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Rio Grande Foundation misuses data

On Feb. 6 the Albuquerque Journal published an opinion piece by Paige McKenzie of the Rio Grande Foundation that characterized the group as being distinctly non-partisan. A review of their website reveals the group is an extremely partisan, hard-right conservative/libertarian organization founded by Hal Stratton, a former Republican N.M. attorney general for. The group denigrates the Democratic Legislature of our state and warns about the perils of a “Blue Tsunami.”

The piece, “Plastic bag bans hurt more than they help,” railed against the proposed ordinance to ban the use of many plastic goods in Albuquerque. First of all, the author incorrectly cited a study by the Environmental Protection Agency downplaying the environmental impacts of plastic waste, because the EPA on its website merely provided a link to a Danish study that has nothing to do with our country. She conveniently forgot to mention the EPA’s own statistics that we use 380 billion plastic bags and wraps each year in the U.S. at the cost of 12 million barrels of oil to produce, while very little of this is recycled.

On the same day the Farmington Daily Times posted a letter, “Shift to renewables shouldn’t cost rate payers,” in which Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation warns about the dangers of following the advice of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, environmental groups and PNM to raise the renewable energy portfolio. He claims New Mexicans will have to pay an additional $2.3 billion dollars in energy bills. However, he does not reference an independent analysis of these economic effects, but instead cites figures by his own foundation. …

I appreciate the Albuquerque Journal and the Farmington Daily Times giving New Mexicans a forum to express their concerns. However, a person writing an opinion piece should tell the truth about the nature of the organization they are representing. I will be honest about my identity. I am Steve Clarke, Ward 4 leader for the San Juan Democratic Party. I am also one of the leaders for Indivisible San Juan, which is a Progressive advocacy group. In other capacities I have helped lead the non-partisan effort to create the Four Corners Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and Americans Together which brought Democrats, Republicans and Independents together to dialogue in a civil manner at San Juan College in Farmington. Hopefully we can make build on that positive spirit to create a New Mexico Americans Together. The partisanship of our times is corrosive to the good of our country.

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