The Southwest is a hotspot for warming: New Mexico and Arizona are near the top of the list of fastest-warming states, and our region is especially vulnerable to drought and heat extremes — risks that are expected to get worse with continued climate change.
Water is life. We have to protect our acequias, helping make them as efficient as possible in terms of water distribution and usage. We need to base future growth on known water table levels as well as anticipation of future droughts, and base potential restrictions on the best information and assessments we have. We must give priority to existing usage. We can’t sacrifice our current families and farmers for future vacation-home owners.
As I see it, the County’s job is to organize efforts to protect our community and its citizens in the face of climate change. We need to build resilience and adaptability by taking steps to engage and educate our community, as well as taking steps to reduce fossil fuels locally.
As your Commissioner, I would emphasize the need for full community participation in addressing the climate emergency. I would work to convene a Climate Action Forum with the goal of developing a county-wide climate action plan, including a plan for a just transition to sustainable energy. The Forum would involve diverse community members – especially the most vulnerable – in this planning process.
Because transportation contributes to about half of our greenhouse gas emissions, I would promote transition of County vehicle fleets to electric. I would also support Kit Carson Electric Cooperative’s (KCEC’s) strong efforts to transition to 100% renewable energy for day and night-time needs, including wind, and support the development of transmission infrastructure and energy generation for export. I would look at updating energy efficiency standards for buildings. And while I don’t have the solution to doing this right now, I would prioritize figuring out how to re-open our recycling center to accept plastic and glass…understanding that the issue is that there’s no stable market for many of our recyclables, so encouraging reducing and refusing has got to be a priority.
Finally, I would be a voice for what has already been done here at home. I would actively share our local success stories around the state and beyond, encouraging others to follow Taos County’s example with respect to renewable energy, a position achieved thanks to the vision and leadership of KCEC, as well as the work of the Town of Taos, UNM Taos, Renewable Taos, and others.