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Heinrich endorses Green New Deal

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján had previously endorsed the Green New Deal. 

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich became the third member of the New Mexico congressional delegation to endorse the Green New Deal.

“I’ve spent my entire adult life working to protect some of the wildest public lands in New Mexico – places I truly love,” the Democratic senator said. “And I’ve seen them change in the face of a warming planet. I’ve spent decades working to build a renewable energy economy. But the progress that we’ve made simply hasn’t kept pace with the speed and the scale of the warming that threatens our very existence.”

Heinrich made his announcement Friday, on the same day students around the world were marching for action on climate change, including in Albuquerque as part of the New Mexico Youth Climate Strike. U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján endorsed the Green New Deal months ago.

Gabriella Radigan from Volcano Vista High School signs poster cards taken to U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich’s and Tom Udall’s offices during Friday’s youth climate strike. Heinrich praised the youth climate activists. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Heinrich said he was supporting the Green New Deal “because this rising generation of activists understands what we’re up against, and is willing to propose the kind of bold changes that equal the scale of that problem. Unlike previous generations who have delayed and denied climate change, I strongly believe that these young people are going to be the critical catalyst for solving this issue.”

The U.S. Senate earlier this year voted 57-0 against the Green New Deal resolution put on the floor by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who dismissed the deal as a “far-left science fiction novel.” Democrats, including Heinrich and fellow New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, labeled the vote as a political stunt. They voted present.

Heinrich challenged McConnell at the time to have a real debate on climate change on the Senate floor.

The Green New Deal says the world needs to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan calls for the launch of a “10-year mobilization” to reduce carbon emissions in the United States. It calls for an overhaul of the nation’s transportation system by investing in electric vehicles and high-speed rail.

Critics of the Green New Deal believe it would devastate fossil fuel industries – including the oil and gas industry, which is the top industry in New Mexico.

Power the Future, a conservative energy advocacy group, criticized Heinrich’s endorsement.

“The Green New Deal would be a disaster for New Mexico’s families costing each household nearly $72,000 in the first year alone,” Power The Future Western States Director Larry Behrens said. “When given the opportunity to vote for the Green New Deal, Senator Heinrich instead voted ‘present’ so it appears his newfound support has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with appeasing eco-left special political interests.”

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence assailed Green New Deal in recent visits to the state.

Trump claimed at Monday’s rally in Rio Rancho that under the Green New Deal Americans would have to do away with airplane travel, cows and cars, which has been a common criticism from Republicans.

Haaland dismissed such talk during a Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce forum earlier this year as “crazy talk.”

“I don’t think just because the Permian Basin and the San Juan Basin are producing lots of fossil fuel right now, that absolves us of our responsibility to pursue renewable energy in our state,” she said.

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