Standing before a solar array in Northern New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had only a few minutes to address the nation in her speech at the Democratic National Convention.
By focusing on clean energy and the urgency of fighting climate change, Lujan Grisham positioned New Mexico before the world as a state that is facing its future. Yes, oil and gas have been and remain essential industries, but rather than cling to a fossil fuel past, New Mexico understands a different approach to satisfying energy needs is necessary in years to come.
Adapt or perish, and the sooner humanity recognizes this reality, the better.
In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the first half of 2020 saw near-record warmth around the globe. Nine of the 10 warmest Junes have occurred since 2010. In New Mexico, much of the state remains under drought conditions, with residents looking to the skies in hopes of rain, only to be disappointed.
Accepting this reality and building a smarter, more sustainable future is a signature achievement of Lujan Grisham’s first term. She touted the Energy Transition Act in her speech — with its goal of New Mexico becoming 100 percent carbon neutral in the production of electricity by 2045 — and spoke of the promise of clean energy jobs.
A Joe Biden administration, she said, would recognize the reality of climate change and prepare the United States for its future. That includes returning the United States to the Paris climate accord and committing the nation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
By highlighting environmental successes in New Mexico, Lujan Grisham put climate policy front and center on the third night of the Democratic National Convention. And while attacks on President Donald Trump and his record are standard operating procedure in a political campaign, it is essential for Democrats to offer positive reasons for voters to choose their ticket as opposed to voting against the Republican slate.
Making the case on climate — which Lujan Grisham did — demonstrated a clear difference between the two major party candidates. She did so standing in front of a solar array at the El Rito campus of Northern New Mexico College.
Along with state Rep. Derrick Lente’s participation in the roll call vote Tuesday, New Mexico has had several high-visibility moments in the spotlight. Lente gave his nominating words at Sandia Pueblo, dressed in the traditional clothing of his pueblo and speaking his language in the introduction. On Thursday night, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, a Laguna Pueblo member, also was tapped to speak.
Lujan Grisham’s speech, however, was a key moment. Considered for the vice presidential slot and potentially a candidate to serve in a Biden Cabinet, Lujan Grisham is building a record of accomplishment for any future national positions.
Her aggressiveness at expanding COVID-19 testing in New Mexico, decisiveness in shutting the state down early in the pandemic and her adoption of a mask mandate shows she is unafraid to act using science and common sense.
Despite her value as a national point person on fighting COVID-19, Lujan Grisham belongs in New Mexico to complete her term. That’s where the real work — the stuff the governor says she’s most interested in accomplishing — really is.
The state’s flattened finances, in particular, cry out for a governor who can manage spending while refusing to lose sight of much-needed reforms and big-picture initiatives. Lt. Gov. Howie Morales is an able second in command, but Lujan Grisham remains the leader New Mexico needs right now.