June 24, 2021 – Virtual PVA

Municipal Court update

Judge Joy Goldbaum reports that the Las Cruces Municipal Court has moved into City Hall, 700 N. Main St., room 2007-B, while the old Courthouse on E. Griggs is having work performed on its mal-functioning HVAC systems. The move is expected to last through the summer.  Any task you might have done at the old Courthouse can now be done at City Hall.  The phone numbers and e-filing are still the same.  

For more information, call the Court at 575-541-2224.

The lowdown on three City Council races

Campaign manager, Connie Chapman wanted to give us a quick update on the three Las Cruces City Council campaigns that she is working on:

District 3 – Becki Graham had a wonderful write up in the June 11th edition of the Las Cruces Bulletin https://www.lascrucesbulletin.com/ and can be reached at becki-graham.com, and followed on Facebook at @Becki Graham for Las Cruces City Council District 3.  

District 5 – Becky Corran, Pat & John Agurrie recently hosted a Meet & Greet at their home to introduce Becky to residents of District 5. It was great to be back in the company of so many like minded folks. Becky’s website is beckycorran.com and Facebook @corranforlc  Her interview with Mike Cook of The Bulletin is expected to be published this coming Friday, June 25th. 

District 6 – Yvonne Flores…. we’re working hard to KEEP Yvonne Flores working for District 6.  Her website will be yvonne-flores.com (finished product coming soon); Facebook will be updated and continue to be found @floresDistrict6.  As they say, watch this space for more information and opportunities to support Yvonne in the coming weeks.

For more information, contact Connie.

Huge thanks for CdP successful virtual auction

Eric Walkinshaw said, “On behalf of Casa de Peregrinos and as a CdP board member I would like to thank all PVA members who participated to our recent virtual auction that generated over $20K! Of course you can continue to support CdP by going to our website at casadeperegrinos.org Unfortunately, as the number of our Doña Ana community neighbors who experience hunger every day grow, we at CdP continue to need and appreciate your generous donations!”

For more information, contact Eric.

The ACA is the law of the land

Ann Gutierrez commented that the United States Supreme Court ruled on June 17, 2021 that the parties challenging the Affordable Care Act did not have standing to challenge the law. This leaves the law intact. As Xavier Becerra, the Secretary of Health and Human Services said today, “The ACA is the law of the land.“

It was a 7 to 2 decision with even Justice Thomas voting with the majority!

It’s important to celebrate our victories when they happen.

For more information, contact Ann.

New Energy Economy sounds alarm about PNM-Avangrid merger

Last month New Energy Economy informed us about the unfair and imbalanced PNM-Avangrid merger currently pending at the PRC. The Hearing Examiner has since ordered Avangrid to reveal details of any and all violations and sanctions imposed on the company by regulators in other states in the last five years, an order that resulted in more than 2500 pages  listing violations that total more than $60M in three states. These violations represent most importantly a failure by Avangrid to protect the public interest, protect public safety and comply with the law. 

Just last week a national regulatory agency imposed a fine of $360,000 against Avangrid for its failure to comply with reliability standards. In other states, where Avengrid’s rates are among the highest in the nation, brownouts and blackouts are commonplace, efforts to promote distributed renewable energy have been purposely stymied and customer satisfaction is ranked last among all utilities surveyed.  This raises alarming questions about what an Avangrid takeover in New Mexico will mean for electricity rates, reliability and a speedy transition to renewable energy. 

NEE contends that Avangrid is unfit to serve, and asks the public to contact the PRC or sign the petition being circulated by Citizens for Fair Rates and the Environment at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/the-pnm-avangrid-merger-must-benefit-the-people-of-new-mexico. We are also invited to join Mariel Nanasi, Vaughan Woodruff and William Dunn to hear first hand about Avangrid at a forum hosted by Retake Our Democracy on July 8th, 2021 at 6:30PM. Please RSVP here.

For more information contact NEE at info@newenergyeconomy.org.

Author offers books on Southern New Mexico history

Carlos Melendrez, who has long been involved in political, social justice and environmental movements in Southern New Mexico and elsewhere, and who is the author of “America Don’t You Know Me, I’m Your Native Son Geronimo: the Controversial Campaign to Repatriate the Remains of America’s Most Famous Warrior to His Homeland” announced his latest book of stories of Southern New Mexico’s early history, titled, “I Know Where the Bodies are Buried, There are Stories to Tell, Questions to Ask: True Exciting Stories of Southern New Mexico’s Early History! Unsung Tales of the Founding Family of Las Cruces.” 

For more information, contact Carlos.

Allen reports exciting news on El Paso Electric

There are several regulatory actions involving El Paso Electric (EPE) ongoing at the

Public Regulation Commission (PRC). EPE has:

  • Requested permission to abandon their oldest power plant (hearing set for 14 July).
  • Requested a variance to charge around $6 million of claimed extra February purchased power costs due to the February freeze, spread over 12 months. (Allen discussed this in March.)
  • Filed a Transportation Electrification Plan which proposes to offer rebates for electric vehicle charging equipment, a public outreach program, and rates that offer low cost electricity for charging during the early morning hours. (hearing set for 6 July). Allen discussed this last month.

But the big news is yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) decision on EPE’s rate case. EPE originally requested a New Mexico rate increase of $6,878,921. The final decision, modified by the Commission and adopted yesterday, will result in a rate DECREASE for New Mexico customers of a little more than the $3.3 million.  Active intervention in the case by the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County, and by local citizen intervenors Merrie Lee Soules and Philip Simpson, were very important factors in this result.

When next you talk with, or write to, the Mayor or a City Councilor, please thank them for their part in saving New Mexico rate payers around $11 million per year going forward. And don’t forget Merrie Lee’s battle cry – NO NEW FOSSIL FUEL GENERATION!

For more information, email Allen.

Alternatives to plastic

Mike Saunders wants to urge PVAers (and others) to refuse plastics – buy in glass or other material, and use reusable bags. We’re wearing it (polyesters, nylons etc.) brushing with it, drinking in/through it, INGESTING it (microplastics) every day. The oil companies are just LOVING IT!

For more information, contact Mike.

Prioritize bold housing policies in recovery package

Rich Renner reminded us that because of rising rents and stagnant wages, millions of families are paying more than half their earnings toward rent. Only 1 in 4 eligible renters is able to access federal housing assistance, and people of color are more likely to be cost-burdened renters.

Access to housing is critical for the well-being of families, yet millions struggle to keep a roof over their heads and meet basic needs. New Mexico had the highest increase in homelessness in the nation for 2018-2019. By expanding rental assistance to all eligible renters with guaranteed multi-year funding, as well as expanding the supply of affordable housing, we can stably house millions of families and start to undo the legacy of racial discrimination in housing.

Action: 

Rich asks that we contact our NM delegation and ask them to sign the Dear Colleague letter on Affordable Housing & Rental Assistance (House letter from Rep Ritchie Torres, and Senate letter from Sen Jeff Merkley) that calls for this expansion.  Here are the numbers:

Representative Yvette Herrell   202-225-2365  
Senator Martin Heinrich 202-224-5521      
Senator Ben Ray Lujan  202-224-6621  

More info at RESULTS.org, or contact Rich.  

Register Voters at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market

Stewart and Karena Oberman report that if you are a Voter Registration Agent (VRA) you can help with the Doña Ana County Summer 2021 drive to register new voters and help registered voters check their status and change their address, party, etc. This is a strictly non-partisan event, happening weekly at the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market around 105 N. Main St. (just north of Griggs) every Saturday morning from 9 am to 1 pm.  If you would like to help out, please click here for the sign up sheet. (If you are a VRA and haven’t been receiving notices of VRA opportunities, please let Stewart and Karena know.)

If you are NOT a VRA, you can call the Doña Ana County Bureau of Elections ((575) 647-7428) and schedule an appointment to become a VRA. The procedure is very easy and takes about 10-20 minutes. If you are unsure if you are a VRA, click here to check your status.

For more information, contact Stewart and Karena.

We gotta do something about the ozone

Antoinette Reyes, who works with Sierra Club, tells us that in the Fall of 2018, Sunland Park in Doña Ana County NM received a non-attainment designation for ozone (smog) pollution. The designation did not take into account how much of this pollution comes from nearby El Paso. In 2018, Sierra Club and others successfully sued the EPA for not also designating El Paso as non-attainment. The El Paso-Las Cruces area ranked 13th in the nation for high ozone days in the American Lung Association’s latest ranking released in April 2021.

The EPA is just now revisiting this issue and is proposing to expand the non-attainment area to include the El Paso region. Doing so would require new industrial facilities and possibly existing ones to have stronger air pollution controls, more air monitoring, and the state would need to create a plan to reduce ozone pollution in the future.

Why is this important? Nitrous Oxide (NOx) turns into ozone pollution in the atmosphere. NOx exposure is associated with respiratory problems, heart disease, and negative birth outcomes. Ozone is harmful to breathe and it aggressively attacks lung tissue, according to the Lung Association. Aside from the health impacts,  NOx pollution is more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide. One of the facilities this designation would impact is the Newman Power plant, the biggest emitter of Nitrous Oxide in the region (Dona Ana and El Paso County) and El Paso Electric has plans to expand the facility in the years to come. Other facilities that would be impacted is the Marathon Petroleum oil refinery which is expected to renew their 10 year air permit soon. Time is of the essence, we need to encourage the EPA to act quickly and to show our support for expanding the non-attainment ozone designation.

What you can do? Submit comments to the EPA using our action alert here.

For more information, contact Antoinette.

Mark your calendars for the June 2022 PVA Party!

Cheryl Frank noted that this is a short recap, which is appropriate for June – traditionally, the month we celebrate with one another at the PVA party. We’re having to forego this fun time together, as the state isn’t fully opening up until July 1. But next year, for sure! So, have a little party, on your own, in honor of PVA. We hope to see you in person real soon!

For more information, contact Cheryl.

PVA takes a break in July

Next PVA Meeting

August 26, 2021

In person or Virtual – TBD!

We will let you know!