Thursday, September 23, 2021

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States are poised to help resettle Afghan evacuees who fled their home country after the U.S. military exit; efforts emerge to help Native Americans gain more clean energy independence.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell refuses to support raising the debt ceiling; Biden administration pledges $500 million of COVID vaccine doses globally; and U.S. military says it's taking steps to combat sexual assault.

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A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Biden's Climate and Jobs Goals Cheer NM's Renewable-Energy Advocates

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Thursday, April 29, 2021   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- New Mexico's renewable resources provided more than a quarter of the state's electricity in 2020, and renewable-energy advocates hope the Biden administration's new climate and jobs focus will boost that further.

In a state that relies on oil and gas for about 40% of its economy, new jobs with a focus on infrastructure are welcome news.

Amy Miller, public affairs director for the North American Intelligent Manufacturing Initiative, owner of AAM Consulting, and a lifelong New Mexican who has spent much of her career in the energy industry, said like many Western states, New Mexico is seeing more impacts from climate change, including the length and intensity of forest fires, and Miller said it's time to prioritize.

"From an economic perspective, from a climate perspective, we've got to get to the table and figure this stuff out," Miller contended. "Time is running out."

The Biden administration noted from 2010 to 2020, New Mexico experienced 14 extreme weather events that caused up to $5 billion in damages.

Improvements to roads and bridges, housing and broadband are some infrastructure needs cited as a way to transform the state and make it more resilient.

Many in New Mexico worry about the loss of jobs in the fossil-fuel industry under Biden's proposed environmental reforms, but the president has said job opportunities for a clean-energy future must be created where people live.

Miller noted she supports the goal to build an economy that invests in climate resilience and infrastructure.

"There's a statement about putting the energy industry to work plugging orphan oil and gas wells, cleaning up abandoned mines etc.," Miller observed. "That is spot on for New Mexico."

Miller added rural New Mexico also needs federal infrastructure help to improve aging water systems, because many people, including those in the Navajo Nation, don't have access to running water or access to electricity.

The Biden administration estimates more than $1 billion is needed for the state's drinking-water infrastructure over the next 20 years.

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