The story of why I recently moved to New Mexico from LA might sound familiar. The state’s reputation for natural beauty, its rich culture, amazing food, friendly populace and the famously salutary air were enough to sell me, but, of course, I also happened to be fleeing what felt like a wildfire-ravaged hellscape on top of the whole global pandemic thing.
When I arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief – I felt safe and welcome immediately. But then the sobering reality set in that New Mexico is not immune to what’s ailing the rest of the Southwest, with the recent wildfires in southern Arizona and the resulting shroud of smoke that enveloped our state being just one relevant example.
In the short time I’ve lived here, I’ve fallen even more in love with the state and its people, and I want to fight to preserve what makes New Mexico so incredibly, well, enchanting. And I believe there’s a tactic available to us that might offer a glimmer of hope and appeal to ALL New Mexicans who value not only those qualities that draw tourists here, but also rely on all the other industries that sustain us.
We need to support putting a price on the carbon released through the burning of fossil fuels, coupled with a resulting dividend that gets distributed to all Americans, each month, with no strings attached.
There’s a bill working its way through Congress that aims to do just that – it’s called the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. Millions of lives could be saved with this market-driven approach by making it ultimately less profitable for companies to pollute our air and, yes, contribute to the warming of our planet, which is already playing out dramatically in the form of droughts that decimate our crops and contribute to the wildfires that taint our air, mar our landscape and put our neighbors’ lives at risk.
At the same time, no one wants to leave New Mexicans whose livelihoods depend on the oil and gas industry in the lurch. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act is geared toward creating new jobs in the rapidly expanding clean energy sector. It grows our economy – not the government.
An increasing reliance on clean energy is looking likely, so those of us not at the helm of giant corporations can either benefit immediately through this dividend and the new jobs created, or we can watch from the sidelines as only the captains of industry reap the rewards. Or, worse, we could continue further down this dangerous, short-sighted path we’ve been on.
So join me in calling for our local, state and national leaders, in the business community, in our churches and temples, in our government, to support the fight for a carbon fee and dividend via the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
It’s logical, it’s bipartisan and it’s good for all New Mexicans, new and native, present and future.
Shaw Bowman lives in Santa Fe.