As Chairman of the Questa Economic Development Fund, former Mayor of the Village of Questa, and a long-time business owner in my community, I have witnessed firsthand periods of local economic growth and decline. I have also helped to address some of the economic challenges that have confronted our community here in rural New Mexico. From the permanent closure of the Questa Mine to the unwillingness of the Office of the State Engineer to approve the transfer of valid local water rights, to the constant outflow of many of our most talented and industrious youth, we have faced challenge after challenge to our economic future with perseverance and optimism.
It is with that same spirit and determination that I call on the attention of our state legislators and all my fellow citizens in Taos County and the State of New Mexico. The “Green Amendment” as introduced in our state legislature as House Bill HJR4 and Senate Bill SJR6 would be immensely destructive to both our local and state economies.
While it proposes to enshrine in the New Mexico Constitution a right “to clean and healthy air, water, soil and environment,” it will, in fact, through it’s overbroad and undefined language enable abuse of our court system to halt any type of economic development project, especially those involving any type of construction and that require permitting and regulation by local, county, and state government.
Have you heard the term “NIMBY”? It’s an acronym for “NOT IN MY BACKYARD.” This badly written bill would enable anyone to oppose a project they disagree with on the most spurious of grounds. You want to building a solar farm on your land but some folks think it will reduce habitat for the local fauna?Good luck. You want to buy land and build a ranch but a neighbor is concerned about your cattle methane emissions? Good luck.
These aren’t insignificant questions. We at the Questa Economic Development Fund have been working many years on local projects that are now in jeopardy. These include completion of a recreational trail linking Questa to Red River, river and trout habitat restoration, expansion of the Questa Business Park, promotion of local agriculture, and the exploration of clean hydrogen production using local water resources and solar power. This all may sound ironic. It is. The Green Amendment would actually inhibit the transition of New Mexico to a new energy economy based on lower carbon emissions.
Environmentally, the Green Amendment runs contrary to energy diversification. Economically, it will destroy communities like Questa, a Village that is only now starting to make progress with increased job creation and tax revenue based on a post-mining economy and sound local environmental stewardship.
For the sake of Questa and communities throughout New Mexico, please voice your opposition to the “Green Amendment.”