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October 04, 2012

Thousands Call on New Mexico to Invest in Clean Energy

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Clean energy supporters in New Mexico have long been advocating for solutions that protect New Mexican families from coal pollution, save ratepayers money, and are conducive to job creation. This week they continued that drumbeat with a Wednesday rally where they delivered thousands of petition signatures to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez calling for a transition away from coal and to more clean energy.

A diverse alliance -- including the New Mexico Sierra Club -- is demanding the retirement of the San Juan Generating Station and investment in more clean energy. The San Juan coal plant is one of the oldest, dirtiest, and thus most damaging coal-burning power plants in the American West.

The state had announced to retire only two of the smaller coal plant’s boilers and leave the two larger ones in operation with weak and ineffective pollution controls. After having over two years to fashion a serious plan to determine the future of San Juan Generating Station, in effect what the state proposes would lock in PNM’s use of coal for decades to come.

The proposal to use weak pollution controls also does not fully meet public health safeguards and would allow units 3 and 4 -- which are the biggest and represent the majority of the plant's coal pollution -- to continue to imperil public health and the local environment.   

"We have tried to work with the state to develop a plan that meets the safeguards of the Clean Air Act and saves money," said Shrayas Jatkar, Organizing Representative for Sierra Club in New Mexico.

"Unfortunately, the state has instead made a premature announcement that does not fully address how we can clean up our air and reduce risks for ratepayers. It is well past time for the state to chart a path towards a strong transition from dirty coal to readily-available solar and wind energy, as well as energy efficiency to lower costs for consumers. It is well past time for PNM to transition its workforce to good clean energy jobs instead of continuing to put New Mexicans at risk with its use of coal."

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The Sierra Club is working with local clean energy supporters to transition to clean energy in New Mexico, including the New Mexico Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light, Organizers in the Land of Enchantment, 350.org New Mexico, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, McCune Solar Works LLC, Moms for the Environment, and New Energy Economy.

"Our culture is rooted in innovation," said Chuck McCune of McCune Solar Works LLC. "New Mexico has a history of solving problems in our labs, universities and our entrepreneurial endeavors. New Mexico can be the nationwide and world leader in responsible energy generation and usage. Renewable energy is good for jobs, homeland security, our food supply, our energy independence and our very prosperity. It is an act of patriotism to support widespread use of renewable energy."

Indeed, New Mexico also has plenty of room to grow when it comes to energy efficiency as well, coming in at 27th in the nation on the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's (ACEEE) State Scorecard

"Energy efficiency improvements help businesses, governments, and consumers meet their needs by using less energy, saving them money, driving investment across all sectors of the economy, creating much-needed jobs, and reducing environmental impacts," said ACEEE Director Steve Nadel.

Learn more about the push for clean energy in New Mexico.

Photos courtesy Shrayas Jatkar.

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