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Political-front groups play dirty with clean energy

Sen. Martin Heinrich

I was disappointed to see the Journal run a deeply problematic column April 1 by Mike Nasi. Nasi is the director of the deceptively named Life:Powered Initiative, a subsidiary of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an organization that is one of a growing number of political-front groups paid for by wealthy and self-interested fossil fuel donors like the Koch brothers.

We need to call out this type of disinformation campaign for what it is: a cynical attempt to stand in the way of the actions we must take as a state, as a nation, and as a global community to address the scientific reality of climate change.

I’m proud that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature just passed the Energy Transition Act to move our state’s electric grid toward a 100 percent carbon-free future over the next 25 years. With our incredible wind and solar resources, New Mexico is already becoming a national leader on clean energy. Our growing clean energy industry will create thousands of new jobs and pump billions of dollars of new private capital investment into our communities. New Mexico families will see economic benefits, cleaner air and water, and cheaper monthly energy bills.

The oil and coal-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation incorrectly claims that this transition to clean energy will hurt New Mexico families’ pocketbooks. The truth is that market forces and technological innovation have already reshaped the way we produce electricity. Wind, solar and energy storage projects are outcompeting fossil fuels. Over the last decade, consumers and electric utilities alike have found that clean energy is now more reliable and more cost-effective than traditional energy sources like coal. Prices will continue to drop as we see more advances stemming from research and development at places like New Mexico’s national labs.

The truth behind Nasi’s faultily explained examples actually reinforce this reality. Residents of Georgetown, Texas – which has moved to 100 percent renewable power by purchasing its power from the growing wind industry – are seeing massive savings in their electric bills. And the city is attracting businesses from around the country who want to run on clean energy. The same story is true here in New Mexico where Facebook chose to invest billions of dollars in its Los Lunas data center precisely because our state can provide economical, renewable electric power.

In Germany – the other place Nasi falsely claims is suffering because of a transition to clean energy – citizens are demanding their country take even bolder action to decarbonize their economy by moving away from expensive coal power plants and investing more – not less – in the clean energy infrastructure of the future.

We can and we must do the same. We shouldn’t resist change just for the sake of trying to hold on to the past. Consumers across the nation are demanding that their utilities seek cheaper and cleaner power sources. And climate science shows us how imperative it is for us to move away from carbon-based energy sources. These demands are going to keep growing regardless of how well or how quickly we position New Mexico and the United States to thrive in the new landscape.

It’s time to take bold action on the greatest challenge of our time. Climate change is a problem that will not go away just because we choose to ignore it. The good news is that our response to climate change represents New Mexico’s greatest prospect for economic growth in generations. We need to tune out the false stories being peddled by the likes of the Koch brothers and seize this opportunity.

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