COMMENTARY: Government should keep our workers, communities and environment safe. But under Gov. Martinez’s watch that hasn’t been the case.
Did you know that the Martinez Administration created a fictitious oil and gas safety inspector, allowing almost 500 new oil and gas wells to skip inspections? These sites were allowed to receive electricity without the legally required inspection, putting workers, the surrounding environment, and communities in grave danger. When the Albuquerque Journal uncovered it and forced the state to do real inspections, 85 percent of these sites failed inspection.
Such inspections, for example, ensure oil and gas workers, many of whom are immigrants, can do their job without having to fear severe injury or even death.
Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund has joined the Put New Mexico First campaign, which focuses on these egregious lapses under the Martinez Administration.
We all want what’s best for our families, and Gov. Martinez campaigned on a promise to run New Mexico differently.
If actions speak louder than words, then Gov. Martinez has been shouting her priorities at us since entering the governor’s mansion. Her loyalties lie with her corporate campaign donors, not New Mexican workers and their families. She’s demonstrated that she is willing to apply pressure on decision-makers across the board to get her donors whatever they want – be it a lax copper mine water rule, preventing New Mexicans from pursuing environmental enforcement when the state fails to do its job, ignoring safety inspections in order to fast-track oil and gas drilling, or putting out-of-state profits over workers. New Mexico deserves better.
When we elect public officials, we trust them to make sure our public resources work for us by protecting our interests now and for our future.
Recent polling by Common Cause tells us what many of us already know: Nearly 80 percent of New Mexicans believe that corruption is a problem and campaign donors have too much influence over elected officials. And 6-in-10 business leaders think elected officials are more responsive to donors than voters they are elected to represent.
New Mexicans had high hopes for Susana Martinez, but she continues to let the public down. We acknowledge that the oil and gas industry provides much needed jobs to many communities that have few other choices. It does not, however, come without its negative impacts to the safety of workers, the environment, and even our economy. Neither does its impact on our budget or economy warrant special treatment to the point of breaking the law – while also putting workers lives and safety on the line.
It is dangerous and irresponsible to sacrifice our environment, health and the safety of workers for the sake of one industry right now. Our families shouldn’t have to choose between their health and a job. Workers shouldn’t have to needlessly risk their lives to provide for their families. We expect our leaders to think long-term and put working families, a healthy environment, and a stable economy first.
To be sure, Gov. Martinez’ staff will probably pull out their favorite line about the administration “collecting more fines from polluters than any administration in state history,” which of course sounds admirable. When you look into it though, there were 3,600 violations by the oil and gas industry between 2010 and 2013 but not a single fine was collected.
The goal of the Put New Mexico First campaign is to shine a light on how policy is really made in New Mexico – how it impacts people, our health, our livelihoods. Together we must adopt a vision for our energy future that is developed by the people. If our leaders truly care about creating a healthier New Mexico for all, they need to demonstrate their commitment to change by working with communities to develop solutions. The first step is to listen.
New Mexico deserves better. Join us in telling Gov. Martinez to put New Mexico first by visiting putnewmexicofirst.org.