Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham touted New Mexico’s renewable energy potential during a prime-time speech to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, while also delivering an environmental broadside against President Donald Trump.
In a two-minute speech delivered live remotely from a solar array at the Northern New Mexico College campus in El Rito, the governor cited Trump’s rollback of regulations on oil and gas producers and elimination of certain environmental protections.
“We know time is running out to save our planet,” Lujan Grisham said. “We have the chance this November to end two existential crises: the Trump presidency and the environmental annihilation he represents.”
Since taking office in 2019, Lujan Grisham has pushed for renewable energy legislation – including the 2019 Energy Transition Act – and her administration has unveiled new rules and regulations to control emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
However, the governor also benefited, at least during her first year in office, from record state revenue surpluses generated by skyrocketing oil production levels in southeastern New Mexico.
Although the state’s oil production has slowed this year, New Mexico was the nation’s third-highest oil producer in 2019, behind Texas and North Dakota.
State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce criticized Lujan Grisham for ignoring the oil-powered windfall in her Wednesday evening remarks.
“I thought it was pretty insulting that she didn’t mention the oil and gas industry that delivers 40% of the state’s tax revenue,” Pearce told the Journal.
Lujan Grisham has been mentioned as a possible Cabinet secretary if Democrat Joe Biden wins the November presidential election. She was also vetted as a vice presidential pick before Biden ultimately selected U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate.
During her Wednesday speech, the governor also touted New Mexico’s multiculturalism and response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m proud of my home state every single day – especially how we have punched above our weight with our successful response to COVID-19,” Lujan Grisham said.
Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, questioned Wednesday whether those remarks were aimed at catching the attention of the Biden campaign.
He also mentioned recent rolling energy blackouts in California that have plunged parts of the state into darkness, saying renewable energy technology may not yet be capable of keeping up with consumer demand.
“You still have to have that reliability – we expect that as Americans,” Baldonado said.
Lujan Grisham issued an executive order shortly after taking office in 2019 that, among other things, directed New Mexico to join the U.S. Climate Alliance.
However, the governor has said she does not support a ban on fracking and has predicted that oil and natural gas companies will invest in green industries in the not-too-distant future.
State Democratic Party Chairwoman Marg Elliston said Wednesday that the governor is leading New Mexico toward a brighter future.
“She is a true leader who understands how to rebuild an economy, an education system, a health care system and position our state to lead on climate change and clean energy after years of failed Republican leadership,” Elliston said.
Meanwhile, several other New Mexico Democrats also played prominent roles in the four-day DNC, including U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland and state Rep. Shannon Pinto of Gallup participating in a forum on Native American issues and candidates.
In addition, state Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, officially conveyed New Mexico’s 46 delegate votes – four for Bernie Sanders and 42 for Joe Biden – during a Tuesday evening remote roll call of states.