Congress' Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed after the 9/11 attacks.

Senator Rand Paul had this to say about the indefinite detention, "If we give up our rights, have not the terrorists won?" Paul said. "If we relinquish our rights because of fear, what is it exactly that we are fighting for?"

One last thing in this monster bill. The cost of this war machine bill does not seem to be in any dialog at all. Click on this link and go to page 597 to see the tables of what we are paying for within this bill. Make sure you are sitting down. One because it is 70 pages long and the other because it is billions and billions of dollars. Our tax dollars, line after line, page after page. Descriptions of who knows what. Who goes through these items? An example below, the numbers are in thousands of dollars.

MATERIAL HANDLING EQUIPMENT

172 ROUGH TERRAIN CONTAINER HANDLER (RTCH) ....... 0 0

173 FAMILY OF FORKLIFTS ................5,895

174 ALL TERRAIN LIFTING ARMY SYSTEM ......... 0 0

TRAINING EQUIPMENT

175 COMBAT TRAINING CENTERS SUPPORT ....... 104,649

176 TRAINING DEVICES, NONSYSTEM .................. 125,251

177 CLOSE COMBAT TACTICAL TRAINER ............ 19,984

178 AVIATION COMBINED ARMS TACTICAL TRAINER ........ 10,977

179 GAMING TECHNOLOGY IN SUPPORT OF ARMY TRAINING ... 4,056

What are these things and why do we need them? Why are'nt we as a nation screaming about this list of killing devices or training of killers. Meanwhile we judge the person on foodstamps? Or punish the people on unemployment. One word comes to mind, unsustainable.  

November 29, 2012 at 04:55 PM in Military Affairs, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, July 06, 2012

07/06: New Mexicans to Deliver Thank You Cards to Senators for Protecting Public Health

On Friday, July 6, scores of New Mexicans will deliver giant “thank you cards” to Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall for protecting public health by voting against Senator James Inhofe’s dangerous legislation that sought to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently-finalized Mercury & Air Toxics Standard for power plants. The Senate rejected the measure on June 20, which attempted to bar implementation of the new safeguard as well as preclude the EPA from ever issuing similar standards to protect people from toxic mercury in the future.

The Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington ranks among the worst coal-fired power plants in the nation for high levels of mercury emissions. According to the EPA, the Mercury & Air Toxics Standard will prevent up to 24 premature deaths while creating up to $200 million in health benefits in 2016.

WHO: Scores of New Mexicans and several local, community/public interest organizations
WHAT: Delivery of giant “thank you cards” to Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall signed by New Mexicans from all walks of life including physicians, elected officials, and faith leaders
WHEN: Friday, July 6, 2012 from 1pm-2pm
WHERE: Offices of Senator Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall in downtown Albuquerque
· 1pm, Senator Bingaman, 625 Silver Avenue, SW, 87102 (north side of Silver Ave, between 6th & 7th streets)
· 1:30pm, Senator Udall, 219 Central Avenue, NW, 87102 (north side of Central Ave, between 2nd & 3rd streets)
VISUALS: Giant “thank you cards”, Colorful and handmade signs, and Lots of people

July 6, 2012 at 06:28 AM in Environment, Events, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senators Bingaman and Udall Stand Up for Public Health, Vote Against Toxic Legislation

The following is from the Sierra Club; Shrayas Jatkar, Organizing Representative

New Mexico Groups Thankful that Senate Decided to Affirm EPA Mercury and Air Toxics Standard

Today, June 20, 2012, Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall stood up for the health of New Mexico’ children, seniors, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations by voting against Senator James Inhofe’s dangerous legislation that sought to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recently-finalized Mercury & Air Toxics Standard for power plants. Thanks in part to Senators Bingaman and Udall, the Senate rejected the measure. Had it passed, Senator Inhofe’s legislation would not only bar the implementation of these new safeguards, but would also prevent the EPA from ever issuing similar standards to protect New Mexico families and communities from toxic mercury in the future.

Mercury is a potent brain poison that threatens prenatal babies and young children, and is linked to severe learning disabilities, developmental problems, and lower IQ. Today’s vote on Senator James Inhofe’s CRA resolution, which was introduced two months ago, means that New Mexico children, seniors, families, and communities – particularly on the Navajo Nation – will continue to be protected from the harmful amounts of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxics that pour out of dirty power plants. The Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington ranks among the worst coal-fired power plants in the nation for high levels of mercury emissions.

“By defeating this cynical measure, Senator Inhofe and his supporters failed to kill the EPA mercury and air toxic standard, which means thousands of Americans, particularly children, will thankfully continue to be protected under the standard,” said Dr. Robert M. Bernstein, an endocrinologist practicing in Santa Fe and President of the Physicians for Social Responsibility-New Mexico.

According to the EPA, the mercury and air toxics standard will save as many as 11,000 lives, prevent as many as 130,000 asthma attacks among children, and prevent as many as 4,700 heart attacks each year. In New Mexico, the new standard will prevent up to 24 premature deaths while creating up to $200 million in health benefits in 2016.

“I believe today’s Senate vote is a big victory for New Mexicans, and puts the health and welfare of our children and our communities ahead of polluter profits,” said Shrayas Jatkar with the Sierra Club in Albuquerque. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall should be commended for putting our children’s health first.”

Additionally, these protections make economic sense – for every dollar spent cleaning up dirty power plants, Americans are estimated to receive between $3 and $9 in health benefits in return. In total, that means as much as $90 billion in savings on health care costs each year.

“America should be at the forefront of public health and environmental protections, not subjected to polluters and their allies in Congress attempting to overturn landmark toxic safeguards,” said Sanders Moore with Environment New Mexico. “Thankfully, Senators Bingaman and Udall and the majority of the U.S. Senate stood with the American people and voted in favor of clean air and healthy families.”

June 20, 2012 at 06:47 PM in Environment, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senator Bingaman Honored for Conservation Leadership

IMG_1174Conservation Lands Foundation Bestows Highest Honor on U.S. Senator

DC (June 18, 2012) - U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) received the Stewart Udall Award from the Conservation Lands Foundation for his leadership on public lands issues, particularly for his role in spearheading the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. This bill protected over 2 million acres of public land and made permanent the National Conservation Lands, the Bureau of Land Management’s system of protected public lands.

"Throughout his career, Senator Bingaman’s persistence and dedication have played an important role in protecting our natural and cultural heritage for future generations,” said Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior, and member of the board of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “His leadership in the Senate has resulted in the protection of millions of acres of pristine wilderness, scenic areas and historic treasures.”

“As Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Bingaman has consistently highlighted the importance of protecting some of our most special places, both in New Mexico and around the country,” said Richard Moe, board member of the Conservation Lands Foundation and Santa Fe resident. “It is fitting that he should receive the highest honor from the Conservation Lands Foundation, as his efforts in Congress embody the leadership that Stewart Udall displayed in protecting America’s natural, historic and cultural resources.”

Sen. Bingaman has served in the Senate since 1983 and has been the chair and ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee since 1999. He helped secure the passage of the Ojito Wilderness Act, which protected a phenomenal landscape in New Mexico and designated the first new wilderness area in the state in 15 years.

He also sponsored the National Landscape Conservation System Act, which passed as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. The package established the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, which protects 290 million-year old fossilized animal tracks in the Robledo Mountains in Doña Ana County and the Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area (NCA), a one-of-a-kind geological treasure in Lincoln County. The bill was an historic success for BLM public lands, creating or expanding over two dozen wilderness areas, monuments and NCAs managed by the BLM in six states and codifying the National Conservation Lands, which protects nationally significant landscapes for current and future generations because of their outstanding cultural, ecological and scientific importance.

The award that Bingaman received is named for former Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, who was a tireless advocate for safeguarding the nation’s natural heritage. Prior winners of the Stewart Udall Award include former Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-NV) and retired BLM California State Director Ed Hasty.

The Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF) is the only organization dedicated solely to conserving the 27 million acres included in the National Conservation Lands. Our mission is to protect, restore and expand the National Conservation Lands through education, advocacy and partnerships.

June 20, 2012 at 12:22 PM in Environment, Sen. Jeff Bingaman | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Senators Engage Air Force on Aggressive Kirtland Fuel Spill Cleanup

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall are asking the Air Force to partner with county and state authorities to “conduct further scientific and technical analysis” to determine the scope of the Kirtland jet fuel leak and develop contingency plans for the continued safety of the drinking water.

The Senators, who met with Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Terry Yonkers in Washington last week for an update on the plume, wrote to him today in support of the Air Force’s goal to cleanup the spill and ensure the area continues to meet federal drinking water standards in the future.

“We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017,” they wrote. “We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water.”

The lawmakers also recommended that the Air Force continue to work in cooperation with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) and the New Mexico Environment Department to continue supporting area well monitoring, evaluating the nature of the plume, and regarding the progress of the cleanup efforts.

“We recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known,” the Senators wrote. “In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.”

The full text of the letter is below: May 24, 2012

The Honorable Terry Yonkers
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics
1670 Air Force Pentagon, Washington, DC 20330-1670

Dear Assistant Secretary Yonkers:
Thank you for visiting with us last week to discuss the cleanup of the Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) fuel spill in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We truly appreciate your ongoing attention to protecting the health and environment in and around KAFB.

We welcome your goal to aggressively remove fuel to stabilize the spilled fuel plume by 2017. We realize that significant uncertainties remain, but agree it is important to set a strong goal to ensure protection of drinking water. We also appreciate the fact that the Air Force is committed to working with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) to ensure there are adequate contingency plans for safe and reliable drinking water in case any existing water wells are ever affected. To ensure success, it is critical for the Air Force to maintain focus on achieving this mission and devoting the financial resources necessary to do so.

We would also like to follow up on our meeting with some recommendations in order to assist in resolving this issue and protecting the groundwater supplies that provide New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area with drinking water. First, we recommend that the Air Force continue to work closely with the ABCWUA and assist them with the necessary resources to conduct further scientific and technical analysis of the size, extent, and characterization of the spill, along with the progress and effectiveness of the cleanup project. While we have no reason to believe that the Air Force’s studies are inadequate, additional analysis would be a great help in maintaining public trust during this project.

Second, we are aware that the Air Force is providing resources to ABCWUA to conduct monthly testing of water wells, which to date have shown no contamination. We urge continuation of this arrangement and expanding it if appropriate to ensure accurate information about the safety of groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Finally, we recommend the Air Force continue to work cooperatively with the New Mexico Environment Department to ensure that the full size, extent, and characteristics of the fuel spill are known. In the past several years, public estimates of the size of the spill have ranged from one million gallons to twenty-four million gallons. While cleaning up the spill is most important, such a broad range indicates that full characterization is incomplete. We urge the Air Force to take a precautionary approach and do what the appropriate scientific and technical experts recommend to characterize this spill.

Thank you for your service to our country and your personal dedication to this cleanup project. If we can assist you on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely, Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator/ Tom Udall, United States Senator

May 27, 2012 at 08:43 PM in City of Albuquerque, Environment, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Bingaman, Udall & Luján Request Santa Clara Flood Preparation Assistance

In anticipation of the summer monsoon season, U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján are urging three federal agencies to commit resources to prevent catastrophic flooding in Santa Clara Pueblo that could occur as a result of the 2011 Las Conchas Wildfire.

In a letter to the Department of the Interior, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers the officials thanked the agencies for providing support in the aftermath of the Las Conchas Wildfire and asked them to quickly renew their efforts in order to protect the pueblo from this continued threat.

“Even a small rain event last summer led to intense flooding, the emergency evacuation of personnel in the canyon, the nearly complete destruction of the access road that runs up the canyon, and a Presidential Disaster Declaration,” they wrote. “A larger rain event would flood the pueblo itself, putting lives at risk, as well as hundreds of homes and the pueblo’s administration buildings.”

The Las Conchas Wild Fire stripped the Santa Clara Canyon of vegetation and hard-baked the soil, creating a dangerous funnel that routes surface water down the canyon toward the pueblo.

In the last 15 years, wildfires have burned more than 80 percent of the pueblo’s forest, resulting in the loss of natural resources, habitat and sacred sites.

The full text of the letter is below:
May 3, 2012
Re: Addressing Potentially Catastrophic Flooding at the Santa Clara Pueblo
 
Dear Secretary Salazar, Administrator Fugate, and Assistant Secretary Darcy:
Thank you for the support that each of your agencies and departments have offered to the Santa Clara Pueblo in the wake of the Las Conchas Wild Fire in 2011. This was the most recent fire to devastate the Pueblo’s lands. Combined with other wildfires in the last 15 years, more than 80% of the Pueblo’s forest has burned, resulting in the loss of natural resources, habitat, and sacred sites.

To our great appreciation, the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Federal Emergency Management Agency have all committed some resources to addressing the impact of this fire. Nonetheless, while recovery from this fire will take generations, there remains an immediate threat of catastrophic flooding that must be addressed. The fire stripped Santa Clara Canyon of vegetation and hard-baked the soil, creating a dangerous funnel, routing any surface water down the canyon to the Pueblo. Even a small rain event last summer led to intense flooding, the emergency evacuation of personnel in the canyon, the nearly complete destruction of the access road that runs up the canyon, and a Presidential Disaster Declaration. A larger rain event would flood the Pueblo itself, putting lives at risk, as well as hundreds of homes and the Pueblo’s administration buildings. Post-fire hydrology studies have confirmed that this is a real and immediate threat considering the imminent monsoonal rains.

We ask that you redouble your efforts and provide assistance in the very near term to put in place structures and plans that will protect the Pueblo before the onset of the monsoon season expected this summer. In particular, we believe that:
  • the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) Advance Measures program, authorized by 33 USC 701n and implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers, allows for the funding of flood control work in anticipation of post-fire related floods in northern New Mexico;
  • the Bureau of Indian Affairs has the authority and should identify funds so that the Santa Clara Pueblo can engage in critical long-term planning for recovery from the fire and subsequent flooding; and
  • funding for repair and renovation of water control structures in and out of the Santa Clara Canyon, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency has under review, should be provided as soon as possible so that work can begin immediately.

The Santa Clara Pueblo has a long road ahead, but with your support, the lives and property of the people can be protected, while the mission of restoring the canyon and forest can go on.

Sincerely,
Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator
Tom Udall, United States Senator
Ben Ray Luján, Member of Congress

May 3, 2012 at 09:24 PM in Climate, Environment, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall, Water Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Mexico’s Working Families Praise New Mexico’s U.S. Senators for Voting to End Billions in Special Oil & Gas Company Tax Breaks

From Organizers in the Land of Enchantment:

Reps. Luján, Heinrich Vote Against Oil & Gas Tax Breaks in Ryan Budget

The U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation Thursday by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) which would have cut $24 billion in tax breaks for the five richest oil companies and use the savings to pay down the U.S. debt and invest in wind power and energy efficiency. Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) praised New Mexico’s U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall for voting for the legislation.

Even though a majority voted to pass the bill, the nearly party line vote of 51-47 failed to muster the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (WI) budget which retains a decade of oil and gas industry tax breaks worth tens of billions of dollars. OLÉ applauds Congressmen Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich for voting against continuing these taxpayer giveaways and expresses frustration that Rep. Steve Pearce voted for it.

Oil companies made $137 billion in profits last year, thanks to the high prices consumers paid at the gas pump. And despite nearly record high levels of drilling in the United States, gas prices are going up not down.

“We don’t have a problem with too little production; we have a problem with too much profiteering. And working families are footing the bill,” said Mathew Henderson, OLÉ Executive Director.

March 31, 2012 at 12:18 PM in Children and Families, Energy, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bill That Funds N.M. Public Lands and Other Initiatives Sent to President

An excellent Christmas present for New Mexico. Should provide some jobs at least to get a few people working again.And if anyone has driven through some of our State Forest there is alot of downed and dead standing trees. The $402 million should help that hazardous condition within the state.

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall voted for final approval of a spending measure that funds important public lands initiatives in New Mexico.

The Senate today approved the fiscal year 2012 Omnibus Spending Bill and will now send it to the President to be signed into law.

“By improving the health of our national forests and protecting our state’s public lands, the funding in this bill is an important investment in New Mexico and its people,” Bingaman said.

“New Mexico's public lands are an essential part of our heritage and provide a livelihood for folks across the state,” said Udall.  “This bill provides critical funding to help sustain New Mexico's enchanting landscapes and special places.”

The bill included funding for the following New Mexico initiatives:

  • $3.432 million for operations at the Valles Caldera National Preserve
  •  $3.4 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire the Miranda Canyon property in Taos County by the Carson National Forest.
  • $8.533 million for the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts in Santa Fe.
  • $40 million for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund – a program that Senator Bingaman authored in 2009.  Two New Mexico projects will benefit from this level of funding: the ongoing Southwest Jemez Project and a highly-ranked project in the Zuni Mountains within the Cibola National Forest will have a better chance at getting selected during the second round of national selections.
  • $1 million for the Livestock Loss Demonstration Program. A portion of the funds will go to New Mexico to compensate ranchers for livestock depredations by Mexican wolves and other means of reducing conflicts between cattle and wolves.

Also at Bingaman and Udall’s urging, the final bill includes $402 million for the Forest Service’s Hazardous Fuels and State Fire Assistance programs, which help mitigate the risks of severe wildfires.

December 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM in Land Issues, Rural Issues, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

N.M. Senators React to Report on Use of Chimpanzees in Research

BingamanUdall

U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall welcomed news that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will adopt new guidelines outlined in a new scientific report that greatly limit the circumstances under which chimpanzees can be used for research.

At the request of New Mexico’s senators and Senator Tom Harkin, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies undertook a comprehensive study about whether chimpanzees are still necessary for health research. The expert report, released publicly today, concluded that testing on chimpanzees is largely no longer necessary, however, very limited circumstances exist where it may still be beneficial.

On the heels of being briefed about the report findings on Tuesday, Bingaman and Udall wrote to the National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins urging the prompt adoption of the IOM's new recommendations. The senators also told Dr. Collins they hoped that, in light of the new report, the chimpanzees in Alamogordo will be excluded from further testing. The Senator's letter is at the end of this post.

The Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) has worked tirelessly for the stopping of the testing on Chimpanzees at New Mexico's Alamagordo Primate Facility . APNM's website states their mission: "APNM's mission is to advocate the rights of animals by effecting systemic change, resulting in the humane treatment of all animals."

Laura Bonar, APNM Program Director had this to say about the report, “This represents years of effort with many dedicated New Mexicans working together to protect these chimpanzees. It also shows the power of the people when working together in a meaningful way the success that can be achieved."

The Senator's letter follows:

December 14, 2011

Dear Director Collins:

We are writing regarding the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, “Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research,” which our offices were briefed on earlier this week. We appreciate the support you and the NIH staff have dedicated to this issue following our request for the study.

The IOM report recommends the National Institutes of Health adopt strict criteria for evaluating future proposals to use chimpanzees in biomedical, genomics, or behavioral research programs. These criteria would significantly reduce the need for chimpanzees in health research. We ask you to promptly adopt these recommendations.

In addition, we hope that you will find that the chimpanzees in Alamogordo Primate Facility (APF) should be excluded from research after you evaluate them in light of these new criteria. For example, the report notes that one of the few areas of biomedical research where chimpanzees may still be needed is to evaluate the effectiveness of prophylactic vaccines for the hepatitis C virus, the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States. However, many of the APF chimpanzees are already infected with the hepatitis C virus and therefore may not be suitable for evaluating the effectiveness of a prophylactic vaccine for this virus.

Although the report cautions against imposing an immediate ban on the use of chimpanzees in research, it clearly highlights that the need for using chimpanzees in testing has greatly diminished. Specifically the report states “[t]he present trajectory indicates a decreasing scientific need for chimpanzee studies due to the emergence of non-chimpanzee models and technologies.” With that in mind, we ask that you support funding for these technologies that further diminish the need to use chimpanzees in biomedical research.

Thank you for consideration of these matters.

Sincerely, 

Jeff Bingaman, United States Senator  

Tom Udall, United States Senator  

December 17, 2011 at 09:22 AM in Animal Protection, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 09, 2011

NM Dem Politicos Respond to President Obama's Jobs Speech

Here are the statements released by New Mexico Democratic politicos following President Obama’s address last night to a Joint Session of Congress on the American Jobs Act:

Senator Jeff Bingaman:
“In his speech tonight, the president set forth a very good plan for the country.  As he pointed out, job creation needs to be our focus this fall. Congress wasted too many months focusing on other issues this year, and Americans are anxious to have us turn our attention back to the economy. 

“I agree with the president that we need to keep in place tax incentives that encourage businesses to hire workers, and that we can create jobs by investing in our nation’s roads and bridges. 

“I also agree that one of the fastest ways to stimulate our weak economy is by extending unemployment benefits to those who cannot find work. This will not only help keep food on the tables of American families, it will create demand in the economy and therefore support good jobs. 

“I believe we will not be able to fix our long-term economic problems if we don’t act now to stimulate jobs creation. Longer-term, we will need to put in place a deficit plan that gets us back to a balanced budget. We had one at the end of the Clinton administration and we can get there again. 

“I hope that in the coming weeks we will get the bipartisan cooperation we need – and that Americans deserve – to get our economy back on track.” 

Senator Tom Udall:
"The key to revitalizing our economy and reducing the deficit is job creation.

“President Obama outlined a framework for our economy that would help middle class families keep more of their hard-earned money and incentivize new hiring in fields like construction. He also reminded us the importance of extending unemployment insurance and keeping teachers and first responders on the job to avoid doing further economic damage.

“I also believe the president worked hard tonight to strike the right chord. Now, it’s time for Congress to stop bickering and unite to put forward a balanced and effective jobs package to inspire confidence in the economy and make the progress our country so desperately needs."

Congessman Martin Heinrich (NM-01 and candidate for U.S. Senate):
“New Mexicans want bold and immediate action to turn our economy around and put people back to work. My constituents can’t afford to wait any longer and I won’t stop working until every New Mexican who wants a job can get one.

“The President's intentions are solid and I agree with his urgency for action.  But in order for anything to get done, Republicans in Congress need to come to the table and stop trying to score political points at the expense of our economy. It’s been nearly 250 days since the Republicans took control of the House and they still haven’t introduced a jobs package.

“Action to put our neighbors back to work is long overdue.  We must reinvigorate America’s economic competitiveness, reform our tax code, and unleash our innovation and manufacturing strength to create jobs at home.”

State Auditor Hector Balderas, candidate for U.S. Senate:
"Tonight, the President outlined a common-sense plan that will help create jobs in the short-term. At a time when too many New Mexicans are worried that the American Dream is becoming out-of-reach, getting our economy moving again must be Washington's top priority.

"President Obama has the right approach and the initiatives he laid out will ignite our economy and put Americans back to work. Most importantly, President Obama's plan will create jobs for the drivers of our economy, including small business owners, teachers, emergency first responders, veterans and construction workers. They will rebuild our infrastructure and our schools.

"By cutting taxes for small businesses and those that hire new workers, New Mexico's small businesses will be able to hire and expand, ultimately providing hard working and middle class New Mexicans with more money. We can't afford to continue giving additional tax breaks to big businesses. We need to close tax loopholes for large corporations and billionaires and invest in small businesses, the middle class, and the most vulnerable citizens. I applaud the President for taking that approach.

"I look forward to seeing the President's specific proposals on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While I agree with him that strategic reform is necessary to strengthen our safety net, I will remain steadfastly opposed to any proposal that cuts benefits or balances the budget on the backs of seniors, the middle class and most vulnerable. These programs are sacred compacts we have made with the American people, and a strong safety net is critical to creating a strong economy.

"Overall, the President's plan is a necessary and essential approach to immediately put people back to work and provide a jolt for our economy. But this must only be the first step. We need more ambitious and aggressive action that makes larger investments in education, infrastructure, and innovation, such as solar and green technology.

"New Mexicans work hard every day to fulfill their responsibilities. If Congress fails to pass the American Jobs Act and further economic initiatives, they are failing theirs."

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, NM-03:
“I am encouraged that President Obama has made it clear to the American people that creating jobs is his top priority. During my travels across New Mexico during the recent district work period, I met with many constituents who want nothing more than the opportunity to get back to work. That is why I wrote to New Mexico’s national labs and military bases earlier today urging them to contract more with New Mexico-headquartered businesses in order to encourage more business opportunities in our state. 

“After nearly 250 days, we have yet to see any jobs agenda from House Republicans. The majority has not brought one bill to the House floor that addresses job creation. With so many New Mexicans looking for work, this failure to act is simply unacceptable.

“This evening, President Obama offered a number of proposals that I hope Congress will move quickly to enact. This plan is a good start with many ideas that have received bipartisan support in the past and are deserving of that support again. But I hope that we can build on this plan to do more to bring back our manufacturing sector so we can once again make it in America and invest in the innovation that will unleash the next generation of technological advancements.

“Putting money back in the pockets of middle-class Americans will provide a much-needed boost to the economy and help those hit hardest by the economic recession. With our nation’s infrastructure in need of significant repairs and modernization, building new roads and bridges will not only put people back to work, but will also invest in our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy.

“While it is clear that we must focus on reducing our deficit, it is critical that we do not sacrifice job creation and economic growth in that process. The President’s plan, which is fully paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share, will not add to the deficit while laying the foundation for much-needed job creation.”

Eric Griego, candidate for Congress NM-01:
“I hope Congress will push the President to be bolder and ultimately pass a plan with more substantial impact on creating jobs. With 14 million Americans unemployed and another 25 million more underemployed, Americans can no longer afford timidity from Washington. And that is why earlier today I released my job creation plan calling for a bold New Marshall Plan for American Jobs.

“I am skeptical that his plan goes far enough in direct investments to create millions of jobs immediately. While I support many provisions of the American Jobs Act, including construction projects, state aid, targeted tax cuts for working families and asking the rich to share the burden more fairly, it is simply unacceptable to even consider putting Medicare and Social Security cuts on the table. And I do not believe the President should sign any free trade agreement with South Korea and Columbia unless strong, enforceable labor, environmental and human rights provisions become part of the trade deals.

“But the President should be commended for releasing his job creation plan, since Republicans in Congress do not seem interested enough to release any at all.”

To read the full text of Eric Griego’s bold job creation proposal, "A Marshall Plan for American Jobs, released earlier yesterday, click here.

Marty Chavez, candidate for Congress NM-01:
“Tonight, President Obama laid out an aggressive plan for putting Americans and New Mexicans back to work. As a nation, we don’t have any time to waste. We need to get a jobs program moving immediately and I hope Congress will act fast.

“Times are tough for many New Mexican families and rounds and rounds of discussion won’t solve anything or put more money in people’s pockets. We need to act quickly and get people back to work right away. 

“I understand the challenges of creating jobs. As Mayor, my administration put people to work building homes, schools and offices as well as putting fair incentives in place to attract many high-tech, clean energy jobs that are driving our local economy today.

“That’s why I fully support closing the loopholes which unfairly allow wealthy corporations to pay little or no taxes so that we can cut taxes for local small businesses. Instead of giving tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas, we should be encouraging policies that support buying American products and hiring American workers.

“This economic situation was not created overnight and a large part of the deficit we currently face was brought on by two wars that were completely unpaid for. To help get our deficit under control, we must bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan because we simply cannot afford these wars any longer.

“The stakes are too high right now to continue the bickering that has plagued Washington. It’s time we put people back to work and get our economy moving again for middle class families.”

Note: If I get any additional statements, I will add them here.

September 9, 2011 at 07:10 AM in Economy, Populism, Eric Griego, Hector Balderas, Jobs, Martin Chavez, Obama Jobs Proposals, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (1)