All posts by Kevin McDonald

COVID-19 Response: Environmental Protection Rollbacks

Marc Cooper via Flickr CC

In Episode 37, we’re talking about companies and federal officials squeezing through changes to environmental regulation, oil and gas leases and laws about anti-pipeline demonstrators while the nation’s been focused on the pandemic.



We hear from longtime state environment reporter Laura Paskus about the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow “regulated industries to use their own discretion to report violations of clean air and water laws,” which came about during the pandemic. And we hear Paskus’ interview with New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney about what this means for our state.



Then, Liz McKenzie, who went to Standing Rock from New Mexico years ago, responds to three states passing laws to further criminalize people who protest fossile fuel infrastructure, all of which happened in the last two weeks of March, as the country coped with COVID.



We hear from State Land Office Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard about an emergency oil and gas rule that lets companies stop drilling for at least 30 days, in part because gas prices are tanking.



Rebecca Sobel from WildEarth Guardians talks about frustrations that the Bureau of Land Management is continuing the process of leasing New Mexico’s land even during the pandemic, when it’s pretty hard for people to register their objections.



And a news update:  The number of people who are confirmed to have the virus in New Mexico jumped by more than a hundred to 794. One more person died, bringing the death toll to 13. Two Pueblos are seeing outbreaks this week, too. There were 52 cases in San Felipe and 31 in Zia. On the Navajo Nation, there are 384 confirmed cases—a high number given the population size. And there have been 15 virus-related deaths.



We’re keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode here



How are things going for you? We want to know. Share your quarantine stories by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.

COVID-19 Response: The Roof And The Lights

William Warby via Flickr CC

In Episode 36, we’re talking about the struggle to pay rents or mortgages and to keep the lights on during the pandemic. Because when money’s tight, people are forced to make choices. And some of those choices—about food and medicine—could interfere with their health and immune systems as we all try to avoid this virus.
Mayor Tim Keller tells us about relief money from the city to help pay your rent, though that fund is going quick. PNM shares details about the pay-what-you-can plan, the company’s promise to not turn off your lights during the pandemic and a fund for helping out with bills. Renter AJ Woods says if we want to see a real commitment to social distancing and isolation, the government must suspend and forgive rent and mortgage payments so people don’t have to try to go out and make ends meet. Landlord Stew Dorris talks us through trying to work things out with the mortgage companies for his properties because his tenants can’t pay their rents. And Las Vegas, N.M. small business owner Pauline Perea of The Styling Parlor—in operation for decades—tells us about trying to figure out rent for her business that’s not in operation right now.
And a news update: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order for the Department of Corrections to create a list of inmates that could be released early. That have to be people whose release date is only a month out, who have a parole plan, who have not been convicted of sex offenses, DWI, domestic abuse or assault on an officer.
We’re keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode at bit.ly/YNMGhub. And here’s what we got from today.
Resources:
How are things going for you? We want to know. Share your quarantine stories by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.
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Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, and the New Mexico Local News Fund.