Washington, DC - Yesterday, 207 members of the House of Representatives voted in favor of Congressman Steve Pearce’s proposed Amendment to H.R. 658, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act. The Pearce Amendment, which failed in a 207-215 vote, would have simply allowed an equitable exchange of land on the boundary of Doña Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa and the Verde Corporate Realty Services. The transfer would have given Doña Ana County the property necessary for a much-needed alternative access road to the east end of the airport. Meanwhile, Verde would be able to develop the surrounding area. The big story is that the Pearce Amendment came within 9 votes of passing,despite opposition from leadership in both parties. Pearce was able to garner bipartisan support for his amendment including votes from New Mexico’s congressional delegation. Both Rep. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan voted in favor of the Pearce Amendment. Congressman Pearce appears to be emerging as an independent leader in the fight for best practices on jobs and regulatory balance. However, it would seem that a vote in recent weeks cast by Pearce against the so-called "Continuing Resolution" that keeps the federal government borrowing more than $4 billion dollars each day has irritated House Speaker John Boehner more than previously thought.
Dona Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa
Unfortunately for New Mexicans in Southern Dona Ana County, the Pearce Amendment was needed because the land trade at the Dona Ana County airport requires authorization from Congress (and apparently the political blessing of John Boehner) because of a clause in the Airport and Airways Development Act of 1970, which states that property no longer being used for airport purposes automatically reverts back to Federal ownership. A separate bipartisan Amendment not specific to Doña Ana County, which Pearce co-sponsored with Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah, passed Thursday night. The Pearce-Matheson Amendment would have permitted the Santa Teresa exchange and all land transfers similar to the Santa Teresa exchange.
NewsNM note - (Spence) Clearly House Speaker John Boehner's decision to squelch the passage of this very simple bipartisan amendment is a deeply troubling sign. It is obvious that not enough things changed with the election last November. Washington continues to be a very vindictive place. It now seems likely that independent GOP House members like Steve Pearce, who have deep philosophical objections to "tactics" employed by the Speaker that continue to condone the federal government borrowing $4.1 billion dollars each day, can expect petty retribution. The Pearce Amendment was a no-brainer. In opposing this particular amendment, John Boehner seems to be morphing into a grudge bearing Speaker of the House who appears to be more interested in expanding the scope of caucus power instead of good government. This choice is a pity. We were hoping for better economic decisions and less politically motivated vindictiveness.
How many of you have traveled to Palm Springs, California, or across the Tehachapi mountains east of Bakersfield or the Altamont Pass east of San Francisco or the plains of western Texas and have seen the gigantic wind turbines that dot the horizon or cover entire mountain sides. Some think these massive manmade industrial forests are quite attractive and commend them for the “clean” energy they produce. Have you seen the massive solar panel fields located in the Mohave Desert, or the 775,000 solar panels installed on the 380 acre site outside Boulder City, Nevada? I find both wind turbines and solar panels to be offensive blights and visual pollution on otherwise beautiful natural landscapes.
My environmental friends do not share my opinions and fail to understand my interest in protecting the visual quality of the environment. To me there is nothing attractive or scenic about these massive wind turbines that spoil the scenic tranquility of the landscape, or wreak havoc on the migration of birds, and emit noises that disrupt the solitude of nature. The massive fields of solar panels are equally destructive to the unique scenery of the areas in which they are located.
How can these same environmentally conscientious individuals, who want to lock up the wilderness to protect it from the ravages of mankind, advocate the destruction of vast areas of our natural landscapes to install these “clean” energy systems. How many acres of scenic lands are now littered with these ugly, noisy, or visually offensive devices? How much of our natural scenic beauty has been or will be rendered useless by the environmental “renewable energy” movement that claims to protect the environment for future generations?
Solar panel installations remove massive amounts of acreage from public use. The Bureau of Land Management has identified three areas in New Mexico as Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) which has the potential of removing 110,000 acres of land from public use. Not only will this land be inaccessible to the public but it will be dotted with man-made devices that will destroy any natural scenic beauty of the same lands the environmentalists keep telling us they want to protect. Do they truly want to dedicate 77,000 acres southwest of Las Cruces, or 22,000 acres near Alamogordo for solar energy zones? It would be interesting to calculate the total number of acres of land that these renewable energy projects have already removed from public use or adversely impacted the landscape and natural beauty of the nation.
I find it difficult to understand how so many people in southern New Mexico could lobby for the wilderness bill to protect the Organ Mountains and our deserts and still advocate construction of renewable energy projects on public lands. These two concepts seem to be a collision course toward their mutual destruction because of their environmental implications. How is renewable energy compatible with the efforts of the Wilderness Alliance to protect public lands from all forms of development? Recently Wilderness Alliance staff attorney Judy Calman stated in the Las Cruces Sun-News that solar development can be destructive, mostly because the projects require such large areas and cause considerable disturbance.
Is this another case of the “not in my backyard” mentality of the environmentalists. Even the late Senator Ted Kennedy lobbied for environmental policies including renewable energy but later opposed its construction near his community. It appears that the environmentalists have created a monumental obstacle to renewable energy through their policies to establish wilderness areas that lock out ALL development – including their own renewable energy projects. Perhaps it’s poetic justice.
Capitol Report New Mexico - When I was in office didn’t pay much attention to blogs. I knew they were out there, but I had a hard enough time keeping track of the press in the Capitol. I didn’t get along with the press. We put up with each other. I had a bad habit of opening my mouth. They had the bad habit of writing it down and if they didn’t I wrote it for them. I made their jobs easy. I was a walking news brief. I have a new, I wouldn’t say respect but an understanding for bloggers and their ilk. Trying to figure out what to write about once a week is tough. Especially when you don’t have easy access to politicians that are rolling train wrecks. Luckily, the nature of politics naturally leads to the absurd. It mirrors Einstein’s definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When I was 9 years old I remember my parents talking about gas prices. Watching the news and seeing people wait in line for gas. I remember my Dad selling his beautiful eight cylinder Mercedes and buying a four cylinder Peugeot, the ugliest car this side of the Pacer. I remember our neighbors putting up solar panels and doing a project for Cub Scouts making a solar oven. Didn’t cook worth a damn, but it could roast the fingers of any 9 year old dumb enough to use it. President Nixon wrestled with OPEC and their embargo, Carter fretted over our oil dependency and the first Bush called it an addiction.
Thirty-eight years later where are we? Still nuzzled up to despotic, corrupt Arab regimes that we continue to prop up. Rebuilding Iraq while America turns to dust and blows away before our eyes. We are fighting three wars ( regardless of the semantic gymnastics, when you are dropping bombs on someone I am sure they would call it a war or at least very warlike) to protect the spigot for us or our European pals. There is no difference in America’s energy policy. We are doing the same things and expecting a different result. President Obama talks a great game and with every forceful finger point and gesture made at Georgetown he laid out the exact approach that every politician has touted for the past four decades. Read full column here: News New Mexico