Community members met with legislators on key pieces of legislation
On Monday, over 40 New Mexicans from communities in McKinley, Rio Arriba and Bernalillo counties joined Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund for Environmental Justice Citizen Advocacy Day at the New Mexico Legislature. Environmental Justice Day serves as a way to connect local work and voices with state decision-makers as they vote on critical legislation.
Policies passed during our state’s legislative session can have a big impact on our environment, health and community well-being. Across New Mexico, communities, especially rural and communities of color, have been heavily impacted by pollution and extractive industry. Families from these communities are working together to develop new solutions and organize to protect the wellbeing of their families and build a healthy future.
“I live in one of the areas of town most disproportionately impacted by environmental racism and disparities, in the South Valley. I am here today because it is time of youth, families, and communities of color to be a part of seeking positive change,” shared Mitzy Duran, a youth organizer and Promotor with CVNM Education Fund’s program Juntos: Our Air, Our Water during a presentation in the Rotunda. “I’m here today for the 1 in 11 children and students in New Mexico who suffer from asthma due to pollutants, I’m here for those who constantly take care of mother earth, but could not get time off from work to be here. I am here for those of us, and I include myself, that can’t go every six months to get a new inhaler because we can’t afford it. But most importantly I’m here because we have a problem and we have to solve it addressing the core causes of climate change and its effects, and to make that change we need everyone.”
Presentation speakers included:
- Ms. Edith Hood, Diné, Red Water Pond Road Association
- Mitzy Duran, Juntos
- Ms. Rebecca Touchin, Laguna Pueblo, NADCNM Secretary
- Mr. Ramón Dorado, Juntos & Corimi
- Ms. Annie Benally, Diné, Red Water Pond Road Association
- Ms. Kathy Sanchez, Tewa Women United
- Ms. Celerah Hewes, Moms Clean Air Force
- Rep. Melanie Stansbury, House District 28
Benally lives in Church Rock, New Mexico on Red Water Pond Road, which is feet from multiple uranium mines that have not been remediated since they closed in the 1980s. In 1979, the largest release of radioactive material in the U.S. happened near Church Rock.
“This was a tragic time in all the lives of the families that were associated with this spill. There are cancers, various types of illnesses and many homes left with no fathers to support their families,” Benally shared during Environmental Justice Day. “As a mother and grandmother, I will continue to advocate for my children, grandchildren and community so that we all may be able to enjoy a contamination free home where we can have the simple opportunity to live, learn and enjoy the gifts of Mother Earth.”
After a presentation in the Rotunda, community members discussed key bills and prepared to share their stories and advocate for the bills with their legislators. Community members met with legislators to urge their support of key pieces of legislation such as Community Solar (HB 210), Outdoors Recreation and Equity Fund (SB 462), Workforce Development (HB 547) and Energy Transition Act (SB 489).
CVNM Education Fund is engaging the people of New Mexico in our long-standing shared values of protecting our air, land, water and the health of our communities. We do this by mobilizing people to advocate on policy, enhancing the voting process, encouraging people to vote, cultivating conservation leaders and amplifying the voices of those most affected.