Lujan Grisham talks about San Juan Generating Station, recreational cannabis and Care Corps

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FARMINGTON — U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-NM, said there needs to be a transition plan to help create jobs in San Juan County that will replace the jobs lost when the San Juan Generating Station closes in 2022.

“You’ve got at least 1,500 people with no serious transition plan about what you do for their jobs,” she said.

Lujan Grisham is vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. Her campaign has taken her to communities across New Mexico. She said she has heard people across the state say that the coal miners and the generating station employees can be retrained to work in computer and software coding.

Lujan Grisham said during a meet and greet Friday at Identity Inc. in Farmington she thinks that proposal is not realistic.

She said the state needs to set renewable portfolio standards for all electric utilities during the 2019 legislative session. Lujan Grisham said San Juan County residents need to be trained in the renewable energy industries. She said the governor and lawmakers need to work with local elected officials to create a transition plan for the people employed by the San Juan Mine and San Juan Generating Station.

“I want to come in, set those standards and make this community the number one moving community in that design in the country,” she said.

Lujan Grisham highlighted San Juan College’s renewable energy program as part of that effort. She said the program is one of the leading places for education for renewable energy jobs in the country.

San Juan College cut its renewable energy program in 2015 citing low enrollment. The program was one of three degree programs that were cut. The other programs were the outdoor leadership, recreation and education degree and the machining degree.

While Lujan Grisham did not know the renewable energy program had been cut, an audience member told her about the decision.

Lujan Grisham said she would work to bring renewable energy back to the college.

“Let’s restore them to their full potential, because if you invest and identify that that’s where you’re headed, then that’s where you’re headed,” she said.

After her speech, Lujan Grisham said she supports implementing a program to provide coal miners and generating station employees with lost wages while they go through training for other careers.

Lujan Grisham talks about cannabis

“I brought medical cannabis to New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said.

She said she worked with the former Gov. Gary Johnson administration to try to legalize medical cannabis in New Mexico. While the law did not pass under the Johnson administration, former Gov. Bill Richardson signed it into law.

“I’m a huge proponent of medical cannabis,” she said.

Lujan Grisham said if she is elected governor she would sign a recreational cannabis bill into law if it included certain conditions.

“Recreational cannabis has a role in New Mexico,” she said.

One of the conditions she would require is that the bill provides protection for medical cannabis, which often has lower levels of THC than recreational cannabis. She said if medical cannabis is not protected it can become expensive to grow it.

Lujan Grisham said there should be studies into the work place issues regarding recreational cannabis and intoxication. She said the bill would need to include regulation of edibles.

“The other states got ahead of themselves and they’re having some trouble,” she said.

Lujan Grisham highlights Care Corps accomplishment

“Care Corps is an idea that would create a Peace Corps-like program in the United States for caregivers and caregiving,” she said.

Lujan Grisham proposed the program in 2014. She said funding for the program was secured in the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus Federal Spending Package that President Donald Trump signed in March.

Democratic candidate for governor will be decided during the primary election

Lujan Grisham is running against Jeff Apodaca and Joe Cervantes in the Democratic Party primary. The primary election will be June 5.

The winner of the primary election will likely face Republican candidate Steve Pearce. Pearce currently serves as a congressman.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

 

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