Energy & Global Warming
Advancing our energy economy is of utmost importance, both for our national and our economic security, and it must be accomplished through a diverse approach that creates jobs in clean and renewable energy, reduces waste, protects the environment and our public lands, and addresses climate change.
The science is clear, and New Mexico and the Southwest are in the bull's eye when it comes to the devastating effects of global warming. Rising temperatures, more frequent droughts, and increasingly severe wildfires are jeopardizing our water supply, economy and health. New Mexicans of all backgrounds understand that climate change poses a grave threat to our way of life, and that we need to take action. A sound energy policy relies on us having a comprehensive strategy to limit our greenhouse gas emissions first.
The hopeful news is that greenhouse gas emissions are declining in the U.S., today they are around 14 percent lower than 2005 levels, even while our nation’s economy grew by over 40% and our population by nearly 30 million people during that same period. We can expand our economy and fight global warming successful, but it is urgent to reduce emissions even further. So far, we are approximately halfway to the U.S. pledge to reduce our emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 under the Paris climate accord. This historic international agreement requires significant action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by all nations—including major countries like China, India, Japan, Brazil and the European Union. The US should continue to lead globally on climate change by working to meet our Paris pledge, which will make our economy more competitive while protecting our planet for future generations.
Clean and Renewable Energy
We must transition to clean energy fuels and cleaner uses of our existing fuels. The price of renewable energy technologies, like wind and solar is dropping rapidly, and is now less expensive than fossil fuels, especially in places with ample wind and sun like the Southwest. New advancements are improving battery and storage technology continues to break barriers. And New Mexico has seen an incredible increase in this transition. As part of this transition, we must ensure that if we are to continue the development of fossil fuels, it must be done in a way that has a minimal impact on the environment and paves the way for drastically lowering the amount of pollution associated with these fuels.
The first piece of legislation I introduced as a United States Senator was a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Enacting my RES - legislation I successfully fought to pass in the House - would create thousands of American jobs that cannot be outsourced and help revitalize rural America. With an abundance of wind, sun and ingenuity, New Mexico has the potential to be a leader in the clean energy economy. I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to move America forward in this crucial area.
Responsible Fossil Fuel Production
In New Mexico and across the country, clean and renewable energy and playing larger and larger roles in electricity production. As of 2016, coal and natural gas each provided around 30% of the nation’s electricity, with the other portion provided by nuclear and renewable sources. For transportation, we are still almost entirely reliant on oil based fuels (over 90%), although cars and trucks have been—and should be—becoming more and more fuel efficient. As we continue to innovate new, cleaner energy technologies, New Mexico and the United States will still rely on fossil fuels for many years. Responsible production of these fuels, to reduce pollution and waste, is a common sense approach.
One important example is methane pollution, and methane is the natural gas used to generate electricity, heat homes and water, and fuel stoves. Leaking and inefficient oil and gas wells on federal land waste enough natural gas to power a city the size of Chicago every year. Not only does this mean taxpayers are losing out on tens of millions of dollars in royalties each year, but the methane produced is a powerful greenhouse gas, and the associated smog poses a clear public health threat. I have fought for commonsense rules that limit needless emissions of methane. These rules have flexibility for oil and gas operations to ensure they can meet new standards and they create good jobs in an emerging waste mitigation industry, while helping states pay for schools, law enforcement and other services.
Reliance on Foreign Oil
Our nation faces a variety of energy challenge, one of which is an economy that has been overly dependent on foreign oil. In conjunction with investments in new energy technologies that support cleaner, more efficient, use of our domestic fuels, we must also support programs and policies that increase the diversity of our energy options such as electric vehicles and advanced biofuels. By consuming less fuel to power the same number of cars or homes, we will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our energy independence. Fortunately, the combination of innovation, improved fuel efficiency, and increased domestic production has caused the percentage of oil that the U.S. imports to drop from 60% in 2006 to 25% in 2016—among the lowest levels in 30 years.
Clean Energy Victory Bonds
My proposal for Clean Energy Victory Bonds would develop U.S. Treasury bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Those bonds would be used to invest in clean energy projects to help the federal government lower its carbon emissions and promote clean energy development. Investors will earn back their full investment—plus interest that comes from energy savings to the government and loan repayments for clean energy projects. The investment would make a critical difference in our energy future.
Energy and Water Nexus
We know that it takes energy to treat and transport water. All too often, that treated water is lost – through leaks and broken pipes. That isn’t just wasted water, it’s wasted energy.
New Mexico and other states have had historic droughts. We need every drop of water we can get. We may not be able to make it rain, but we should be able to get maximum usage out of the water that we do have. We can’t afford leaking pipes. We have to do better, and we can.
I have sponsored a bill to save both water and energy – the Smart Energy and Water Efficiency Act. This bill supports federal pilot projects to develop water and energy efficiency technology. We can create a smart grid of technology to detect leaks in pipes even before they happen. This is critical to communities all across New Mexico and our nation. Saving water is saving energy. We should make it a priority to save both.