Settlement ends controversial “three strikes” rule, gives lobos huge boost

November 17, 2009

Mark Westbrock of Positive Energy, Inc., speaks at a press conference on clean energy while City Councilor Nathan Small and Jake Horowitz of Environment New Mexico look on.

By Steve Klinger

A New Mexico non-profit and a startup solar energy firm joined forces with a Las Cruces city councilor to announce a new report showing New Mexico’s carbon dioxide emissions have increased substantially since 1990.

Jake Horowitz of Environment New Mexico coordinated a Las Cruces press conference while his ENM counterparts hosted similar events in Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque. Horowitz said the new report indicates New Mexico’s global warming pollution increased by 12 percent since 1990, according to a new analysis of government data.

“More pollution than ever before isn’t a record we want to set,” Horowitz, the Mountain West Field Associate with Environment New Mexico, said. “It’s time to take back control of our energy future. By harnessing the power of the wind and the sun, we can cut pollution and transition to clean energy sources that don’t harm the environment, never run out, and create new, local jobs,” he continued.

Horowitz said the largest portion of the CO2 emissions was from electricity generation, 52.9 percent, mostly from coal-fired plants. “The state is heavily reliant on coal, the dirtiest of all fuels,” he said. “In fact, carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal jumped 7.7 percent from 1990 to 2007, as the New Mexico met increases in electricity demand with an even greater use of dirty power. Until New Mexico diversifies its electricity sources to include cleaner sources of energy, like wind and solar power, increases in electricity demand will continue to increase pollution from dirty power plants.”

Nationally, carbon emissions increased 19 percent in the same period, mostly from increased use of vehicles, but one third of the states cut their emissions between 2004 and 2007, according to Horowitz.

“We can drive the economy without driving up pollution,” Horowitz said, “but we must pass S.1733: Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.” The House of Representatives passed an energy bill last spring but the Senate version is currently stalled in that body.

Las Cruces District 4 Councilor Nathan Small, in whose district the press conference was held, said the community is at a crossroads where it can choose growth in pollution, which is negative growth, or else a path toward renewable energy development that “will lead to a better world, and a better bottom line.”

Saying local solutions only go so far, Small called for “strong, decisive national action,” adding that Senators Bingaman and Udall will be key legislators in a renewable energy effort. Meanwhile local efforts have included the recent hiring by the city of a fulltime sustainability officer, a long-term lease with a solar energy company at the West Mesa Industrial Park and a project to provide high school students with on-the-job training in renewable energy development fields.

Mark Westbrock, photovoltaic system designer and installer, as well as manager of the Las Cruces office of Positive Energy, Inc., where the press conference was held, described how his company is a prime example of a New Mexico renewable energy startup that is providing clean-energy jobs at the same time it is offering home owners a means of saving on energy costs and reducing pollution.

When I started with PE in 2007,” Westbrock said,  “there were only four employees at our only location in Santa Fe.  In July of 2007 we opened our first branch office, right here in Las Cruces.  Positive Energy now employs 28 New Mexicans at our four locations in Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos.  That is a seven-fold increase in about three years.”

He added that Positive Energy is creating the kinds of jobs we want for our communities, and that being New Mexico-owned and employee-owned, the company’s profits stay in those communities.

“It is our hope that by encouraging the installation of more renewable energy systems, more companies with responsible business practices will spring up all over New Mexico,” Westbrock said.

Horowitz said the report, titled Too Much Pollution, uses the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy on fossil fuel consumption by state to look at trends in carbon dioxide emissions. The report recommends that the federal government build on the initial progress made by some states by passing strong clean energy legislation and adopting common sense EPA rules to cut pollution from aging coal plants and big smokestack industries.
Mark Westbrock of Positive Energy, Inc., speaks at a press conference on clean energy while City Councilor Nathan Small and Jake Horowitz of Environment New Mexico look on.

By Steve Klinger

A New Mexico non-profit and a startup solar energy firm joined forces with a Las Cruces city councilor to announce a new report showing New Mexico’s carbon dioxide emissions have increased substantially since 1990.

Jake Horowitz of Environment New Mexico coordinated a Las Cruces press conference while his ENM counterparts hosted similar events in Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque. Horowitz said the new report indicates New Mexico’s global warming pollution increased by 12 percent since 1990, according to a new analysis of government data.

“More pollution than ever before isn’t a record we want to set,” Horowitz, the Mountain West Field Associate with Environment New Mexico, said. “It’s time to take back control of our energy future. By harnessing the power of the wind and the sun, we can cut pollution and transition to clean energy sources that don’t harm the environment, never run out, and create new, local jobs,” he continued.

Horowitz said the largest portion of the CO2 emissions was from electricity generation, 52.9 percent, mostly from coal-fired plants. “The state is heavily reliant on coal, the dirtiest of all fuels,” he said. “In fact, carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal jumped 7.7 percent from 1990 to 2007, as the New Mexico met increases in electricity demand with an even greater use of dirty power. Until New Mexico diversifies its electricity sources to include cleaner sources of energy, like wind and solar power, increases in electricity demand will continue to increase pollution from dirty power plants.”

Nationally, carbon emissions increased 19 percent in the same period, mostly from increased use of vehicles, but one third of the states cut their emissions between 2004 and 2007, according to Horowitz.

“We can drive the economy without driving up pollution,” Horowitz said, “but we must pass S.1733: Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.” The House of Representatives passed an energy bill last spring but the Senate version is currently stalled in that body.

Las Cruces District 4 Councilor Nathan Small, in whose district the press conference was held, said the community is at a crossroads where it can choose growth in pollution, which is negative growth, or else a path toward renewable energy development that “will lead to a better world, and a better bottom line.”

Saying local solutions only go so far, Small called for “strong, decisive national action,” adding that Senators Bingaman and Udall will be key legislators in a renewable energy effort. Meanwhile local efforts have included the recent hiring by the city of a fulltime sustainability officer, a long-term lease with a solar energy company at the West Mesa Industrial Park and a project to provide high school students with on-the-job training in renewable energy development fields.

Mark Westbrock, photovoltaic system designer and installer, as well as manager of the Las Cruces office of Positive Energy, Inc., where the press conference was held, described how his company is a prime example of a New Mexico renewable energy startup that is providing clean-energy jobs at the same time it is offering home owners a means of saving on energy costs and reducing pollution.

When I started with PE in 2007,” Westbrock said,  “there were only four employees at our only location in Santa Fe.  In July of 2007 we opened our first branch office, right here in Las Cruces.  Positive Energy now employs 28 New Mexicans at our four locations in Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos.  That is a seven-fold increase in about three years.”

He added that Positive Energy is creating the kinds of jobs we want for our communities, and that being New Mexico-owned and employee-owned, the company’s profits stay in those communities.

“It is our hope that by encouraging the installation of more renewable energy systems, more companies with responsible business practices will spring up all over New Mexico,” Westbrock said.

Horowitz said the report, titled Too Much Pollution, uses the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Energy on fossil fuel consumption by state to look at trends in carbon dioxide emissions. The report recommends that the federal government build on the initial progress made by some states by passing strong clean energy legislation and adopting common sense EPA rules to cut pollution from aging coal plants and big smokestack industries.
The Mexican gray wolf recovery effort took a huge turn for the better last week as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reclaimed its decision-making authority over management of this highly endangered animal that roams Arizona and New Mexico’s backcountry.
Settling a lawsuit brought by the Southwest Environmental Center and other conservation organizations, thumb
the Fish and Wildlife Service reasserted its authority over a multiagency management team and scrapped a controversial wolf “control” rule that required permanently removing a wolf from the wild, either lethally or through capture, after killing three livestock in a year. Conservationists had criticized the rigid policy, known as Standard Operating Procedure 13 or SOP 13, for forcing wolves to be killed or sent to captivity regardless of an individual wolf’s genetic importance, dependent pups or the critically low numbers of wolves in the wild.
At last count in January 2009, there were just 52 Mexican gray wolves and only two breeding pairs in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico. Another count will take place in January 2010.  Before reintroduction began in 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service had projected 102 wolves including 18 breeding pairs by the end of 2006, with numbers expected to rise thereafter.
For more information, go here. <http://www.mexicanwolves.org/index.php/news/64/51/Big-Boost-for-Mexican-Wolves>

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