A vision for a world-class economy in NM

Marty Chávez

Marty Chávez

New Mexico’s future lies in leading the nation toward a 21st Century clean-energy economy.

“Instead of taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s never been more profitable, we should be using that money to double-down on investments in clean-energy technologies that have never been more promising – investments in wind power and solar power and biofuels; investments in fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and energy-efficient homes and buildings.” -President Barack Obama, March 29

President Obama has once again called for a sensible and comprehensive energy strategy for our nation, and his words have never rung more true.

New Mexico possesses the intellect, technology and natural resources to be a world leader in creating jobs around sustainable innovation, energy production and wealth generation.

As our children are confronted by the new realities of a global economy, we can’t afford to see the world in yesterday’s terms. At the end of World War II, only the United States had a functioning modern economy, but by the end of the Cold War, we had been competitively joined by Europe and Japan.

Today, it is increasingly clear that Russia, China, Brazil, India and other emerging economies have arrived and are going after the same scarce natural resources, ready to partake in the benefits of a modern consumer-and-manufacture based economy.

Our children must now compete in a hyper-connected world shaped not only by tremendous interdependent economies, but by diminishing traditional natural resources and tumultuous social change.

Simply, the solutions of the past will not solve the problems of the future.

Time for a bolder and more aggressive vision

Few places on earth are endowed with such a rich history of cultural diversity and environmental beauty, and few have such incredible resources as New Mexico. But this alone will not carry us successfully into the future. We must never forget our heritage and our inextricable link to the earth around us that informs and shapes our New Mexico values, but it is now time to cast a bolder and more aggressive vision of how New Mexico can prosper in the future.

In Central New Mexico alone, we have an incredible array of assets that will serve as a launch pad for our new economy, including the highest number of PhDs per capita of any state in America.

Sandia Laboratories is a world-class center for innovation; the University of New Mexico has great schools of engineering, anthropology, archeology and international studies; Intel is a great corporate citizen and local job creator; and New Mexico has extraordinary natural resources, including bountiful sun, wind and natural gas.


As your representative, I will forge a strong bond between our congressional delegation, state and local leaders, educational systems, as well as business and labor interests to craft legislation that utilizes our natural and high-tech resources to promote sustainable, long-term wealth and job creation in New Mexico’s clean energy economy.

The plan

New Mexico’s future lies in leading the nation toward a 21st Century clean-energy economy. To reach these goals, we must put a focus on large-scale ingenuity and innovation.

To claim our leadership role we must:

  • Retool a portion of the mission of our national labs to fit comfortably within the goal of commercializing energy independence and other new technologies, and expand the close relationship with Sandia Science and Tech Park to take advantage of technology transfer.
  • Better integrate our intellectual infrastructure into public schools and our charter-school system by establishing sustainability and clean-energy programs in our high schools and job-training programs with local universities and colleges, in partnership with the laboratories, to better prepare our children to lead in these fields.
  • Dramatically reform how we regulate our energy production and distribution in New Mexico by providing incentives for producing clean energy through the tax code as well as streamlining the processes for awarding public grants and loans.
  • Engage private investors to ensure that innovation and creativity in clean-energy technology development does not subside as funding from the stimulus package and other tax-based incentives expire.
  • Emulate in practice the technologies we strive to implement and attract through best practices in governmental activity by integrating sustainability goals into the procurement process, requiring that all new vehicle purchases meet strict environmental standards and putting our money where our mouth is by retrofitting public buildings with energy and water saving systems.
  • Expand and promote Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs for commercial and residential buildings. By spreading out the up-front costs of retrofitting existing structures to use energy more efficiently, and ensuring that current and future property owners are treated fairly, PACE is an important tool as we expand energy saving systems at the local level. PACE allows homeowners and businesses to take control of their own energy use and be proactive in contributing to the creation of local clean-energy jobs.
  • Increase investments in modernizing our electricity grids with a focus on smart-grid and micro-grid technology to improve efficiency, reliability and security in transmission and distribution of power through targeted loans and grants centered around renewables. As with similar clean-energy investments made through the Recovery Act, we must engage private investors to continue the funding streams as those incentives expire.
  • Work with our national laboratories and universities to support the development of “Green Grid,” a smart network that will allow renewable energy and energy efficiency to play larger roles on our electrical grid. In addition to commercialization of renewable technology, the decentralization of a green grid allows greater access to the market, which stimulates innovation and creates jobs quickly during initial construction. For my efforts as mayor promoting smart grids, the Association of Energy Engineers named me the national renewable energy innovator of the year.
  • Support innovation in the development of low-cost, high-efficiency biofuel technologies. Central New Mexico already has companies on the ground working in this field, including Incitor, a local startup that has created a process to economically convert virtually any biomass into gasoline, jet fuel or diesel. That’s exactly the kind of advanced, forward-looking thinking that is going to propel New Mexico’s clean energy economy.
  • Recognize the importance of natural gas as an essential bridge fuel to a renewable energy future and a huge opportunity for New Mexico to create good-paying jobs. I stand with the president in his desire to harness the energy that lies both beneath us and above us. But I want to be clear. I am opposed to drilling or energy exploitation on Otero Mesa. We can access ample deposits of natural gas elsewhere without harming our pristine natural environment.
  • Finally, we must respect our natural environment – sustainable economic development is not an enemy of the environment; rather, it is an indispensable ally.

The vision and the will

I stand with President Obama on the plans he articulated for energy during his State of the Union Address. Under his plan, the Department of Defense will acquire enough clean energy to power 1/4 million homes a year and allow non-threatened public lands to be developed for clean energy to power 3 million homes.

It has been said that all energy is a calculated risk – and the president is right when he says we shouldn’t reject any available energy strategy without first understanding its benefits and risks. Los Alamos National Laboratories is one of the leaders in battery technology that can move us toward energy independence.

And we shouldn’t leave out the tremendous amount of expertise that New Mexico possesses on nuclear power. I don’t know if it will be the final answer, but I do know that it is carbon-neutral and that countries like France with very limited natural-energy resources have been energy independent for decades.

Along with natural gas and nuclear energy, the potential applications of geothermal power and associated technologies should be fully explored as we now have the ability to map, measure and tap this emerging energy source.

New Mexico can be a global leader in energy innovation. We have the assets, but have historically lacked the vision and the will. I intend to be a congressman who works tirelessly to address the short-term challenges we confront as a nation but always within the context of the long-term goal of world-class jobs in my hometown and the First Congressional District.

Why we can succeed

Throughout my career, when I set out to accomplish something on behalf of New Mexican families, I got the results they needed. I am the only candidate in this race who has actually helped create meaningful green jobs in this district. I worked tirelessly to bring innovative solar companies like Schott Solar to Albuquerque, expand Emcore and K-Tech’s local operations and attract the film industry with Albuquerque Studios. Plainly, I am the best-prepared candidate to lead in our clean-energy economy.

One of the best examples of combining our district’s unique resources to benefit the greater community is the Sandia Science and Technology Park (SS&TP). In helping to create what has become a sought-after destination for companies, scientists and researchers involved in advancing new technologies, we envisioned a place where our region’s economy will grow alongside the National Labs and Kirtland Air Force Base to take advantage of technologies transferred from the public to private sectors.

Having watched for years as nascent technologies were developed at Sandia National Lab and then exported for production and commercialization elsewhere, the whole purpose of SS&TP was to capture those New Mexico-based ideas in a great public-private partnership and turn them into great jobs right here. Today SS&TP boasts 33 companies with over 2,200 employees. Average salaries are $71,000, compared to $39,000 in the greater Albuquerque area.

These are great jobs for our local economy, and we must prepare our children to take advantage of these well-paying, green-collar jobs in our own backyard.

I firmly believe that changing New Mexico’s economy starts in our schools. As mayor, I worked with the Albuquerque Public Schools to create the Green Hour, a program that allowed students to get real, hands on experience at the city to better understand how their instruction in biology, chemistry and other sciences actually makes a real difference. We can’t grow a world-class economy unless our kids understand our changing role in relationship to nature and the environment.

I’ve been honored to serve as national co-chair of the USGBC Green Schools Advisory Committee, where our goal is to green every school in the nation within a generation. It’s an ambitious goal, but absolutely attainable. Our report presented in Sundance provided a detailed blueprint that local officials and school districts can use to develop their own green-schools initiative. In developing sustainable learning environments, we are creating healthy platforms from which our children can grow and progress.

Today, the Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science at UNM, which I founded, is the leading public high school in New Mexico in math, science and reading, and all graduates have gone on to college. There will be no world-class green economy for our kids if they don’t have the analytical skills to compete within it.

We also made incredible progress at the city level in terms of recycling and emissions reduction. At my direction, Albuquerque vastly expanded recycling programs to bring our city in line with other initiatives around the country and brought Grow Stone to Albuquerque – one of the nation’s most unique glass-recycling programs that turns glass into water retention pumice-like stones for plants and agriculture. We also created Rapid Ride, which revolutionized public transportation in the city. Rapid Ride buses use a diesel-electric hybrid engine that has an extremely low level of emissions while providing power and improved gas mileage. When I left office, Albuquerque’s fleet was ranked the 4th greenest fleet in the country, and our mass transit system was using 100 percent renewable fuels.

Proud of the steps we took

I’m proud of the steps my administration took toward combating climate change, protecting our environment and building infrastructure in a more sustainable manner.

For our efforts, Albuquerque was recognized as the best city in America for jobs or a career (Forbes Magazine), the most sustainable large city in America (Seimens Foundation) and the best city in America addressing climate change (EPA). We also received the World Leadership Award for water utility and conservation (World Leadership Forum) and earned first place in the Mayors Climate Protection Award (U.S. Conference of Mayors).

Chávez, a Democrat, is a candidate for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House.

13 thoughts on “A vision for a world-class economy in NM

  1. Okay. Please explain how

    I’m neither agreeing or not agreeing with him, merely pointing out that you had turned “better judge” into “good judge”   

  2. Not what he said
    Okay. Please explain how The free market is a much better judge of “worth” than the do-gooder liberals who would define for us the “common good”
    If you don’t like explaining how the free market is better than liberal do-gooders with respect to externalities such as pollution, explain it for:
    Ireland in about 1847
    Bengal about 1943
    In each case, explain how the free market result which we actually saw was MUCH better result of judging worth than do-gooder liberals would have defined for us. I’m particularly interested in how you conclude that letting millions of people starve to death is a good judgement of the worth of things and people.

  3. Please explain how the market is a good judge of “worth” when there are externalities such as pollution or depletion of a resource.

    Not what he said

    The free market is a much better judge of “worth” than the do-gooder liberals who would define for us the “common good”

  4. gm:
    As usual, you just chose to believe what fit your preconceived narrative and not anything that even remotely resembles reality.  I know that parroting talking points is easier than logical thought, but the fact that your automatic reaction was to assume that all green energy companies are government subsidized shows that you would rather repeat what you’ve been told by people who literally don’t know what they’re talking about than take five seconds to realize that your entire statement is built upon a strawman argument that burned to ashes long ago.

  5. The free market is a much better judge of “worth” than the do-gooder liberals who would define for us the “common good”
    Please explain how the market is a good judge of “worth” when there are externalities such as pollution or depletion of a resource. Go on. Please. Explain something that no other economist in the history of the universe has been able to explain.
    (see, e.g., are.berkeley.edu/courses/EEP101/Detail%20Notes%20PDF/Cha03%2C%20Externalitites.pdf )

  6. The Greek is wrong on all counts Skeptic. There are NOT 6 successful green businesses operating for every one of those failures you list. Not even the current administration could subsidize that many.
    The free market is a much better judge of “worth” than the do-gooder liberals who would define for us the “common good”
    Startup renewable energy companies do NOT result in 4 additional jobs indirectly or directly. Possibly some government jobs which we taxpayers pay for.
    And your knowledge of history is fine and you are not myopic. Liberals have this problem with superciliousness.

  7. I wonder what a list of oil, gas and coal related business bankruptcies and failures would look like especially for start-ups.  Cherry picking entropic loss is just an Orwellian mind trick.  All processes have losses, even those that are marking the contrived metric of “making money”. 
    The Other Arab Spring by Thomas Friedman at the NY Times.

    “All these tensions over land, water and food are telling us something: The Arab awakening was driven not only by political and economic stresses, but, less visibly, by environmental, population and climate stresses as well”

    And a lot more mouths to feed with less water than ever. As Lester Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of “World on the Edge,” notes, 20 years ago, using oil-drilling technology, the Saudis tapped into an aquifer far below the desert to produce irrigated wheat, making themselves self-sufficient. But now almost all that water is gone, and Saudi wheat production is, too. So the Saudis are investing in farm land in Ethiopia and Sudan, but that means they will draw more Nile water for irrigation away from Egypt, whose agriculture-rich Nile Delta is already vulnerable to any sea level rise and saltwater intrusion.
    “If you ask “what are the real threats to our security today,” said Brown, “at the top of the list would be climate change, population growth, water shortages, rising food prices and the number of failing states in the world. As that list grows, how many failed states before we have a failing global civilization, and everything begins to unravel?” ”


  8. Public-Private Partnerships – when private industry provids public services for profit. The original taxes for the services remain in place, but a duplicative “service for FEE” structure is added. It is FASCISM, and it should NOT be considered as a solution to the State’s budget woes. It promotes monopolies and destroyes small business. If the stakeholder is not a shareholder, he has no voice.

  9. Skeptic:
    For every one of those companies, there are half-a-dozen that are still operating with sustainable business models; this is to say nothing of the parts-supply companies like Johnson Controls and Ameron International that are making ludicrous amounts of profit off of making equipment for this new sector.  Shall we list the failed oil-companies of a century ago?  Or perhaps the failed steel companies of a century-and-a-half ago?  Or, better still, the coal mines that have closed in the past two centuries?  Because your vision is so limited and your understanding of history so myopic, it is unsurprising that you appear to be incapable of understanding that new technologies do not magically become financially successful overnight simply because people who don’t understand them care more about profit than they do about the net benefits for society, nor is it surprising that you thus equate artificial financial success with actual worth.  It is also worth noting that the average renewable energy startup indirectly creates four times as many long-term living-wage jobs as its archaic counter-parts.

  10. Q, why do we have to waste our money on ANY energy?
    Because it’s a good idea for the government to invest in things where
    a) the risk of failure is high; and
    b) the payoff for success will make everyone – not just investors – far better off
    That’s the situation with a lot of alternative energy sources these days. It’s risky. Yet, if we can get away from fossil fuels, everyone who breathes air or eats food that’s grown or uses things like plastic and fertilizer made from oil will be far, far better off.
    Think of the transcontinental railroads. It’s was very risky – bazillions of railroad companies went belly up – yet it was also one of the things that helped make this country so much richer. That’s why the government subsidized it.
    Think of mining on federal land. The government gets very, very small royalties because it was thought that producing the raw materials would make everyone richer, while setting royalties as high as the market would bear would hold back industrialization and make everyone poorer.
    The key point is externalities. When any economic activity has effects on those other than buyers and sellers, the only rational approach is to either tax or subsidize in order to allocate the costs and benefits properly. Markets just can’t deal efficiently with externalities.
    That’s why we need to waste money on energy.

  11. Q, why do we have to waste our money on ANY energy?

    This record is not so good:

    List Of Failed Green Energy 

    Solar Trust of America: FAIL
    Bright Source: FAIL
    Solyndra: FAIL
    LSP Energy: FAIL
    Energy Conversion Devices: FAIL
    Abound Solar: FAIL
    SunPower: FAIL
    Beacon Power: FAIL
    Ecotality: FAIL
    A123 Solar: FAIL
    UniSolar: FAIL
    Azure Dynamics: FAIL
    Evergreen Solar: FAIL
    Ener1: FAIL


  12. Skeptic, only deniers of empirical science use the second law of thermodynamics only at their convenient whim to argue against those causes that they are brainwashed to believe are less efficient than the more inefficient entrenched outdated energy interests.  Loss is inherent in any case, the question is do we direct the flow of energy and resources towards a long term sustainable goal or do we continue to waste our children’s future on maintaining a way of life that will undermine the ecology of the nation and become more intolerably costly?

  13. “Instead of taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s never been more profitable, we should be using that money to double-down on …

    companies that go bankrupt, Have your newspaper subscriptions all run out? Do you not read of all the wasted money that went down the sewer to now bankrupt solar companies? Here’s a novel idea – let’s not subsidize ANY energy!!!   I’m tired of my income going to oil cos AND I’m tired of my tax dollars going into the toilet via incompetent government. Stop wasting my income!!!