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Governor urges Western colleagues to work together

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Tuesday that she hopes to promote more collaboration among states in the West on economic development, health care and tourism.

Lujan Grisham delivered her remarks to a meeting of the Western Governors’ Association in downtown Santa Fe.

She mentioned, as an example, the possibility of a rail line connecting historic Harvey House hotels in New Mexico and Arizona, with a stop near the Grand Canyon.

Behavioral health services – targeting opioid addiction or similar problems – could also benefit from cooperation among states, Lujan Grisham said, especially in the West, where the population is spread out and many live in rural areas.

States could work together, she said, by each specializing in a step in the recovery process. One state, for example, could handle in-patient detoxification, while another state offers transitional housing with counseling.

Lujan Grisham said she had at least one broad discussion with Colorado’s governor about collaboration on health care.

“There’s no state that hasn’t been ravaged by an opioid addiction problem and related addictions,” she said Tuesday.

Collaboration on health care and tourism, Lujan Grisham said, might also make it easier for Western states to work together on more troublesome topics, such as sharing water resources.

In her speech and later in a meeting with reporters, Lujan Grisham also pushed back against the notion that she must choose whether she’s on the side of environmental preservation or the oil and gas industry.

The governor pointed out that New Mexico is the third-largest oil producer in the country. The oil boom in the Permian Basin is a critical source of revenue for the state’s school system and other services.

Lujan Grisham said she is working with the oil and gas industry but also pushing for new regulations on methane emissions and promoting renewable energy to help combat climate change.

“I work for every single New Mexican, whether you’re in oil and gas or whether you’re in renewable energy – whether you’re Republican, independent or a Democrat,” Lujan Grisham said.

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