Candidate Q&A: Teresa Leger Fernandez on environmental issues
This week, we’re running a series of interviews with New Mexico’s federal candidates, each of whom answered questions about issues related to our energy future, water scarcity and climate change.
The following interview is with Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat who is running for New Mexico’s Third Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep Ben Ray Luján. Luján is running for the open U.S. Senate seat.
Leger Fernandez runs the Santa Fe-based social impact law firm Leger Law and Strategy. She was appointed as vice chair to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation under President Barack Obama’s administration. She was also appointed as a White House Fellow by President Bill Clinton. Leger Fernandez also served as a commissioner on the Las Acequias de Chupadero.
Leger Fernandez is running against Republican Alexis Johnson. You can read our interview with Johnson here.
NM Political Report (NMPR): What energy future do you see for New Mexico and the United States?
Teresa Leger Fernandez: I like this question because it asks us to envision what we would like to see. I see windmills around the eastern part of our state generating electricity to serve both small communities as well as urban areas like Albuquerque and Santa Fe and beyond. I often talk about a Route 66 of solar, so that our wonderful sun and wind are able to fuel other parts of the country.
I see regenerative agriculture in our farmlands in northern New Mexico and in our pastures where our farmers and ranchers are not only staying on the land that they love and cultivating it and providing us with delicious local food—but also helping to save our planet, because we know that ranching and farming done right, under a regenerative model, helps capture carbon from the air.
We have our national labs, Sandia and Los Alamos, together with some of our amazing research universities at UNM, New Mexico Tech and NMSU, being part of the research and development to help us solve this climate crisis and to create the new kind of technologies we’re going to need to be able to store all of the beautiful sun and wind energy to be able to power the electric vehicles of the future. I see our skies being more beautiful than ever and the rains coming back as they should, that we have our monsoons back in August.
NMPR: New Mexico and other states have adopted clean energy mandates that phase out fossil fuel energy generation. How will you support these communities navigate this tough economic transition?
Teresa Leger Fernandez: At the federal level would be one of the cosponsors of the legislation that we’re already seeing introduced in the House, such as the Environmental Justice For All Act, which would acknowledge that all people have the right to clean air, water, etc; and that would say that we’re going to need to provide a fund for those communities that are most impacted. I’d be in support of the One Hundred Percent Clean Economy Act, which would say we’re going to invest in that transition from fossil fuels to wind and solar. To do that, we need to provide job training in the new industries, we need to assist the local governments and we need to have a special focus especially on those communities that have borne the brunt of the fossil fuel industry and the accompanying pollution. They have helped fuel our development to date. We need to recognize that they were part of important things that happened in terms of economic development and not forget them—which is why we need to now reinvest in those communities to do the job training. I want to see us manufacturing wind turbines. We do not have a wind turbine manufacturing facility in New Mexico—we should. These are the kinds of activities that we need to reinvest into in New Mexico. I think the federal government has a…