New Mexico Biodiesel Policy Summit scheduled for
Top New Mexico public officials, as well as educational, environmental,
and biodiesel industry leaders, will discuss challenges and strategies
for public policy and the development of environmentally-beneficial
biodiesel fuel in the state at the first annual New Mexico Biodiesel
Policy Summit, March 27-28, 2008, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in
Typically blended with petroleum diesel for use in diesel vehicles,
biodiesel is the fastest-growing alternative fuel in America. As
a renewable, clean-burning alternative fuel derived from select
natural plant oils, animal fats, or algae, biodiesel represents
a closed “carbon cycle,” meaning that after biodiesel
is burned, it is recycled by growing feedstock plants, which are
later processed into more biodiesel fuel.
“While our region’s climate is too arid for the production
of many agricultural products, some of the most important biodiesel
crops are well-suited to New Mexico’s high altitude, low moisture
levels, and high summer heat—making the potential for biodiesel
feedstock production enormous,” said New Mexico Secretary
of Agriculture Dr. I. Miley Gonzalez, a keynote speaker at the summit.
“Less than four percent of the 121,412 square miles that make
up our state are currently cultivated for biodiesel production.
Although we are geographically poised to capture this development
opportunity, New Mexico needs appropriate public policy to support
it. This summit will bring industry leaders and government partners
together to outline the path for New Mexico’s role in this
emerging green energy source.”
Invited keynote speakers include Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM),
Chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and New
Mexico Secretary Designate of Economic Development Fred Mondragon.
For more information and registration, contact Maria Zannes at
Conservation Voters group unveils legislative
Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) has created www.ProtectNM.org,
a public legislative tracking website which will empower citizens
and voters of New Mexico to make a difference in legislative measures
that have an environmental impact in the state.
allows users to track and act upon environmental legislation affecting
New Mexico’s air, land, water, wildlife, and quality of life.
Users are not only able to track legislation and view analysis on
each bill, but are also able to use the site to contact their elected
legislators, committees, and media outlets. The site also allows
users to be notified by email when new information is posted about
their targeted legislation, or to be notified by email when their
bills are scheduled for a hearing or acted upon by the legislature.
Other helpful features of the website include a glossary explaining
the inner workings of the New Mexico state legislative process,
detailed information about each legislator and the media outlets
specific to their legislative district, and information about legislators’
“conservation score” as calculated each year by Conservation
Voters New Mexico.
“Many important decisions that affect our air, land, and
water are made at the New Mexico state legislature in a way that
makes it difficult for the average citizen to find out what is going
on,” says Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of CVNM. “Our
hope is that this website will become a critical instrument empowering
New Mexicans to be a part of the environmental action going on at
Users can register to use the website at www.ProtectNM.org. The
site is a joint project of CVNM and the CVNM Education Fund. CVNM
works to protect New Mexico’s natural environment and make
sensible conservation policies a top priority for elected officials,
political candidates, and voters across the state. For more information,
contact Sandy Buffett at 270-5743.
Corporate profits don’t trickle down
—NEW MEXICO VOICES FOR CHILDREN
Corporate profits in New Mexico comprise a larger share of the
state’s economy than they do in most other states, yet wages
comprise a lower share. While the reasons behind this are unclear,
the result isn’t: lower wages can allow for higher profits
that go to what are mostly out-of-state shareholders.
That’s according to the “State of Working New Mexico:
2007” report, released in January 2008 by the nonprofit child
advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children. The annual report
is released in conjunction with the nationwide Economic Analysis
and Research Network (EARN).
“What this means is that we need a redistribution of income
in New Mexico,” said NM Voices’ Research Director and
report author Gerry Bradley. “More of these profits should
be shifted into salaries so fewer working New Mexicans live in poverty.”
In New Mexico, fifty percent of the gross domestic product goes
to compensate employees. The national average is fifty-seven percent.
If New Mexico’s distribution of income followed the national
average, employee compensation would be about $4.3 billion or twelve
The study also pointed to the lack of job opportunities, particularly
in the rural parts of our state, New Mexico’s prevalence of
low-paying jobs, and the unemployment rate among adults without
a high school diploma. These indicators are sure to worsen as the
country slides into the impending recession.
The complete report is available online at http://www.nmvoices.org/fiscalpolicyproject.htm.
Clovis community stops ethanol plant
—NM ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CENTER
In a victory for communities everywhere, three Clovis groups have
forced the giant ConAgra Trade Group to withdraw its application
for an air-quality permit for a proposed 110-million-gallon-per-year
ethanol plant that would have been sited near their residential
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,
the League of United Latin American Citizens, and Concerned Citizens
of Curry County represented the concerns of the predominately Hispanic,
African-American, and low-income residents of the neighborhoods
nearest the site of the proposed plant.
The groups were represented by the New Mexico Environmental Law
Center in an administrative appeal from a 2007 decision by the New
Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to issue an air permit for
the facility. The appeal was filed with the New Mexico Environmental
Clovis residents were concerned about the possible respiratory
illnesses that could result from the plant’s air emissions
and the diesel exhaust from thousands of delivery trucks and trains
annually, as well as other adverse impacts to their quality of life,
including noise, odor, traffic, and dust.
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center successfully argued that
ConAgra’s notice to the community about the actual location
of the plant had been substantially flawed, and therefore, the permit
was invalid. Based on the Law Center’s arguments, the New
Mexico Environmental Improvement Board reversed the NMED’s
decision to issue the permit and required NMED to conduct another
public hearing following proper notice.
ConAgra decided to withdraw its permit application for the ethanol
plant as they were facing this additional hearing, which may have
been followed by subsequent appeals.
The Law Center may seek to challenge ConAgra’s existing air
permit for its grain elevator, which was also obtained following
a misleading notice and which inflicts excessive levels of noise,
odor, and dust on nearby residents.
The mission of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center is to protect
New Mexico’s natural environment and communities through legal
and policy advocacy, and public education.
For more information, visit www.nmenvirolaw.org
New Mexico solar tax credits deadline extended
— JANE TABOR, ENERGY, MINERALS AND NATURAL RESOURCES
New Mexico homeowners and businesses that installed solar energy
systems during the year got an additional month to submit applications
for 2007 state tax credits. A certification process supports quality
assurance of solar systems and includes requirements for permitting,
licensed contractors, and code-compliant equipment. Many solar system
installers will assist with documenting the solar system’s
operation and the certification process.
New Mexico provides a tax credit of up to $9,000 for a solar energy
system installed between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2015,
in addition to the federal tax credit of up to $2,000. If two separate
systems are installed, such as solar photovoltaic electric and solar
thermal heating, state tax credits can be claimed for both systems,
up to a total of $18,000.
Thanks to action last year by Governor Richardson and the New Mexico
legislature, two additional solar incentives are available to make
it easier to utilize solar energy. The Solar Gross Receipts Tax
Exemption is now in effect, which can help reduce the upfront cost
at the time of purchase.
New Mexico’s long-standing Solar Rights Act, which established
the right to use solar energy as a property right, has been strengthened.
Retroactive to 1978, it is prohibited for cities and homeowners’
associations to establish covenants, codes, or restrictions that
forbid solar installations (with the exception of historic districts).
More homeowners can now utilize their right to an unobstructed line-of-sight
path to the sun. For more information about New Mexico’s solar
energy incentives, visit www.CleanEnergyNM.org.
National Forest Site Steward Program announces
spring training class
The Santa Fe National Forest Site Steward Program announced that
its spring training class will be held April 26 and 27 at the Museum
of Indian Arts and Culture on Museum Hill in Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) is responsible for managing
one of the largest collections of Heritage Resources in the U.S.
These include archaeological sites from many cultures and time periods,
plus historical sites remaining from the earliest occupation of
the region by Europeans. These resources are a legacy of the history
of this area and are treasured by both Native Americans and the
current multicultural population residing in the area. These resources
are threatened by natural and human actions, including vandalism
The SFNF Site Steward volunteers augment the resources of SFNF
staff. Site Stewards monitor cultural heritage resources, and assist
in identification and documentation. Site Stewards also serve as
spokespersons to the general public in fostering awareness of the
importance of preserving these resources. The chief objectives of
the Site Steward Program are to promote the preservation of prehistoric,
historic, archaeological, and paleontological sites in the SFNF;
to uphold all state and federal preservation laws; to support heritage
resource preservation activities; and to conduct all activities
in accordance with the SFNF Site Steward Manual and Code of Conduct.
Site Stewards are trained to make site visits in accordance with
site visitation guidelines. Pairs of stewards are assigned to one
of six areas within the SFNF and are expected to make site visits
at least monthly, weather permitting. Stewards are also provided
access to numerous educational opportunities sponsored by the program.
Affiliate Site Steward positions are also available for volunteers
who prefer to contribute by fulfilling important administrative
and communications roles.
To apply for Site Steward training, obtain an application at www.sfnfsitestewards.org
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications are due March 15, 2008, and must be mailed to PO Box
31943, Santa Fe, NM 87594-1943.
Majestic Merriam’s return to pueblo lands
—NATIONAL WILD TURKEY FEDERATION
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF)’s New Mexico state
chapter and its partners are celebrating the return of the Merriam’s
wild turkey to Pueblo lands in New Mexico.
More than sixty Merriam’s wild turkeys have been released
onto Santa Ana Pueblo land since 2004 as part of a trap-and-transfer
program between landowners in northeastern New Mexico and the Santa
The project has restored a native population of Merriam’s
wild turkeys to suitable habitat along the Middle Rio Grande Bosque,
and was funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)’s
Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. The neighboring Sandia Pueblo has
also received a grant and is researching the possibility of releasing
Merriam’s wild turkeys onto their land in the future.
Although there was some original concern early in this project
that the released Merriam’s turkeys might come in contact
with domesticated turkeys of unknown origin, Scott Lerich, NWTF’s
southwest regional biologist, noted that preventative measures are
“We are working with the public to educate them about the
negative issues associated with wild turkeys coming into contact
with domesticated turkeys,” said Lerich.
According to NWTF Senior Vice President of Conservation Programs
Dr. James Earl Kennamer, trap-and-transfer programs are necessary
because pen-raised turkeys quickly fall prey to predators because
they never learned survival skills from a wild hen.
“Simply put, landowners need to pay close attention to their
management practices if they want to improve turkey populations,”
said Kennamer. “The NWTF showcases these practices step-by-step
in Get in the Game magazine and television show and wildlife habitat
“At the dawn of the twentieth century, the wild turkey was
at the brink of extinction,” added Kennamer. “Thanks
to the work and support of hunters, wildlife agencies, and members
of the NWTF, the wild turkey has been restored to healthy populations.”
Joe Peña, a member of the Santa Ana Pueblo, was pleased
with the results of the Merriam’s project in the Land of Enchantment.
“The wild turkey plays a very important role in the Pueblo
culture,” said Peña. “It’s a great feeling
to see these birds roaming our lands once again.”