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Advocate's Voice

A Cleaner Future for New Mexico

NEA-NM is an important voice for sustainability, a healthy environment and climate protection.
Cleaner NM
Published: 07/18/2022

Key Takeaways

  1. Senate Bill 112
  2. New jobs to replace those that rely on the extraction of natural resources.
  3. Hands-on learning experiences for students.

In 2022 the National Education Association of New Mexico (NEA NM) became an important voice for sustainability, a healthy environment and climate protection. The union’s legislative platform called on the state to “Develop and initiate funding for a plan to make every New Mexico school carbon-neutral… This plan should be structured so that contractors work with the school staff to provide student opportunities for Career and Technical Education instruction and hands-on learning experiences for students (such as understanding the math, science, engineering, and policy behind the initiative).

The union’s vision for a carbon-neutral future could create thousands of good jobs and create career pathways for students in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other industries. These ideas are driving a process currently underway, led by the New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) and grassroots leaders throughout the state.

In 2022, the NM Legislature passed Senate Bill 112. The bill directed NMEDD to develop a strategic plan to transition the state economy away from our reliance on natural resource extraction. Additionally, it calls on the state to develop policies that will create new jobs to replace occupations that rely on the extraction or development of natural resources.

To guide the process, SB112 also established the Sustainable Economy Task Force (SET Force) and the Sustainable Economy Advisory Committee (SEAC), both housed within the NMEDD. SET Force is comprised of representatives from various state agencies while the SEAC includes stakeholders from communities disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis, organizations with expertise in sustainable economic development, industry and business sectors, and representatives of tribal communities. 

A first draft of the strategic plan recommending nine emerging industries is now on the NMEDD website. Over the next six months SET Force and SEAC will be seeking public input on the plan which will be updated over the course of the next 5 years. The Center for Civic Policy will be coordinating community engagement for this process which will include regular educational webinars and regional public meetings beginning in mid-August.

The strategic plan must incorporate a strategy to implement the recommendations of the groundbreaking “New Mexico Clean Energy Workforce Study” developed in 2020. These include:

  • Clean energy workforce development in K-12 and post-secondary education. 
  • Alignment of job creation incentives and training programs. 
  • Core industry competencies in curricula. 
  • Specialized training programs through colleges and universities.
  • Paid apprenticeship and training opportunities.
  • Incentives for programs to recruit underrepresented populations.
  • Public outreach to ensure New Mexicans know about the timeline for a just transition to clean energy and the opportunities available to gain skills and certifications for new jobs.

New Mexico’s teachers can play a central role in designing and implementing any or all these recommendations and NEA NM can help lead the way.

We strongly encourage you to provide input and stay engaged in this vital project to develop a healthy and sustainable economy for all New Mexicans. For more information you can contact:

Felicia DePaula, Program Development Specialist, NMEDD

Johanna Nelson, Strategic Programs Manager, NMEDD

 

Michael Leon Guerrero is the Sustainable Economy Policy Advisor for the Center for Civic Policy (CCP). He can be reached at [email protected].

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NEA Resolution in Full

This program will simultaneously move our State toward increasing the flow of available funds to the classroom (by reducing the structural energy-related “fixed cost” within District and school budgets). This plan should be structured so that contractors work with the school staff to provide student opportunities for Career and Technical Education instruction and hands-on learning experiences for students (such as understanding the math, science, engineering, and policy behind the initiative). This program will also be a big step toward helping our State achieve its goals of being carbon neutral by 2045 and stimulate economic growth in every New Mexico community."

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