Grade: F

Although Susana Martinez ran for Governor claiming to be a moderate who shared the values of New Mexicans about the importance of safeguarding our water and natural resources, her record has proven otherwise.

In stark but accurate terms: Governor Martinez has repeatedly and aggressively championed polluting industries at the expense of the health and safety of New Mexicans.

It would be difficult to fully recount the litany of actions the Martinez administration has taken that jeopardize our air, land and water. But we’ll do our bast to highlight a few.

Water

In a water-scarce state, we simply can’t afford to risk contamination of any of our precious water. Susana Martinez doesn’t seem to care about that, as demonstrated by her decisions to:

  • Gut the “Pit Rule” that governed the management of dangerous waste from oil and gas operations. Now, New Mexico will be home to vast artificial lakes of toxic fracking fluids.
  • Weaken the “dairy rule” that protected groundwater from contamination by manure lagoons.
  • Allow copper mining companies wide latitude to pollute our groundwater, setting a legal precedent for other industries to do the same.
  • Vehemently oppose a bill that would have allowed the state to recover damages from polluters who contaminate groundwater.

Energy

Sadly, the story is the same when it comes to energy and climate. Martinez routinely chooses the private profits of corporate campaign contributors over clean air for our children to breathe, and tackling the climate change that is already exacerbating drought and devastating wildfires in New Mexico.

Among other actions, Martinez:

  • Repealed a rule that would have reduced New Mexico’s carbon pollution.
  • Reversed green building codes that would have required greater energy efficiency.
  • Opposed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to clean up the air surrounding San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant.
  • Nominated climate science denier Harrison Schmitt to be her Secretary of the Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department (He withdrew from the position after several weeks on the job).

Governance

The efforts of Governor Martinez to weaken environmental protections go far beyond rewriting rules and opposing common-sense legislation. They pervade every aspect of the culture and governance of environmental agencies. Some examples:

  • Scientific and technical expertise is shunned. Scientists who are the leading experts in their field are summarily re-assigned to departments with which they have little to no experience — leaving many agency functions without capable representation. Moreover, boards and commissions have been stripped of most of their technical expertise — replaced by political appointees with no education or experience in the issues they are regulating.
  • Willful disregard for the law. In addition to writing new rules that violate state environmental laws (for example, the “copper rules”), the Martinez administration has seen many of its decisions reversed by the courts, because of failure to comply with the law. One example is the unlawful decision by Martinez not to publish rules that she didn’t agree with — even though the rules were duly adopted before she took office. Another is her administration’s nasty habit of weakening or reversing rules without following the legal requirements to do so.
  • Enforcement is virtually non-existent. For a career prosecutor, one might imagine that Martinez might at least prove vigilant about enforcing existing laws. On the contrary, enforcement actions — such as fines and penalties for violations — are down dramatically from prior administrations. In some cases, where Martinez doesn’t like the law, the simplest solution is not to enforce it. Naturally, her administration then aggressively opposed a legislative measure that would have allowed New Mexicans to protect their health, safety and property by pursuing environmental enforcement when the state failed to do its job.

When it comes to safeguarding our air and water, it is difficult to imagine a governor with a more atrocious record than Susana Martinez. For most New Mexicans, protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink is paramount. For Martinez, those goals conflict with the profits of her corporate backers, and she’s made her choice: profits over people. Every time.

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One of the best ways to influence the voting records of your elected officials is to communicate regularly with them. If your legislators scored well, it’s important to thank them and to support them. If you feel you weren’t well-represented by your legislators’ votes, it’s important to hold them accountable by letting them know what you think about their votes. The Scorecard is your key to staying informed on your legislators votes and getting in touch with them.

Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators

Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.

The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.

Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.

The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts, as listed on the current Legislators page.

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