Private Profits, Public Threats: How Governor Martinez’s Big Business Agenda Endangers New Mexicans
From the moment she became New Mexico’s governor on January 1, 2011, Susana Martinez has worked overtime to dismantle key protections that the state put in place for the benefit of New Mexicans and the air, water and land they cherish.
In her first six months, Governor Martinez has already managed to undo several rules and regulations that safeguard New Mexico’s environment, working families, and communities – and has displayed a great enthusiasm for unraveling many more. The governor has filled new advisory groups with big business lobbyists and reoriented state departments to promote business interests, in many cases endangering the public interest. The new administration also established an Office of Business Advocacy within the Economic Development Department designed for “chopping down those regulatory weeds.”
Already, Governor Martinez has targeted the Dairy Waste Rule, enacted to safeguard drinking water sources located near nitrate-rich manure lagoons of factory farms; the Pit Rule, which protects groundwater from oil and gas drilling waste; the 2009 New Mexico Energy Conservation Code, adopted to increase energy efficiency in new construction by 20 percent; and the state’s Public Employee Labor Relations Board, which protects public workers from unfair treatment.
Governor Martinez rapidly sandbagged these New Mexico rules and regulations that only went into effect after months of public hearings, public comment and expert scientific testimony. And they were enacted for a reason: to protect and benefit all New Mexicans – not just the ones who can afford a place at the governor’s table.
Unfortunately, Governor Martinez, who swept into office with the help of campaign donations from oil and gas, mining, mega-dairy and other big industries, has demonstrated little restraint granting the wishes of those who want to see the state’s environmental protections rolled back.
Time after time, advocates and others who care about keeping New Mexico’s air, water and land pristine have seen their concerns go unheard by Governor Martinez, while lobbyists and big players from oil and gas, mining and dairy get the inside track. Perhaps this preferential access is unsurprising, since oil and gas, industrialized dairy, mining and the construction industries all were big financial supporters of the Martinez gubernatorial campaign. Oil and gas gave more than $1 million to candidate Martinez, homebuilders and general contractors gave $621,000 and the livestock and dairy industry gave $267,900.