For Immediate Release

Santa Fe, N.M. – Today, Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) and Juntos: Our Air, Our Water, a program of our sister organization CVNM Education Fund, hosted Environmental Justice Day at the State Capitol. About 40 community leaders from areas impacted by environmental justice (EJ) issues participated in the citizens’ advocacy day intended to highlight various EJ issues impacting our air, land, water and health.

As part of the day, community leaders urged 17 legislators representing Espanola, the South Valley, Westgate and the International District in Albuquerque and on the Senate Corporations Committee to support House Bill 338 and companion bill Senate Bill 342, the Community Solar Gardens Act (Roybal Caballero/Lopez). The bill would enable utility customers who are renters or who are otherwise prevented from installing roof-top solar to have equal access to the benefits of self-selecting and self-generating their energy source.

Juntos, CVNM and CVNMEF support communities’ ability to choose their own energy sources at the most local level. Juntos’ community leaders want energy that fuels their homes and lives to have the least impacts on climate change and health. In a community survey of 500 Latino families in Albuquerque, 73% said it is very important that their utility generate electricity in ways that do not pollute our air or contribute to climate change.

“I’m here today because I want to advocate for access to clean water, clean air and clean energy for our families, children and overall our communities here in New Mexico,” said Juntos Promotora Maria Peña, a 97-year-old participant in EJ Day. “For me, it’s important to be here today because I want to make sure my grandchildren and all of my children do not suffer environmental racism. I want them to learn how to come up here and advocate for themselves. As a grandma, this was my first time and I want my children to come up here and learn to speak to their leaders for themselves.”

“I’m especially glad we got to bring all the moms and youth with us today. I had others teach me how to do this and before that I didn’t know what was going on. I was excited that I was the person that they were asking questions to and I want them to be able to do that for their communities,” said Diana Salcido, Juntos Youth Organizer. “Our families want this, otherwise they wouldn’t be here doing the work. They are the leaders in the community and they get to build leadership in others.”

“I came here today because environmental justice is good for everyone’s health,” said Yahaira Delfin, Juntos Promotor. “I really like that Senator Linda Lopez received us and talked with us about our concerns and hopes.”

Speakers during the Environmental Justice Day press conference at noon included Carmen Quintana, founder of La Herencia en Santa Fe, State Representative for District 35 Angelica Rubio, Southwest Organizing Project’s Juan Reynosa, New Energy Economy’s Jessica Montoya, Santa Fe City Councilor for District 2 Joseph Maestas, Juntos Mother Promotora Marilu Ugalde, Juntos Youth Promotor and Canvasser Sergio Granados and NM Wildlife Federation Executive Director Garrett VeneKlasen, who read a letter from Gabe Vasquez, NMWF’s Southern NM Outreach Coordinator. Juntos Organizers Abril and Martha Favela served as Masters of Ceremony in English and Spanish.

Juntos will also be on KUNM’s show Espejos de Azatlan at 7 pm, Monday, March 13 to hear from Juntos Leaders Sergio Granados and Hermelinda Perea while they discuss their work organizing in community and engaging with their decision makers at the NM Legislature.

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Contact: Liliana Castillo at 505-992-8683 or liliana@cvnm.org