A collection of the latest letters to the editor, interviews and public comments from 350NM Steering Committee Members.
This reflection chronicles the brave journey taken in June 2021 by Ann and Ward McCartney, 350NM Steering Committee Members to Waubun, Minnesota, Anishinaabe territory. They stood in solidarity with indigenous people and in protest to the expansion of the tar sands Line 3 pipeline from Canada through treaty-protected lands to Superior, Wisconsin. Line 3 is a tar sands pipeline currently under construction through northern Minnesota – violating treaty rights, risking over 200 bodies of water with the threat of an oil spill, and reversing our progress on climate change with a carbon equivalent of 50 coal-fired power plants.
June 12, 2021 ABQ Journal Editorial on UNM Fossil Fuel Divestment Misguided A May 24, 2021 Albuquerque Journal editorial criticized UNM faculty for urging UNM Regents and the UNM Foundation to sell its fossil-fuel holdings and reinvest in clean energy and climate change solutions. Representing the UNM Coalition on Climate, Stefi Weisburd argued that current Foundation policy ignores climate change risk to its peril and that the global energy transition is providing safer, higher-return opportunties. Many other university endowments and pension plans use these risk screens, and UNM should too. The Journal should also have disclosed that its publisher is a member of the UNM Foundation Board of Trustees.
May 14, 2021. Local Industry Must Address Methane A UN report says slashing methane is one of the best ways to stop future warming. Global industry has already cut leaks. Local industry should, too, if it wants to have a future here in the 2nd-fastest warming state. It shouldn’t brag about undermining attempts to rein in methane pollution. Shame on legislators who take industry money and block reasonable regulation. They all show contempt for anyone who hopes to live and breathe in our state. – Stefi Weisburd.
May 10, 2021. Faculty Senate President calls on UNM Regents and Leadership to Act on Climate Change. University of New Mexico Faculty Senate President joins the Staff and Students calling on UNM Regents and Leadership to divest, reduce emissions and help communities transition to clean energy and other economic bases. Regent Begay responds by saying divestment is a “heavy lift” and climate groups at UNM should consider a garden fed by food waste and planted with species that are sensitive to pollution as a showcase project. May 16, 2021. Albuquerque Journal: UNM Faculty Senate seeks fossil fuel divestment
May 7, 2021
350NM and Friends protest the financing of Line 3 being built through Indigenous territory without consent. If built, Line 3 would release as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as 50 new coal-fired power plants. It’s time for banks like Chase and Wells Fargo to stop financing climate chaos.
Read a story about this in The Paper.
May 5, 2021. Take Care of Orphaned Wells. Lujan and Leger Fernandez tackle billions needed to plug, clean up New Mexico drill sites. New Mexico has over 100,000 oil and gas wells, including a backlog of 700 orphaned wells companies have abandoned. Many of these wells are leaking greenhouse gas methane. NM only has $2 million in bonds from operators to clean up what will be a $8.3 billion problem. Job creating federal legislation – Lujan’s REGROW Act and Leger Fernandez’s Orphaned Well Cleanup and Jobs Act – will help NM and other states, write Walter Gerstle and Angelo Tomedi.
Edgewood Independent April30- May issue. American Lung Association report card gives Fs to three NM oil and gas counties, including Eddy, which made it to the list of 25 worst counties with the highest ozone, or smog, levels. Ozone comes from VOCs emitted with oil and gas drilling. Lots of people including kids have asthma and other respiratory diseases which are greatly aggravated by smog. A lot of counties are not testing for ozone or particulates. That is bad news, writes Stefi Weisburd.
April 28, 2021. UNM Must Lead the Way in Addressing Climate Crisis. Walter Gerstle, 350NM board member and UNM professor emeritus and two UNM Leaf students urge UNM lead on overcoming our carbon addiction. The letter suggests nine actions UNM can take from stop burning natural gas to produce electricity, electrifying fleet vehicles and divesting from fossil fuel companies and reinvesting in clean energy technologies.
April 28, 2021. Regulate Numerous Stripper Wells of Large Corporations In this Letter to the Editor and the one below in the Santa Fe New Mexican, 350NM co-Founder explains the importance of upcoming regulations being drafted by the NM Environment Department Secretary James Kenny on methane emissions. Contrary to what the industry claims, these stripper wells are owned by companies that can afford to cap leaks. Multibillion dollar Hillcorp for example owns 49% of the stripper wells in San Juan, and 54% of stipper wells in NM are owned by just 10 large companies like Exxon, Chevron, Conoco Phillips and Occidental. While not in this letter, a soon to be released United Nations report says that methane emissions for oil and gas are much higher than previously thought, but eliminating these are easily done with existing cost-effective technology and will be a crucial tool in fighting global warming in the near term.
April 23, 2021. Methane Regulations Should Cover Stripper Wells Letter to the Editor by 350NM co-Founder Jim Mckenzie explains that stripper wells are marginal oil and gas wells nearing the end of their production life. There are 29,838 stripper wells quietly emitting greenhouse gases and other pollutants statewide today. Many are owned by large national and multinational corporations; they are not mom and pop operations, as industry sources claim. The New Mexico Environment Department must not exempt them in rules curbing emissions of methane.
Stefi Weisburd and the UNM Coalition on Climate cite Senator Heinrich’s call for a Space Program-like mobilization by Regents and Leadership at New Mexico Universities around Climate Change (see video below). She and two students warned the Regents about the dangers Climate Change poses to the UNM Endowment especially with its Investment Policy banning the use of “Environmental, Social and Governance” criteria when evaluating investments. They also called on President Stokes to update UNM’s 2009 Climate Action Plan, recommit to emission reduction and to comply with New Mexico’s landmark Energy Transition Act.
April 12, 2021 Letter to the Editor in the Albuquerque Journal. Skip ‘credit’; transition faster. Climate justice dictates we should help those making the temporarily painful transition to a non-carbon world by funding new training, new jobs that build a safer, less threatening planet, writes Nancy Weeks Singham, member of the 350NM Rural Advocacy and Education Committees in response to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham request to the Biden Administration for a waiver to the Oil and Gas Lease pause.
March 24, 2021. Sen. Martin Heinrich is excited about the growth of NM clean energy jobs in this webinar with 350NM and the NM Solar Energy Association. Interviewed by 350NM Board Member Walter Gerstle, Heinrich says there will be jobs in plugging oil and gas wells, replacing polluting natural gas stoves with electric ones, plus other energy efficiency, renewable and infrastructure jobs coming down the line with the Biden Administration initiatives. He also urges NM university Presidents and Regents to engage with the climate emergency at a level of urgency on par with the Space Program.
LTE: City of Chama will save $260K over 20 years with solar for wastewater treatment. March 18, 2021. Rio Arriba County and Chama Valley schools are looking to do the same, writes 350NM’s Ward McCartney. If Senate Bill 83, Local Choice Energy had passed the Legislature this season many more municipalities and schools could have taken advantage of even larger cost savings.
Video of Climate Change Talk to NM Society of Professional Engineers. March 14, 2021 (Pi Day) by 350NM Board Member and University of New Mexico Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering Walter Gerstle. Lots of great info on climate change and reasons to be hopeful about the rapid transition to renewables. Plus a climate denier adds to the drama.
The Howl: Climate Change Edition. Feb 27, 2021. In this UNM podcast, Gino Gutierrez, Managing Editor of the New Mexico Daily Lobo interviews members of the University of New Mexico Coalition on Climate about their recent editorial in the newspaper urging UNM to address climate change in its investments, research, curriculum and physical plant. The members include UNM emeritus Professor Walter Gerstle and former pre-college STEM outreach manager Stefi Weisburd, both members of 350NM.
Daily Lobo Op-ed: Climate Justice at UNM. Feb. 22, 2021. UNM community members have been urging action on climate change for decades. Students have graduated. Presidents have changed. Professors and staff have retired. Lots of meetings have occurred, with a few positive steps to reduce carbon emissions. But the atmospheric carbon keeps rising, the temperatures keep increasing, our droughts and forest fires keep getting worse and our communities are being impacted. UNM can no longer afford to wait: The time to act on climate change is now.
Letter to the Editor: In favor of SB 12 & HB 9,the Climate Solutions Act. 350NM Board Member Stephanie Haan-Amato speaks out in favor of HB 9 (which didn’t pass) and SB 112 (task force for a sustainable economy), which passed, from an educators point of view. Feb. 21, 2021.
Senate committees need to let all sides speak Feb. 19, 2021. Stephanie Haan-Amato objects to the Senate Judiciary Committee silencing supporters of Senate Bill 86, Use of Water for Oil and Gas Operations, while allowing lobbyists from the oil and gas industry to speak for 10 minutes to oppose the bill.
Feb. 10, 2021. In this video, Nancy Weeks Singham, 350NM Rural Advocacy and Education member gives a brilliant short history of climate change to the University of New Mexico Honors College Discovery Series before she introduces Beata Tsosie-Peña and Land Witness Project.
Voices: Climate change means more in drought. Jan. 10, 2021. Writing in response to a Rich Lowry column, 350NM member, Stefi Weisburd says: from Lowry’s view on the East Coast, concerns about the effects of climate change must not seem very urgent, personal or expensive. But here in the Southwest, climate change has pushed us into the second worst drought in 1,200 years.
Renewable energy, jobs, clean, less expensive. Dec. 3, 2020. In response to another letter, 350NM Board Member Ward McCartney sets the record straight on power outages in California and the benefits for renewable energy in New Mexico as the drought worsens.
Guest Column. Renewables are not to blame for California Blackouts. Sept. 8, 2020. We cannot air-condition our way comfortably into the future if we are powering those air conditioners with fossil fuel plants spewing carbon into the air, further driving temperatures even higher, says 350NM board member Stefi Weisburd.
New Mexico oil and gas methane regulations criticized for ‘loopholes’. Aug. 7, 2020. 350NM’s Walter Gerstle was quoted in this story: “I am very concerned about greenhouse gas induced climate change. If action isn’t taken, the recent increases in oil and gas production will result in even further greenhouse gas emissions. Every effort should be taken to prevent natural gas from escaping into the atmosphere.”
Low-Income and Environmental Advocates Applaud New Mexico’s New Energy Conservation Building Code. Aug. 7, 2020. 350 New Mexico co-founders Tom Solomon & Jim Mackenzie react to the adoption of a statewide energy conservation code based on the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code.
news-bulletin.com. Renewable Energy. Aug. 22, 2019. What do 144 companies, as an example, Coca-Cola, Nike, Anheuser-Busch, General Mills, Walmart, plus Amazon, Google’s Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple, etc., have in common? 350NM Board Member Ward McCartney will tell you.