(Albuquerque, NM) — Today, Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund (CVNMEF) kicked-off Juntos: Our Air, Our Water. The new program focuses on engaging Latino families in Albuquerque to protect air and water in New Mexico from threats of contamination—and to advocate for clean energy as a solution. At their office opening today, the group announced their first campaign focusing on encouraging the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to reject a proposal from PNM, the state’s largest utility, that would invest in more dirty coal from the San Juan Generating Station and more dangerous nuclear energy, while making only minimal investments in renewable energy.
“Our goal is to form a new leadership base here at home in Albuquerque that represents the values of our community and our commitment to renewable energy, not only for our families but future generations,” explained Vicente Garcia, Juntos Program Director. “We have to protect our scarce water and the air we breathe from power companies that put their profits over our health and future. Our utility company continues to rely on coal-fired power plants that produce toxic air pollution that is harmful to our community and the waters we depend on, like the Rio Grande.”
The group highlighted a recent poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group for the League of Conservation Voters that reveals that 79% of Latinos in New Mexico are concerned about pollution and its impacts on water, air and health. They have good reason to be concerned. In their “State of the Air 2014” report, the American Lung Association gives Bernalillo County a failing grade for ozone pollution.
Only 8% of New Mexico’s energy comes from renewable sources like solar and wind. However, the polling shows that New Mexicans expect more from their state and utility. In New Mexico, 84% of Latinos want to require that their utility increase its use of clean energy, while roughly 7 of out 10 believe that clean energy will increase jobs, reduce pollution and improve public health.
Starting this week, Juntos organizers are fanning out across Albuquerque to talk with thousands of Latino families to build a strong volunteer base, train new grassroots leaders, and engage local officials.
“Latinos are deeply concerned about clean air and water in New Mexico,” says Demis Foster, CVNMEF Executive Director. “It’s time that our elected officials represent the community’s values and commitment to cleaner energy. We are ready to help utilities step up but also to hold them accountable if they don’t.”
The Public Regulation Commission is expected to hold public hearings on PNM’s proposal this fall and issue a decision early next year. “We have an opportunity to put New Mexico on the path to building a more sustainable economy that will keep our air clean, protect our water and provide long-term jobs. We’ve got to stop PNM’s insistence on dirty coal and nuclear energy and move New Mexico forward in a way that benefits all New Mexicans,” said Garcia.
Contact: Liliana Castillo at 575-219-9619 or Liliana@CVNM.org.