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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Susana Martinez Picks Harrison Schmitt, Climate Change Denier, to Head NM Energy Dept.

Schmitt110 In yet another move to cleanse New Mexico of any and all environmental regulations, green, clean, renewable energy initiatives and efforts to mitigate the growing impact of damaging climate change, GOP Gov. Susana Martinez today named a climate change denier to head New Mexico's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. She's cleansing so her big donors can dirty things up with abandon in the state, as never before.

Martinez has chosen former astronaut and senator from New Mexico, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, aged 75, as a prominent partner in her planned environmental retreat back to the 1950s. Schmitt said as much, right out loud, at today's announcement of his nomination:

I think New Mexico's been ill-served in the past few years. It's very clear that energy-related jobs have been migrating away from the state of New Mexico, and it's time to make sure, in a rational way, that those jobs come back.

Rational. Right. According to the "rational" dictates of Martinez's fossil-fuel energy donors to make more money regardless of what they destroy in the process. Here's an article about some of Schmitt's nefarious connections to oil company-funded groups that work to undermine genuine climate science. By the way, Schmitt has never published a peer-reviewed paper on the topic of climate change. Get the picture?

Environmental Regulation Attack Squad
At today's press conference in Santa Fe, Martinez jumped right into the fray and repeated her attack on the so-called "pit rule," suggesting it would be next up on the environmental regulation chopping block and "will certainly be one of his [Schmitt's] responsibilities immediately."

Schmitt agreed:

This whole regulatory review is something that I think is going to go on throughout the country. The pit rule is just one that has to be looked at to see whether it's really accomplishing anything relative to what its intent was, and whether that intent really was a valid intent to begin with.

Notice Schmitt links the attack on environmental regulations here with the right wing's ferocious attack on anything that protects the environment that's ongoing in many other states and in the nation's capitol. In other words, the Martinez administration is just one cog in the national right-wing corporatist machine that's seeking to undermine all the environmental and energy progress we've made in recent years. All for one and one for all -- and fossil-fuel energy polluters have purchased a ton of huge, comfortable seats at the table both here and in Washington.

Schmitt also clearly telegraphed his intent to crush the state's efforts to develop renewables and green jobs when he was asked a question today about a statewide renewable enrgy transmission authority (RETA):

I have been involved in these so-called renewable resources for many, many years. You have to realize that most of these energy sources today, almost without exception, could not survive in a real economic environment. They either require taxpayer subsidies or ... increased fees.

Schmitt said wind and solor are examples of that. What he neglected to admit is that the fossil fuel industries -- including gas, oil and coal -- receive massive subsidies that not only hold prices down (when it's convenient) but often result in record-breaking profits for dirty energy producers. Schmitt obviously knows that, but like most political hacks who are deep in the pocket of irresponsible energy producers, he refuses to admit it publicly.

Schmitt: Geologist Against Climate Science
By the way, Schmitt is a geologist by education, getting his training so long ago that renewable energy wasn't even on the radar. So it's natural that he's attached to the old-fashioned habit of digging in the earth for energy -- damn the consequences -- as well as in the moon, where he once walked. He believes the moon's natural resources should be exploited by private industry, not explored for public benefit.

Showing his vehement climate-change-denier loyalties, Schmitt quit his post at the Planetary Society -- a nonprofit dedicated to space exploration -- in November 2008 over a number of policy differences, including the Society's "accelerating research into global climate change through more comprehensive Earth observations." In his resignation letter, Schmitt claimed that the "global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision-making."

Commenting on the global warming debate, Schmitt said, "It's one of the few times you've seen a sizable portion of scientists who ought to be objective take a political position and it's coloring their objectivity." Here he is on Fox Business in December 2009 bagging the concept of man-made climate change, as well as the need to restrict greenhouse gases and implement cap and trade.

In the interview, he denies there is a "scientific consensus" on climate change, and says "the CO2 scare is a red herring." He states that the "global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision-making," and that scientists who might otherwise challenge prevailing views on climate change dare not do so for fear of losing funding.

Dem Party Responds
Commenting on Susana's pick for EMNRD Secretary, DPNM Executive Director Scott Forrestor today said, “Martinez promised bold change and she’s bringing it in the form of an appointee at odds with the basic tenets of science and reason. This appointment is a clear signal to Martinez’s big-oil backers that the days of basic protections for New Mexicans’ air and drinking water are over.”

“Martinez has never said one word about how important it is to have clean air and water in our beautiful state and instead has spent her short time in office ripping down basic environmental protections for our citizens,” Forrester continued. “These moves are either straight payback for her contributors or a blatant disregard for the importance of clean air and water -- not only for the lives of New Mexicans, but for future economic development.”

Schmitt on the Record
On many occasions, Schmitt has scoffed at decades of sound scientific evidence and a mountain of research that validated the human causes of global climate change. Some additional examples:

“I don’t think the human effect is significant compared to the natural effect,” said Schmitt [Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt calls global warming a 'political tool', by Tony Hake, 2/16/09]

“Contrary to categorical statements by many politicians and unfortunately some scientists, including some colleagues of mine, the science of climate change and its causes is not settled - at least not to this geologist,” said Shimitt [Astronaut Harrison Schmitt: Climate change alarmists 'intentionally mislead', by Tony Hake, 3/1/09]

Schmitt said, “No definitive evidence therefore exists to support the hypothesis that the industrial revolution has driven carbon dioxide levels up more rapidly than otherwise expected as a response to long term temperature increases.  No evidence likewise exists AGAINST the conclusion that variations in solar heating remain the overwhelming dominate driver of climate change and weather.” [Astronaut Harrison Schmitt: Climate change alarmists 'intentionally mislead', by Tony Hake, 3/1/09]

Here's local reporter Peter St. Cyr interviewing Schmitt back in December 2009 on KNME's New Mexico In Focus on a variety of topics. In addition to criticizing New Mexico's public spaceport initiative, Schmitt discusses his contention that the vast majority of climate scientists are wrong about the causes of accelerating global warming and climate change (starting at 7:09 minutes):

Blue_marble Ironically, given his long-time battle against the findings of peer-reviewed, professional climate science and any efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, Schmitt claims that he took the iconic photo of the earth from space that has become known as "The Blue Marble." NASA, on the other hand, says only that the photo was taken by one of the Apollo 17 crew back in 1972. The photo has long been used to illustrate the fact that all of us share a fragile and unique home that's vulnerable to the damaging forces of human neglect, greed and thoughtlessness. Like the kind that's defended by Harrison Schmitt, our new Energy Secretary.

January 6, 2011 at 05:25 PM in Climate, Energy, Environment, Science, Susana Martinez | Permalink


Congratulations to Dr. Schmitt and Governor Martinez on an absolutely brilliant appointment! It will be great for New Mexico to have a life long energy expert heading our State's Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Dept. His wide ranging expertise and scientific background is an invaluable asset to New Mexico. Best news of all, he will be bringing private sector jobs back to our State.

Posted by: A. J. Thinker | Jan 6, 2011 7:05:25 PM

Schmitt isn't an "energy expert." He's a geologist who shills for oil companies and the organizations they fund with hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the kind of thinking that produced the BP oil disaster and more. He's an old white man stuck in the past and willing to sell his soul to the devil. He wants to "privatize" the moon and believes he knows more as a geologist than climate scientists know about the science they have studied so carefully.

Thank back to when the 75 yr old was a senator here. He was awful and embarrassing. He is nothing more than a crank.

Posted by: Real Thinker | Jan 6, 2011 7:40:20 PM

Virginia, eh, "A. J. Thinker." Now that's a progressive state.

Posted by: barb | Jan 6, 2011 7:42:25 PM

Virginia! A progressive State? You're darn right its "progressive"!! Governor Bob McDonnell's election was the beginning of the Democratic Meltdown last November!! And the election of Governor Martinez was another win for "We the People" & the Constitution!!! You know the Constitution, don't you? That document written by those "old white men" stuck in the past!

Posted by: A. J. Thinker | Jan 6, 2011 7:53:08 PM

VA is the laughingstock of the nation now, as you so ably prove with your comments. If you knew about the constitution you'd know it was written as a living document. VA right wing nuts like you however think it should return to the days when slavery was wonderful and women couldn't vote. You lost the Civil War. Get over it.

Posted by: Sean | Jan 6, 2011 8:31:47 PM

Yeah how's that Confederate History Month working out for you hillbilly?

Posted by: Salynaa | Jan 6, 2011 8:47:56 PM

I am deeply angered and disappointed at this appointment. What a freaking disaster! Richardson and our congressional delegation brought industry and jobs to the state with alternative energy initiatives, not to mention attracting national attention for providing a solid model of how states can move forward on mitigating climate change in the absence of federal legislative action. The good news is, it's not a done deal! This appointment is pending confirmation from the state Senate. Please contact your own Senator and let them know you want someone who has science backing him/her up, not just corporate interests.

Posted by: Ellen K | Jan 7, 2011 10:42:43 AM

Jobs to the state with alternative energy initiatives? Hah! the High Lonesome wind farm, 100 MW rated capacity, employed approx 250 people during construction, with less than 10 locals, and there will be less than 10 F/T jobs maintaining the site.

BTW, 100 MW rated is probably less than 30 MW annual average, but we'll never know for sure because Edison Mission Group, like every wind farm in the state and US (except BPA) does not publish the output numbers. If the numbers were great, then they would be crowing, so the numbers must look awfully like BPA's: Jan 1-4 = almost nothing

Harrison Schmitt has got it exactly right: it does no good to throw tax money at unreliable, inefficient energy sources. Think I'm blowing smoke: ask yourself how many High Lonesome wind farms would it require to replace just the San Juan GS (1800 MW coal). The answer is: a minimum of 60 (1800 MW / 30 MW), assuming that all 60 weren't becalmed at the same time. Also assuming that there are 59 more Class 6 wind sites in NM. If not, you'll need to use lesser quality sites with lower power outputs.

If the goal is to reduce CO2, then the first whack has to be coal plants, and the answer is not "blowing in the wind". Since the major AGW-supporting groups in NM and the US are fanatical in their support for wind & solar, then Schmitt's conclusion that AGW is a political tool has some basis, b/c if AGW is so important and the solution so imperative, why is it being attacked with the equivalent of feathers? The political argument is strengthened by statements like this one by the chair of IPCC Working Group 3: Paul Dreissen is the author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death.

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Jan 7, 2011 3:48:45 PM

If you think Harrison Schmitt makes sense then you don't by definition. This is a crank who gives interviews to late night conspiracy theory radio shows that are laughed at in the real world. The real job power is in manufacturing, where other nations are beating our asses because of idiotic views like those of "Paul" and Harrison.

Posted by: Rudy | Jan 7, 2011 4:21:46 PM

I am amazed at the qualifications of who Gov. Richardson appointed as EMNRD secretary. Joanna Prukop was a wildlife biologist who would have much more suited for NM Game and Fish. Jon Goldstein, her replacement a year ago, was a communications director and newspaper reporter. His criteria must have been "able to say 'yes' to me" and "no technical expertise in the subject area."

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Jan 7, 2011 5:18:30 PM

The only "peer review" in climate science is whether or not you toe the leftist party line. If you dare to question the climate change hoax you are attacked and smeared and will certainly lose your grant money. But even the lockstep leftists cannot keep the truth from coming out. Their "science" is a pack of lies, distortions, and garbage.

Posted by: Mike Constitution | Jan 7, 2011 9:23:07 PM

The last two comments dramatically demonstrate what's the matter with the right wing on this issue and many others. Facts and science are viewed as obstacles to achieving what the right wing wants, which is always more profits for their campaign "contributors" and more profits for corporations. These people don't care if they poison our residents or mess up the planet so our children and grandchildren will have to suffer.

Anyone who can view a petroleum engineer as a good choice to guard against abuse of our air and water by petroleum companies and others has a screw loose or supports the wanton destruction of our resources.

Facts are facts and no matter how many times these unscrupulous, greedy individuals claim that the vast majority of expert climate scientists of the world are in some kind of conspiracy to ruin the economy, it still remains a notion embraced by cranks and shills for oil companies.

Posted by: George R. | Jan 7, 2011 9:38:55 PM

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