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Here’s a question: Which of the common sense environmental protections being considered in the New Mexico Legislature right now are corporations and their trade groups in favor of?

Take your time.

Here’s the answer: None.

And it’s always the same answer.

Should we stop the wholesale slaughter of exotic birds? No.

Should we stop clearcutting forests? Nope. Stop polluting rivers? Put seatbelts in cars? Require the capture of methane emissions? No, no, no.

So, when we think of asking state agencies to conduct an environmental review before plunging into potentially destructive and harmful development, we already know what the corporate/lobby guys are going to say… Oh, hell no.

Industry con-arguments to regulatory protections are always the same: It’ll kill jobs. They want to say it will kill executive bonuses, but it sounds better to say it will kill jobs.

Industry predictions are always the same: We’ll move out of state and never come back.
But that hasn’t happened, has it? Each law that has been passed despite those old loud threats has not ruined our economy. Most other states have much more stringent environmental laws than New Mexico and almost every other state’s economy is doing better than New Mexico’s. 

When you have as many grandchildren as I do, you understand that the most important thing we can do is ensure a healthy future for generations to come.

In its Feb.21 Editorial: “Project Review, Fracking Ban Means NM Closed for Business,” Albuquerque Journal editors buy wholesale the corporate/lobby PR campaign, put up a ‘Closed for Business’ billboard in their headline and then wrap up with the classic, yes, beauty is nice, but it’ll kill jobs so it’s not worth it.

Yet the Journal reports daily on destructive and harmful developments around our state that the commonsense protections in the Environmental Review Act seek to prevent: a subdivision in Hobbs built on an oil and gas waste site; a large underground gas plume in the South Valley threatening the Rio Grande and drinking water supplies; a gasoline additive polluting a water association’s only supply in Watrous; polluted water wells in Grants; the brine well disaster in Carlsbad; explosions and fuel escape in Las Cruces, and on and on.

Can the Journal editors not see the connection? The irony? Why even report those stories if not to spur lawmakers to do something to prevent more of them?

House Bill 206 is a carefully researched collaboration by sponsors Rep. Gail Chasey and Sen. Mimi Stewart that sets out a clear path to ensure that we don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again. That we learn from the past. That we recognize we are making New Mexico’s future right now.

In the end, I believe legislators will choose to stand up for commonsense protections to prevent destructive and harmful development; legislators will stand with the 74 percent of New Mexicans that support legislation like this. They will join the 18 other states, and the federal government doing same kind of careful analysis HB 206 calls for as we try to protect New Mexico’s citizens and lands from harm.

Don Schreiber has been a rancher and environmental advocate in Rio Arriba County for 20 years.

 

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