News from the Session: State Deserves Kudos on Earth Day

From: Op-Ed, The Santa Fe New Mexican
By: Rep. Brian Egolf and Sen. Peter Wirth
Date: 4/19/2009

On Wednesday we celebrate Earth Day, a day to reflect on the important role the environment plays in our lives and the important role we play in our environment. All people who care about our natural environment — from outdoorsmen to activists — come together to support preservation of the special places we love in nature and our collective effort to find more responsible ways of living on our planet.

It is indisputable that we have a major effect on our environment. It is also indisputable that the choices we make both individually and as a society have enormous impacts across a staggeringly complex range of natural systems that impact every aspect of life on Earth. Let us take this day to acknowledge the positive steps we have taken and the challenges that lie ahead.

New Mexico has become a leader in renewable energy and green jobs. Our home state is literally at the forefront of a global revolution in the way we create and consume energy, and though we are collectively only a small percentage of the world's population, we are making a big difference through our leadership on these issues.

For the past several months, you have read in these pages about the important legislation passed during the 2009 legislative session that removes the upfront cost of renewable-energy installations, gives meaningful tax incentives to encourage renewable energy, provides robust financial support for the training of workers to start in "green-collar" jobs, and encourages research and development in new energy technologies.

What may not be clear from the articles is that these new laws, while important individually, are incredibly meaningful collectively. The new reality here in New Mexico is that renewable energy and green jobs have become mainstream policy goals with broad public and private support. And, most importantly, protecting the environment is now making bottom-line economic sense.

New Mexico is setting a powerful example for our neighboring states, the federal government and other nations. The example shows not only that these policy initiatives are popular with voters, but that the initiatives are achievable and will produce quantifiable results for the citizens and the environment. This is the contribution we, as a state, can make to the global energy revolution. No better contribution can be made than to produce real results through voluntary and cost-effective programs such as the ones we have enacted during this legislative session.

So as we take time to reflect this Earth Day, let's celebrate with a hike in the mountains or an afternoon bike ride with our kids. Then let's sit down around our respective kitchen tables and map out our own individual plan for the coming years.

Whether it's eliminating an electric bill by installing new solar panels, adding new insulation to our house, or simply installing power strips to turn off appliances at night, collectively we are all part of the solution we seek.

State Sen. Peter Wirth represents District 25 and is a Santa Fe lawyer. State Rep. Brian Egolf represents District 47 and also is a Santa Fe lawyer with a water and natural-resources practice.
To view orginal article in the Santa Fe New Mexican, click here.

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