New Mexico congresspeople join call for climate change action in ongoing budget talks – Carlsbad Current Argus
New Mexico’s Democrat congresspeople were at the forefront of bicameral efforts to mitigate climate change, representing a state heavily dependent on fossil fuel extraction which many blame as a contributor to air pollution and subsequent impacts like global warming.
U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) joined a press conference Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol hosted by the League of Conservation Voters to advocate for legislation that would fund environmental efforts and address pollution.
Lujan said Democrats demanded a clean electricity standard, funding to plug abandoned oil and gas wells and regulations to reduce methane emissions be included in the upcoming budget resolution being debated in Congress.
“We all understand what’s happening across the country, and if you need to get a better look, if you’re not yet convinced, look out west. We’re seeing reservoirs that have record lows when it comes to water availability,” Lujan said.
“This is devastating. It’s hurting farmers, it’s hurting food production. It’s bringing more famine around the world. It’s a national security issue.”
Stansbury, the newest member of the House after assuming office in June following a special election to replace Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to represent the state’s First Congressional District said she was elected to ensure climate action was taken in Washington D.C.
She said New Mexico was already seeing dire impacts of pollution, as most of the state struggled under “extreme drought.”
“The science is clear. We need climate action now. The future of our communities depends on it,” Stansbury said. “Not just for the well-being of our country but the well-being of our planet. Our communities that have lived for thousands of years on the land are facing an uncertain future because of climate change.”
Tiernan Sittenfeld, vice president of government affairs at League of Conservation Voters said the U.S. must push for 100 percent “clean” or renewable energy “once and for all.”
“As our nation is rocked by devastating heat, fires, drought, storms, floods, longstanding environmental and racial injustice and economic inequality it has never been more important or more urgent that we act on the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice require,” she said.
“Fortunately, President Biden and VP Harris and their incredible administration have put forward plans to do just that through Build Back Better and the American jobs plan.”
Democrat leaders demand climate investments
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she hoped Democrats climate goals would be included in the budget reconciliation bill being debated in Congress, calling for investments in climate change initiatives.
“It is an imperative that we get this job done and we fully intend to do it for the children, for the planet and for the future,” Pelosi said. “We’re in a good place to reach the goals that were set out that were hopefully in the reconciliation very soon.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Congress must take action through both infrastructure and jobs legislation to address pollution and reduce the impacts of climate change.
He said the senate will make its largest investments ever to tackle climate crisis through jobs and infrastructure legislation.
Schumer pointed to increasingly damaging fires, heatwaves and floods as the ongoing impacts of inaction on climate change. He said as Senate majority leader he will block passage of any infrastructure package that does not reduce carbon pollution at a scale Schumer said would significantly impact climate change impacts.
He voiced support of initiatives like the Civilian Climate Corps, an initiative to create government jobs aimed at mitigating climate change and said any new infrastructure legislation must reduce carbon emissions from industries like oil and gas extraction.
“We’re going to look back on this moment as a pivotal moment in the world fight against the climate crisis. What we can do in the next few months in terms of big bold action is like nothing the nation and this world have ever seen before,” Schumer said. “This is a unique opportunity. We are surrounded by evidence of climate crisis. There’s just so much that we have to get done.”
He said lawmakers who deny the need to address climate change were beholden to industries that put profits above the environment and human health.
“It is only the people with their head in the sand or some of our republican colleagues who are in the palm of the oil, gas and coal industry who don’t realize it or who don’t want to realize it,” Schumer said. “The rest of the world and the rest of the country does.”
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, firstname.lastname@example.org or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.