New Mexico Leads Nation in Fatal Drug Overdoses – More than Twice the National Average

Posted on 29. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

A new report shows that New Mexico leads the Nation in fatal drug overdoses, more than twice the national average. The Martinez Administration Must Act Quickly to Replace Department of Health’s Outgoing Harm Reduction Manager with Someone Who Can Respond to the Severity of the Epidemic with Concrete Lifesaving Solutions New Manager Must Ensure Access to the Overdose-reversal Drug Naloxone to all New Mexicans, Including Those Leaving Jail and Prison

(Santa Fe) – A newly issued report on drug overdose deaths in the United States from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found New Mexico to have the highest overall overdose death rate of any state. New Mexico suffered 27 overdose deaths per 100,000 people, more than two times the national average.  Since 1991, the overdose death rate has increased 242%.

With the impending departure of Dominick Zurlo, Department of Health’s Harm Reduction Program Manager who oversees the state’s Naloxone program, advocates are concerned about the state’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to this overdose epidemic in the absence of experienced harm reduction staff. Zurlo announced his resignation early this month.

“Time is not on our side — lives are at risk,” said Emily Kaltenbach, Director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office. “The Martinez Administration must respond to the CDC report with immediate solutions and quickly hire Zurlo’s replacement. New Mexico needs an experienced professional who will ensure all New Mexican’s have access to the lifesaving overdose reversal drug Naloxone.”

One inexpensive, common-sense response to fatal overdoses is the overdose reversing drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan.  This safe and relatively inexpensive drug has been used widely by hospital emergency department and first responders for more than 30 years.  The New Mexico Department of Health oversees distribution of Naloxone through its Harm Reduction Program, providing overdose education and Naloxone at several of its facilities around the state and at certain mobile units.  DOH reports that Naloxone the Department distributed has been used successfully more than 3,000 times in New Mexico.

In addition to current providers, “Naloxone should be given to persons incarcerated in county jails upon their release if they are known to have used opioids” suggests Dr. Bruce Trigg, a retired DOH physician who has worked with methadone treatment in New Mexico for more than 8 years.  Currently more than 300 prisoners per month go through the opioid detox program at Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Detention Center.  “Anyone with an addiction to opioids should also get information about and access to one of the two medically proven treatments – methadone and buprenorphine.”

Dr. Trigg also recommends that “every patient prescribed more than 30 days of opioid pain relievers should also receive a prescription for Naloxone.”

“Everyone who loves or lives with a person who uses opioids – whether opioid pain relievers or heroin – should learn how to use Naloxone and have it on hand”, says Dr. Anjali Taneja, a physician at Casa de Salud.   “Imagine how many more overdose deaths could be prevented if it was more readily available?”

The new harm reduction manager must also ensure all New Mexicans are educated about their rights if they call 911 on behalf of an overdose victim, as they have limited immunity from prosecution for drug possession under the State’s 911/Good Samaritan Law. Whether injected or snorted as heroin or ingested as an opioid pain reliever, all opiates are treated by the body the same way and ultimately have the same effect on the brain, including the potential for fatal overdose.

Available in both injectable and nasal spray forms, Naloxone requires minimal training for effective use.  And, it is equally effective reversing overdoses caused by heroin or prescription opioid pain relievers.  Simply stated, Naloxone saves lives.\

“It’s time for New Mexico to take the lead by dramatically expanding the availability of Naloxone,” said Kaltenbach of DPA. “Let’s stop treating drug overdose as a moral failure and started treating it as a problem to be solved.”

DOH also provides Naloxone for distribution by other health offices such as El Centro Family Health in Espanola and Casa de Salud in Albuquerque.  A complete list of DOH-related providers can be accessed at the DOH website at http://tinyurl.com/ceswheb

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

This article was submitted by the Drug Policy Alliance, Emily Kaltenbach | State Director, New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance, 230 S. St. Francis Drive, Suite 8 | Santa Fe, NM 87501, Voice: 505.920.5256  www.drugpolicy.org

 

Public policy and regulatory decisions driving up electricity rates

Posted on 29. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Electricity rates now depend more on public policy and regulatory decisions than on actual costs. Based on a newly released report from Oliver Wyman, a leading global management consulting firm, “There is a growing need to increase electricity prices. These rate increases are largely being driven by environmental, regulatory, and security requirements.” And they are adding to “financial strain at the worst possible moment.”

The report, designed to help utility companies deal with customer wrath, states that “the increases have been the most significant in the residential segment”—where they grew more quickly than other sectors. Despite declining pricing on some fuels, such as natural gas, electricity rates have risen 2.7% per year with some regions experiencing average price increases of 5.1% annually. In contrast, the consumer price index—excluding food and energy—rose by 1.7%.

Residential customers experiencing the highest increases, and/or potential increases, are those who are heavily dependent on coal-fueled generation, as required retrofits cannot economically meet existing environmental requirements—resulting in the proposed retirement of older coal-fueled plants. Existing and proposed EPA rules are having a significant impact on rates—with the vast majority of compliance costs falling on residents. The report states: “If these are enacted and enforced, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff has informally estimated that 8% of our electric generation capacity, representing 81 GW of the nation’s generating capacity, will need to be retired.”

Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator, was recently asked about the mass retirements of coal-fueled power plants as a result of EPA regulations. While they do not technically require shutting down any plant, the rules are such that plants cannot be operated economically—but Jackson doesn’t see that as her problem. “I can’t say what a business will decide to do. Some businesses are investing in nuclear, some are looking at natural gas. There are states that are leading the way on solar or wind.”

Jackson’s comment, plus the Department of Energy’s loan guarantees, makes clear that the only correct path is wind and solar. But why?

Because most states have renewable portfolio standards (or renewable energy standards) that require power companies to produce a set percentage of their electricity from sources such as wind and solar. These renewable sources, however, increase electricity prices, use more land, and have other personal impacts.

Increasing Prices

A recent article in the Financial Times quotes Steve Sawyer of the Global Wind Energy Council. He said, “In areas of strong wind and plentiful land, such as west Texas or Colorado, wind power could be cheaper than fossil-fuel generation even without subsidies.” Yes, it “could” be—if the public policy and regulatory decisions keep driving up the price of electricity generated from traditional sources. But currently, renewable energy is clearly more expensive.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the shenanigans the legislature went through in Rhode Island to push an off-shore wind farm—even though the Public Utility Commission declared that it was “commercially unreasonable.” That story made clear that renewable electricity, despite what proponents say, is more expensive. In short, earlier this year, Rhode Island residents were paying 9.4 cents per khw. However, due to a drop in natural gas prices, in March the Public Utility Commission approved a 26% rate decrease, dropping rates from 9.4 cents per kwh to 6.9. By comparison, the contract for the wind-generated electricity started at 24.4 cents per kwh and includes a guaranteed 3.5% price increase bringing the wind-generated electricity to 47 cents per kwh in twenty years—making the wind-generated electricity roughly 4-8 times more expensive than the natural gas-fueled electricity.

While disposable income for most Americans has shrunk, rules and regulations—not market forces—have driven the price of electricity up, increasing energy’s share of people’s disposable income by 12%.

Land Use

As Lisa Jackson proudly stated, “There are states that are leading the way on solar or wind.” If she has her way, and utilities need to shut down their coal-fueled power plants and replace them with renewable facilities, we know the costs will be considerably higher—which some believe to be a worthwhile trade-off—but, what will that really look like?

In New Mexico, in order to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, the primary utility company, PNM, is in the process of installing five major solar arrays around the state. Each of these industrial solar parks occupy fifty acres and have a capacity factor of one megawatt—or enough electricity for 1200 “average” homes.

The San Juan Generating Station, one of the state’s coal-fueled power plants targeted by Lisa Jackson’s EPA, consistently cranks out 1482 megawatts—or enough for 1.8 million “average” homes.

Simple math and these real life scenarios, tell us that in order to replace the one coal-fueled power plant (which is built right next to the coal mine that provides an abundant supply) with the planned industrial solar parks would require 1482 of the arrays—which would cover 74,100 acres.

A similar comparison is available for wind. The New Mexico Wind Energy Center provides wind-generated electricity to PNM through 136 wind turbines on 9600 acres—yielding about 50 megawatts of usable power to serve 60,875 homes. To replace the San Juan Generating Station with wind would cover, using the New Mexico Wind Energy Center model, 284,544 acres. However, using the industry average, replacing the San Juan Generating Station with wind turbines would occupy 509,808 acres.

This does not take into account the additional transmission lines or back up power plants that will be needed for the intermittent resource.

As noted in previous columns, environmentalists are obstructing industrial wind and solar parks due to the massive land use and others fight the instillations due to viewscape pollution.

So public policy and regulatory decisions are making electricity more expensive while requiring massive land use and damaging habitat and degrading the viewscape. But there’s more.

Personal Impacts

Colette read an article on renewable portfolio standards that I’d written earlier this year. Last week she e-mailed me to ask about my comment: “It is not that renewable energy is wrong. There are many cases where wind or solar are the best option.” Following her name, her signature included, “Resident living with the incessant twirling and swooshing from 24 industrial wind turbines.” I e-mailed her. In her response she said, “I took exception to your statement because I believe that in the end things like wind energy are wrong even for those small scale situations where someone wants the visceral satisfaction that they are doing ‘something’ toward their energy usage.”

Colette proceeded to tell me her story of living with four wind turbines within about a half a mile from her backdoor—and 24 within about two miles from her farm and home.

Back in 2006, Colette, and other farmers, were approached by a wind-power generation developer and offered the opportunity to “host” the industrial wind turbines. Many of the farmers saw wind as their “new crop to harvest.”

Before signing the developer’s contract, Colette had an attorney review it. She was shocked at the restrictions that would be placed on her own land should she sign the contract—including putting the long-term ownership of her farm in danger. She did more research and found myriad reasons to fight the industrial wind energy project. She says, “Unfortunately there were forces in local government that were prepared for opposition, and that had already paved the way for development, regardless of community reaction.”

Now, with 24 wind turbines within a few mile radius of her home, Collette says: “It’s not pretty living with these 400-foot behemoths and there are many times the incessant swirling and swooshing has me depressed and angry. The enjoyment of my home and property has been taken away. Other residents are suffering deeply with tinnitus, ear pain, migraines, and sleep disruption. Luckily my symptoms are not as severe and, other than the lack of sleep, I seem to be able to cope. Some neighbors have told me that they have resigned themselves to finding a way to live with the development because there is no hope of changing anything now that the turbines are up and running.”

The personal impacts have been greater than sleep disruption, tinnitus, or migraines. They are more than viewscape degradation or loss of enjoyment of one’s home and property. Reflecting on the multi-year battle, Colette says: it “completely shattered my faith in government and the environmental movement.” (An account of Collette’s experience can be found in the book Dirty Business.)

These snapshots are representative of what is going on throughout the western world. Colette is from Canada. In the European Union, according to the Financial Times, “energy bills have become an increasingly acrimonious political issue, and there are signs of similar tensions flaring in the US.”

The Oliver Wyman report states, “While the future outlook for electricity rates is largely dependent upon public policy and regulatory decisions, one fact is clear: substantial capital investments are required by the nation’s utilities to modernize the electric grid and meet proposed environmental requirements.”

However, unlike Colette’s neighbors, we do not have to be resigned to finding ways to live with the current public policy and regulatory decisions as they are not yet fully up and running. Significant impacts on future consumer prices are being debated today. In the midst of an economic war, we should not be arbitrarily raising energy costs. We need to push “legislators and regulators to find constructive solutions to keep rates low for consumers—including deferring or modifying rules and regulations that have significant capital requirements.”

This article was submitted by Marita Noon who is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, has just been released.


 

 

First Ladies Second to None

Posted on 28. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Want a tough job? Try being married to the leader of the free world! Presidents’ wives are stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place, hitched to a man whose work is never done and whose office is right downstairs.  Add to that the ever-watchful eye of the press and the gaze of every American woman at her hair, outfits and makeup (as well as her every action) and they soon see that life in the White House is like that of a guppy in a fishbowl. Modern day First Ladies from Eleanor Roosevelt through Michelle Obama have had to cope with over-achieving men while attempting to find their own equilibrium when it comes to carving out a ‘career within a career’ as First Wife.

Modern day First Ladies from Eleanor Roosevelt through Michelle Obama have had to cope with over-achieving men while attempting to find their own equilibrium when it comes to carving out a ‘career within a career’ as First Wife.

I only remember Eleanor Roosevelt after her time in the White House, but I admire her pluck and stamina having to cope with FDR and his debilitating illness while he was dealing with the War and the depression. She was one tough cookie, and according to what I have read, handled the job well and set the tone for future spouses wanting a life of their own.

Followed by Bess Truman, a resilient Midwesterner with a no-nonsense husband, Bess didn’t make waves and supported President Harry S. Truman by keeping a lower profile than her predecessor.Post-WWII occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mamie Eisenhower, was probably the last of the walk-one-step-behind variety of wives of Presidents, often preferring the safety of the shade rather than the sunlight.Then came Jackie Kennedy and all bets were off. America found a First Lady right out of Vogue Magazine with a pedigree that qualified her for all the glitter the White House could muster.

Fortunately for her, husband Jack was comfortable in his own skin, realized her assets and promoted them to his advantage and hers. Unfortunately, America lost her deft touch and charm with the untimely death of JFK, but she remained America’s darling throughout her life. Lady Bird (Claudia Alta) Johnson will probably be remembered for her Beautify America’s Roadways Program, but anybody who knew President Johnson well also knew the kind of patience and persistence it took for this Texas woman to not only handle her First Lady role successfully, but also be a tower of strength for her husband.

The Republicans had Richard Nixon and Richard Nixon had Pat – a counterweight for his beleaguered presidency, and it appeared to America (with the wedding of their daughter Tricia) that Pat had done her best to make a home out of the ‘big house.’ Watergate cut their time short and ushered in the Ford Administration.

Betty Ford’s battles with her own demons made her a very real person with very real problems and, I believe, earned her America’s respect as she stood by her man, President Gerald Ford, who was thrust into the job when President Nixon resigned.

Rosalynn Carter seemed to be the female version of her husband, and that identity defined her four years in the White House while her husband presided over a nation in deep economic trouble and with an intractable Iranian hostage crisis. Her post-presidency work with husband Jimmy on Habitat for Humanity proved that the partnership was real and enduring.

The Reagan years saw First Lady Nancy firmly at her husband’s side. Her ‘Just Say No’ campaign to stop youthful drug addiction raised the ante on First Lady ambitions, and while some saw her as a behind-the-scenes string-puller, there was no denying that theirs was a marriage that worked well for them — and for America.

For many, Barbara Bush was the ‘bad cop’ to George H.W. Bush’ ‘good cop,’ and her forthrightness (some would say brashness) redefined the First Lady job description. Barbara Bush was not America’s Sweetheart, but did earn the unofficial title of America’s Grandmother during her time in the White House.

The next generation was waiting in the wings with First Lady Hillary Clinton, a young, well-educated go-getter. The training wheels came off when husband, Bill, raised her profile by letting her tackle one of the most ambitious challenges facing 1990s America – healthcare. After being rebuked by the medical industry, she retreated somewhat to a more traditional first spouse role. Later years would see her star rise as she became Senator from New York and then Secretary of State, something no First Lady before her could claim.

The pendulum swung back to the middle with Laura Bush in 2000, and Mrs. Bush, a former schoolteacher and librarian, took up the challenge of highlighting the problems of America’s plummeting scholastic scores with vigor, assisting her husband who was preoccupied with America’s War on Terror in the aftermath of 9/11.

Our current First Lady, Michelle Obama, decided to make one of America’s seldom addressed ills – obesity and failing child health – her cause. While avoiding the limelight, Mrs. Obama has nonetheless stepped forward from time to time and re-inserted herself into the national healthcare dialogue. By planting a healthful victory garden (like Eleanor Roosevelt did) on the White House lawn she reminds us all that some of the solutions we seek may indeed be found right beneath our feet.

I guess the bottom line is that we should all be a bit more understanding and forgiving of these brave women as they sometimes stumble and fall, making their way through the minefield of public scrutiny and criticism.

Theirs is a demanding job as any wife of any successful (or unsuccessful) man will tell you. Keep the home fires burning while not letting the flames reach the drapes. Be supportive, but truthful. Be strong, but not too forceful (at least not in public). Be aware of your appearance at all times, but remember we all have a ‘bad hair day’ once in awhile. Be the perfect hostess, but don’t get too attached to the house…it’s a rental. Remember to nurture your family, but don’t forget your extended family of 320 million.

Given that this is an unpaid job, it kind of makes you wonder why we don’t at least honor our First Ladies with a ‘Presidents’ Wives Day’ holiday. Who knows? It could be the ultimate bi-partisan piece of legislation for the next Congress, and I’m sure there are a few ex-Presidents that would support it, too.

- Editor

Pipeline delay gives Obama a fundraising bonanza

Posted on 24. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Politics

A week has passed since President Obama made his shocking announcement delaying the Keystone XL pipeline decision until after the presidential election. The news has been met with cries of victory and sighs of disappointment, but the tactic shouldn’t have surprised anyone as it totally fits with his ideology.

Additionally, TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, handed the environmentalists a win.

First, we all know that the President is fundamentally opposed to all carbon-based fuels (think Solyndra, et al)—so the pipeline’s approval was a longshot. But it would have created thousands of true shovel-ready jobs without a dollar of taxpayer money—many of which would have been union (not to mention the spin-off jobs).

The pipeline’s approval would have made the unions happy, while angering the environmentalists. Two of Obama’s solid funders were in conflict—one shouting in one ear, the other in the other ear (drowning out the voice of the American public). Waiting for the decision, watchers wondered which base held more sway.

The delay announcement, however, is a possible fundraising coup.

In April, the President announced that he would raise a record-breaking $1 billion for his reelection campaign. To date, fundraising has not been as strong as expected.

In August, when the Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline “reaffirmed the environmental integrity of the project,” environmental groups threatened to pull their support for President Obama in the upcoming election if he approved the project—some calling his environmental record disappointing and dismal. Because they have no place else to go, Obama expects them to stick with him.

Not only will environmentalists likely stick with the president, his apparent quandary invites their input—only this time, not in his ear, in his pocket.

We all know that President Obama is not immune to the influence of donors on his decisions. With less than twelve months until the 2012 election, both the unions and the environmentalists will be buying—oops, I mean vying for—his favor. While some are calling his punt indecisive or a debacle, it could be a brilliant fundraising tactic as both sides over-donate in support of their positions.

We also know that the Obama administration supports higher gas prices. The Keystone XL pipeline would have provided more stability in oil supply and pricing at a time when crude oil from Mexico and Venezuela is declining. The pipeline would have provided refiners in the Gulf region with a secure supply—and a supply from a friendly source. Less supply means higher prices. Without the XL pipeline on the horizon, prices are predicted to increase as they did following the delay announcement. Higher oil prices translate to higher prices at the pump. With the cover of environmental concerns as the cause, President Obama could put the pipeline off and raise gas prices without the average person realizing his responsibility for the increasing costs. With higher gasoline prices, the Government Motors Chevy Volt becomes more attractive—giving the president a win/win.

So President Obama chose to appease the environmental base and raise gas prices rather than to support the jobs that he claims to want. Additionally, the pipeline would have brought foreign money into the United States through increased exports of refined gasoline and provided a strong signal to the world markets that America is putting a long-term sustained strategy for expanding the domestic oil supplies we will need for decades to come. Once again, he has made a decision as America’s campaigner-in-chief rather that America’s chief champion.

While the President’s mind may have been made up regarding the Keystone XL pipeline on January 20, 2009, TransCanada made it easy for him.

TransCanada expected that the pipeline would be routinely approved—all previous cross-border pipeline requests have been granted. They went through all the open houses and public meetings, did the environmental impact studies, and endured the most exhaustive and detailed review ever conducted for a crude oil pipeline. Nebraska, and most of the United States, is already a web of pipelines. However, they chose the cheapest route for the Keystone XL pipeline—which took it through the environmentally controversial area of Nebraska’s Sand Hills. By choosing the short route, rather than adding about 250 miles of pipeline, they gave the environmentalists an unlikely alliance: Nebraska’s Republican lawmakers and traditionally conservative farmers. Because the Republicans opposed the pipeline, it gave Obama additional cover—after all, even the locals didn’t want it. Had they been willing to move the pipeline to parallel the existing Keystone pipeline, avoiding the Sand Hills, it could through without the environmental agitation planting fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

One month before President Obama made his delay announcement, the TransCanada president of energy and oil pipelines met with Nebraska state legislators. He told them: “We understand that the best solution from your perspective is to move the route. We don’t believe that is an option for us.” However, once the delay announcement was made, TransCanada has quickly agreed to re-rerouting as proposed by the Nebraska state legislature. Now they are pushing for an expedited review of the alternate route—which could allow the project to begin before the 2012 elections.

Environmentalists, angry over President Obama’s perceived weakness regarding his loosening of proposed EPA regulations, demonstrated for months to push their point—with the Center for Biological Diversity promising to keep up the public pressure. Previously, public and industry pressure made President Obama withdraw the EPA Ozone regulations. Note: public pressure works.

As America is in an economic war, we need what the Keystone XL pipeline has to offer. Keep the pressure on President Obama. Now that TransCanada has agreed to re-routing, they’ve called his bluff. Call the White House (202-456-1111) and tell President Obama to expedite the review and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Of course, if we would develop our own domestic resources, we wouldn’t Canada’s and they could send it to China who is eager to help build a Canadian pipeline to the west.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon who is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, has just been released.


 

 

Waterworks Spouts Success

Posted on 23. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Energy/Environment

Staff from the Gila Conservation Education Center (GCEC) recently completed outreach activities associated with the restoration of Silver City’s Waterworks building.

The Waterworks was established in 1887 to provide the Town with its first municipal water supply.  Located on Little Walnut Road, the stone building had rooms for steam-powered pumping equipment and a 2-story residence for the engineer. The Waterworks building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

In March of 2011, the Town of Silver City was awarded a grant from the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation to energize efforts to restore the Waterworks building.  Nancy Gordon, a volunteer for the Town, is managing the project. The Gila Conservation Education Center was awarded a contract to assist with student outreach and to implement a pre- and post-project survey.  The survey was designed to assess the effectiveness of outreach activities on public awareness about the Waterworks building and the Town’s municipal water sources.

During the spring semester, GCEC collaborated with Aldo Leopold High School students to conduct a telephone survey. Student’s phoned Town residents who have landlines and asked them if they knew the source of the Town’s municipal water, and whether they knew anything about the Waterworks building. The pre-project survey found that a high proportion of people contacted knew something about the Waterworks building, either what it was historically, or where it was located.

More than half of the pre-project respondents also knew where Silver City derived its municipal water, correctly citing the source as wells, groundwater, or underground aquifers. However, when asked where the Town’s wells were, only three people mentioned the Franks well-field and only one knew that the Town had other wells.

Eleven public presentations were given by Nancy Gordon, GCEC staff and GCEC Board Members Sue Teller-Marshall and Priscilla Mathena.  Presentations reached more than 200 students and adults, including students in Harry Browne’s math class at Aldo Leopold High School, Karen Knight’s biology classes at Silver High School, Nora Love’s 5th grade class at Jose Barrios Elementary, Ginger Masoner’s 5th grade class and Clair Hutchison’s 5th grade class at Harrison Schmitt Elementary, the Rotary Club, Unitarians, and Kiwanis Club.

Waterworks presentations were also given at a Silver City Museum brown bag lunch, the October 11th Town Council meeting, and CATS-TV has been airing a video on the history of the Waterworks for several months.  In September, more than 70 volunteers donated 900 hours to a service project in order to repoint the masonry of the historic building with traditional lime-based mortar.  Following the restoration project and outreach presentations, GCEC conducted the post-project survey.  Similar to the pre-project survey, almost half of the survey respondents knew where the Waterworks building was located on Little Walnut Road (t=0.59, df=49,p=0.55).

However, unlike the pre-project survey, the majority of post-project respondents did not know the source of Silver City’s municipal water (t = 2.29, df = 49, p = 0.03).  Of the 18 people who said they knew where the Town got its water, most cited wells and storage tanks and two people identified the Gabby Hays well-field.  The Town of Silver City obtains its municipal water from the Franks and Woodward well fields and the Gabby Hayes wells, all located southwest of Silver City between highways 180 and 90.  Future water demands for the Town are uncertain, but one study indicates that the Town’s wells will be capable of meeting domestic needs (under a 1.45% population growth rate) for the next 40 years.

The results of the project survey appear to indicate that the public outreach didn’t raise awareness of where the Waterworks is, or where Silver City’s water comes from — at least among people with landline phones.  Future efforts to inform people about the Silver City Waterworks will include a Facebook page and a display at the Silver City Public Library.  You can also receive newsletters about activities at the Waterworks by contacting Nancy Gordon at: aqua@zianet.com.

This article was submitted by Kathy Whiteman, Ph. D., Executive Director  of the Gila Conservation Education Center, 3005 E. Camino del Bosque, Silver City, NM 88061
Office: 575/388-8266

October 2011 Sales Numbers 15% Higher than October 2010

Posted on 23. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

1,148 New Mexico home sales were reported during October 2011 compared to 998 sales during October 2010.  The October 2011 number is just over 4% higher than the September 2011 number of 1,102. While the year to date number of sales for January through October 2011 is 2.7% less than the number reported for the same period in 2010, October’s activity means 2011 year to date sales are edging nearer 2010 numbers.

2011 REALTORS Association of New Mexico President Teresa Ramos just returned from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’ Annual Conference where Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said home sales should be stronger.  According to Ramos, “Yun believes there is a sizeable pent-up demand based on population growth, employment levels, and a doubling-up phenomenon that can’t continue indefinitely.  This demand could quickly stimulate the market when conditions improve.”

New Mexico median prices continue to reflect distressed sales, however, the October median of $171,500 is nearly 1% higher than the September median of $170,011.  The year-to-date comparisons reflect a bigger decrease in value with a 2011 October year to date median of $168,000 compared to a 2010 October year to date median of $174,225.  The median home price means half the homes sold for more than the median amount; half for less.

While both Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties recorded an increase in sales in October 2011 over October 2010, both counties also showed a decrease in median price comparing the same periods.  Ten New Mexico counties reported an increase in 2011 October sales over 2010 October numbers; the majority of counties reported a decrease in median price comparing the same periods.  RANM Executive Vice President M. Steven Anaya, says “Home prices have yet to show a definitive stabilization pattern in most areas.  Nationally predictions are for a moderate appreciation in 2012.”

The trends and numbers reported are only a snapshot of market activity.  If you are interested in buying or selling, consult a REALTOR familiar with your market area; he/she can provide information on specific trends in your neighborhood.

Statistical information and trends are based on information furnished by New Mexico Member Boards and MLSs to U. S. House Stats.  Current reporting participants are: Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS, Las Cruces Association of REALTORS MLIS, New Mexico Multi-Board MLS (Artesia, Carlsbad, Clovis/Portales, Deming, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Vegas, Sierra County areas), Otero County Board of REALTORS, Roswell Association of REALTORS, Ruidoso/Lincoln County Association of REALTORS, Santa Fe Association of REALTORS, San Juan County Board of REALTORS, Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS, and the Taos County Association of REALTORS. Reports represent single family residential data only.  Information does not necessarily represent all activity in any market/county.  Figures based on reports run 11/17/11.  Visit www.nmrealtor.com (housing trends) for county and board statistics.

This article was submitted by The REALTORS Association of New Mexico, one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing over 5,800 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate market.

 

Campaign Finance Reform – Now More Than Ever

Posted on 23. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Campaign finance in this country is in a very bleak place after decades of direct attacks and equally sad unintended consequences.  The Supreme Court’s 2010 landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC was the final straw in the corporate hijacking of our political system which began fully thirty years ago.

In Citizens United, the Court, after determining that corporations are in effect “people”, concluded that the First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring political broadcasts in candidate elections when those broadcasts are funded by corporations or unions. Specifically, Citizens United struck down provisions of the McCain-Feingold “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002” which prohibited all corporations – both for-profit and not-for-profit – and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications”: i.e., advertisements or other communications that mention a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary.

While Citizens United did not strike down the ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties in races for federal office – such contributions remain illegal – by giving back to corporations and unions the unlimited ability to fund political ads specifically mentioning candidates in newspapers, magazines and all forms of television, it handed to a relatively small group of CEOs near-unlimited powers of persuasion in what the Founding Fathers intended as the quintessential democratic process of the Republic.

Perhaps worse, in an electioneering system in which, as former California State Assembly Speaker and Treasurer Jesse Unruh famously said, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” it makes almost inevitable the accommodation, if not the sponsorship, of corporate interests by a relatively small number of sitting elected officials, never mind by aspiring candidates. Individual citizens, who are mostly limited to roughly $5,000 per candidate per cycle, must now come together in staggering numbers for their contributions to have the same effect in a campaign that the spending of just one determined, large corporation could have.

For example, President Obama raised $748 million for his 2008 campaign (through year-end 2008).  Of that, more than $659 million was raised from individuals, a staggering, never-before achieved level of democratized campaign capitalization.  Is it so hard to imagine, however, Big Oil, Big Pharma and the Big Banks funding their own $1 billion in an all-out bid to elect a Presidential candidate, never mind certain Senators and Members of Congress.  And the self-interested involvement of such companies on a smaller – but still relatively massive – scale is all but assured in coming elections.

Another ruling in 2010, by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, expressly applied the Citizens United ruling to say that SpeechNOW.org, a not-for-profit organization, was entitled to accept unlimited contributions from individuals for independent expenditures.  Thus, “Super PACs” were born.

Super PACs – technically, “independent-expenditure only committees” – can raise unlimited amounts for specific candidates or causes from corporations, unions and individuals.  And while these PACs can’t directly “coordinate” with campaigns, the candidates can themselves help raise money, which of course makes for a paper-thin Chinese Wall. Super PACs must disclose corporate contributions, but issue groups connected to them do not have to, so corporations now simply anonymously funnel many of their political dollars through issue groups – which really don’t have issues at hand as much as they do candidates and Party politics which they seek to advance.

Despite the sense/hope which many of us had, after passage of McCain-Feingold, for a later Congress to enact truly comprehensive campaign finance reform, this now seems as unlikely as Congress soon getting smart (and non-partisan) and adopting a meaningful “jobs policy”. However, there are some bright spots for those of us who believe the fight for campaign finance reform must continue.  And somewhat amazingly many of these “spots” are found in my home state of New York, which is not usually thought of as a leader in political reform.

Not long ago, the esteemed (non-partisan) Brennan Center for Justice, with plenty of justification, listed New York State last in terms of governance.  Our State’s record on campaign finance has not been much better. Here, an individual can give $50,000 to a candidate; there are few restraints on corporate contributions and plenty of loopholes; campaign finance scandals are a regular occurrence; and in my home city the current New York City mayor essentially purchased his third term for $105 million, after first using his unlimited personal monies to overturn term limits which the vast majority of voters put in place years earlier.

But there are three initiatives worth noting and emulating across the country.

First, as a quasi-model for all manner of campaign finance reform efforts, we in New York City already have a pretty good municipal campaign finance effort underway.  It’s not perfect, as shown by the amount of money Michael Bloomberg has been able to spend in his three campaigns and the ongoing scandal of Comptroller John Liu’s bundling practices.

Yet, despite many legal challenges over the last twenty years, all campaigns are required to disclose both contributions (i.e., who donated, the amount and their occupation and employer) and expenditures (i.e., how money was spent), which are also capped; candidates can’t accept contributions from corporations, LLCs or partnerships; and, very important, campaigns are limited in how much they can accept from entities which have business dealings with the City’s government.  Much of these requirements could, as I said, be the underpinning of meaningful federal campaign finance reform.

Second, a very serious bipartisan group has established “New York Leadership for Accountable Government” – or NYLEAD – to encourage Governor Andrew Cuomo to advance public financing legislation dedicated to advancing small-donor driven public financing.

Working alongside the Brennan Center, Americans for Campaign Reform, and Citizen Action of New York, NYLEAD is modeled on the successful program in New York City. Its leadership of prominent civic, labor and business leaders have as their goal a system of public financing which would provide for ‘multiple-match’ public financing, reasonable qualifying criteria and highly transparent voluntary spending limits.  Governor Cuomo appears supportive of this effort, which appears to be gaining real momentum.

Lastly, we in New York have the “Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending” (or CAPS).  CAPS was largely formed by City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio after the Citizens United decision, and the stated goal of its public official supporters is to curb the role of corporations in elections. This particular goal of limiting the role of corporations should be, I believe, the primary goal of any campaign finance reform effort.  It is, after all, at the end of the day the anonymous unleashing of corporations and their millions – if not hundreds of millions – of dollars which is the most pernicious aspect of the Citizens United decision.  Even the singular efforts of super wealthy individuals (like the Koch Brothers) to commandeer elections do not begin to equal the damage done to our democratic process by corporations which Citizens United has wrought.

Working with institutional investors, policy makers and voters to encourage policies that limit corporate political spending, CAPS has already begun to ignite the public pension fund activism around this issue, which I have advocated for years.  Yet even though some very prominent national companies and banks have, to their credit, already indicated that they support the principals espoused by CAPS, there are still two very important steps to take.

First, the SEC, working in conjunction with the FEC, must demand full disclosure, by recipient, of all public company political contributions and lobbying, whether or not it is “material” to the profitability of the companies. And second, where the recipient is a “bundler” or an intermediary, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the Business Roundtable, then the bundler itself, as a precondition to receiving corporate contributions, must agree to specifically disclose all of its ‘downstream recipients’ who are either in or are running for Congress.

The best voice by far to advance these outcomes would seem to be the nation’s public pension funds, which Congress would (or at least should) be hard-pressed to ignore. Now is one of those genuine turning points in electoral politics, and this time we as a nation will decide just how much influence we’re going to let corporations have over our political system.  I hope the amount is de minimus, for if we don’t largely eliminate corporate money and increase overall transparency, then for the middle class the analogy of bringing a pocket knife to a gunfight will stand true.  We will never see our economy fairly recover, we will never eliminate the unprecedented income inequality which now plagues our society, and we will never again be at real full employment.

This article was submitted by Leo Hindery Jr. who is chair of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, co-chair (with Leo Gerard) of The Task Force on Jobs Creation, founder of Jobs First 2012, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessors, Tele-Communications, Inc. and Liberty Media, and is currently an investor in media companies.


 

It’s Time to Own Up!

Posted on 13. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics

Today, President Obama signed an executive order banning government ‘giveaway’ items like notepads, special pens, coffee mugs, etc. that Departments have customarily used at conferences and other official gatherings. I don’t object to this specific EO because it spotlights the drip, drip, drip of ‘budget creep’ that is an integral part of Federal Washington, evidenced by the now famous $16 muffins.

A reduction of USG travel is also a part of the new EO. I hope that one of the consequences of this action will be the President staying home with his wife and family a bit more AND leaving Air force One in the hangar and the phalanx of black SUVs in the garage. I’m sure he could also find some work to do once somebody shows him where his office is. (OK, I admit that was unkind, but maybe warranted given all the politicking the President has done in the past few months.)

During the signing ceremony, the President reiterated his mantra of blaming our current financial crisis on other people and inanimate objects. His words “…I suppose this is, (because of) the deficits we’ve inherited and those that have grown as a consequence of the recession…” are remarkable for what they don’t say.

The right response might have been some variation on the following theme: “Admittedly, this is a small step to reduce government spending and our burgeoning deficit, part of which I inherited from the previous administration and part of which I made worse by my policies, aided by a partisan Congress.” Good luck on getting that one at the press briefing.

Congratulations go to the word-spinners at the White House who have succeeded in creating a language that enables the President to absolve himself, his advisers and his Party of any blame for anything that has been done since January 20, 2009.

It is truly a remarkable language, and it has been adopted by Cabinet Secretaries as well. It was observed at Congressional Hearings yesterday where Attorney General, Eric Holder was on the hot seat. While Holder was being questioned about his role in the ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-walking debacle, Sen. John Cornyn asked the AG if he had contacted the family of slain Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Holder looked surprised at the question and said, “no.”

Then, he was asked if he had apologized for the death of Agent Terry or would like to now. Rising to the occasion, Holder adopted the newspeak of responsibility avoidance and ducked the question by saying that he “regretted” Terry’s death.

This is a sterling example of the non-apology apology that has become so popular: “If I have offended anyone with this statement or actions, I regret it.” While these weasel-worded statements may protect people from responsibility, culpability or civil suits, they are simply cowardly.

Americans want their government populated by people with moral courage and conviction, individuals who can answer questions in short declarative sentences. What they don’t want is a bunch of mealy-mouthed bureaucrat lawyers whose specialty is truth avoidance.

I would bet my prized copy of William Safire’s ‘Political Dictionary’ that the current crew of politicos in DC were pretty good at getting out of jams as teenagers. I’m sure that more than a couple of them used these two: “My dog ate my homework” and “The tree came out of nowhere and struck the car, Dad.”

After three years of obfuscation and the verbal two-step around the truth, many of us are hungry for accountability. Unfortunately, there is another group of us that has been desensitized to the truth having embraced the version that passes for it these days. The coming Presidential contest will test our patience and our alertness. We must stay awake and be critical of what we hear…from all sides of the podium.

- Editor

Public Pension Reform and the “Little Engine That Could”

Posted on 11. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

Rhode Island’s General Treasurer Gina Raimondo is easily my nominee for the “Little Engine That Could” award.  Her politically courageous efforts to reform her State’s broken and dramatically underfunded $14.8 billion public pension system are a high-stakes, against-the-odds example of lofty political leadership that deserves accolades. And if she succeeds, then a road map of acute sensitivity and wise choices will exist for every other Treasurer in the Union to follow.

Here are the facts – and sobering ones they are.

Rhode Island’s State pension fund now consumes 10% of every State tax dollar, and this figure is currently projected to double within just the next few years. In addition, there at least 155 (!!) municipal pension plans in Rhode Island outside the State system that are in the same dire straits. As Treasurer Raimondo recently said in describing her challenge, “Either the pension fund runs out of money or cities go bankrupt.” The small town of Central Falls, north of Providence, already has failed financially.

And the root problem? Until just this year, Rhode Island calculated its pension number by assuming an average annual rate of return on its investments of 8.25% – in fact, for the last decade its actual average return on investment was only about 2.40%. And in each of the last 10 years the State’s fund paid more money to retirees than the fund collected from State employees and taxpayers combined. (New York Times, 10-22-11) The same can be said of most of the many municipal funds and their towns’ employees and taxpayers.

Rhode Island is a microcosm of what’s wrong with the country’s $3 trillion worth of public pensions plans in the aggregate, and it’s truly the ‘canary in the (national pension crisis) coal mine’. The State – just like 49 other States – made promises it didn’t sufficiently fund along the way and now can’t keep. That bill has come due, so to speak, and as Treasurer Raimondo describes, the State is being forced to choose among the State reneging on both past and future promises to workers, undermining its future by cutting back on investing in everything from schools to green energy to health care, or, even though in the midst of an ongoing recession, raising revenues through large tax increases.

I have met with Treasurer Raimondo, and few in the country seem as capable intellectually and policy-wise of sensitively and fairly cutting this Gordian Knot.  And it took great political courage for her to step into this breach, courage of the sort we need to see more of in every State Capitol.

I particularly applaud Ms. Raimondo’s outspokenness and transparency as she balances between keeping as many of the State’s promises as she can while preserving the State’s ability to serve its people and invest in its future. Too many other officeholders – in Ohio and Wisconsin, just to name two States – are using their State pension problems as an excuse to eviscerate the status and compensation of public employees and take away their rights to fair bargaining.

The proposed Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011 (RIRSA) would move to a combined defined benefit and defined contribution plan that fairly spreads the market risk of the system across both taxpayers and employees. Going forward, State employees and teachers will pay a smaller amount of their paychecks into the defined benefit system, but will henceforth also contribute into their own retirement accounts.

Smartly, until the entire system is again financially healthy and at actuarially acceptable funding levels – i.e., no more 8% ‘gaps’ between assumed and actual returns on investments – cost of living adjustments or COLAs will be suspended. And to put the State properly behind the reforms, protections similar to those now found in the Federal Pension Protection Act will be the “law of the State”. Finally, vitally important albeit somewhat nuanced, there will be self-correcting mechanisms to ensure that Rhode Island never faces this challenge again.

The only place I disagree with the Treasurer is in moving the retirement age past 65, which is the same recommendation which the so-called “Deficit Commission” made last November related to Social Security.

The premise behind the recommendation to increase the retirement age from 65 to 68 or 69 – namely, that average life expectancy is rising – may sound OK but in fact it is flawed in the extreme and equally insensitive. While life expectancy is indeed rising, it’s doing so mainly for high earners who least need pension plans (and Social Security) – for those in the bottom half of the income distribution, which includes the preponderance of State workers, life expectancy hasn’t budged for thirty years.

A better alternative – for the States and for federal Social Security – is to eliminate any caps on taxable wages beyond which self contributions to either a pension plan or Social Security cease. (In the case of Social Security, rather than (again) penalizing the hardest working Americans there should also be “means testing” so that only those individuals who need it get it.)

But this suggested alternative is just one nit to an otherwise perfectly fair solution to the unprecedented financial crisis confronting Rhode Island. Even though the State’s public employees and retirees must feel betrayed as they are asked to concede some of what had been promised to them, they must understand that it was those who made the promises and then administered the plans with faulty assumptions who let them down.

And when RIRSA, or something very close to it, is enacted by the Legislature, then Rhode Island really will be the “Little Engine That Could”.

This article was submitted by Leo Hindery Jr. who is chair of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, co-chair (with Leo Gerard) of The Task Force on Jobs Creation, founder of Jobs First 2012, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and its predecessors, Tele-Communications, Inc. and Liberty Media, and is currently an investor in media companies.


 

 

Salazar’s new order contradicts his 2010 order

Posted on 11. Nov, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

Weeks after the infamous BP oil spill in late-April 2010, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the agency that managed leasing and regulation, was split up into three parts.

Addressing the reorganization, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said: “We will be able to strengthen oversight of the companies that develop our nation’s energy resources.” He addressed a perceived conflict of interest between departments due to the leasing and regulatory functions being in one agency—one brings in revenue and one regulates (and perhaps punishes) the businesses generating the income. His mid-May 2010 actions bring his new Secretarial Order to reorganize a different agency into question.

On October 26, 2011, Secretary Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3315 that will consolidate the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The Order states that “fee collections” and “regulation, inspection and enforcement, and state program oversight” will now be integrated—the very tasks split out within the MMS reorganization.

Because this new order seems in direct contradiction to the 2010 SO 3299, it raises suspicion as to the true purpose of the agency reorganization—especially since the impacted industry is the administration’s favorite villain—coal.  SO 3315 was announced to the surprise of most in the industry and to those in OSM. Charlie Boddy, a mining and government relations consultant with more than 40 years in the industry and former VP of government relations with Usibelli Coal Mine Inc., said when he first heard the announcement, he thought it was a joke. “It is,” he said, “without a doubt, the most bizarre proposal to come out of the Obama Administration.”

The fact that there was no consultation with the stakeholders, states, or Congress raises additional concerns. If there was a desire to work with the industry, the general belief is that they would have been involved. The order’s surprise element can’t mean good things for coal mining.

On November 4, as a part of a hearing on an investigation into a re-write of the 2008 Stream Buffer Zone Rule, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) stated: “In addition, we will also discuss the recent Secretarial Order requiring the merger of the Office of Surface Mining with the Bureau of Land Management. A proposal I am deeply concerned about impacting the ability of the nation’s ability to access our vast coal resources. Furthermore there are clear statutory limitations prohibiting the OSM from leasing or promoting coal, which is a key responsibility of the BLM.”

Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued the following statement: “I have serious concerns about this Secretarial Order to suddenly and dramatically alter the management of coal mining and the multiple-use of Western BLM lands. The Obama Administration has not made secret its desire to put an end to America’s coal-mining industry, and this appears to be one more step in that direction.”

Because of the “bombshell” nature of the announcement, the administration’s attitude toward the coal industry, the totally different missions of the OSM and the BLM, and the fact that they operate under different specific provisions and acts of Congress, the proposed merger can only be considered suspect.

In an internal memo to the DOI team, Secretary Salazar states: “This integration reflects our ongoing commitment to good government” and claims that it is about “Doing more in a limited budget environment.” The OSM is a little agency by comparison to the BLM. OSM’s 2011 budget appropriation is about $160 million compared to more than $1.1 billion for BLM. OSM has about 500 employees, compared to 10,000 at BLM. “In the scheme of government fat, OSM is one of the tiniest little targets you can take aim at,” said Kathy Karpan, a former OSM director. “It’s a little, tiny entity that would be lost at BLM.”

Industry sources fear that OSM will be lost inside the BLM and view the move as a way to make coal mining more difficult; to delay permitting. Normally a coal mine can be permitted through OSM in less than a year. Permitting of a hard rock mine through the BLM can take 7-10 years. The OSM primarily deals with mines on private or Indian lands—mostly in the east. They cooperate with the states. They do regulation.

The BLM primarily deals with federal lands—mostly in the west. They have little experience with private lands or state agencies. They generate revenues. Like last year’s SO 3310 that circumvented Congress’ unique ability to designate Wilderness Areas by creating a new “Wild Lands” designation, SO 3315 brings authority into question. Insiders believe that a reorganization of this magnitude requires congressional action.

Some industry groups are taking a wait-and-see approach: “It may be a good idea, but no one really knows.” Coal mining companies are still evaluating, but initial reactions are not supportive. History tells us that we do not need to “wait and see.” The longer there is silence, the harder it will be to reverse the order, which is scheduled to become effective December 1, 2011—following consultation with applicable congressional committees and will remain in effect until “amended, superseded, or revoked, whichever occurs first.”

While this may seem like a little issue in light of all the big problems we are facing in America, it is one more in a string of power grabs designed to take away authority from the states and move it to the federal government—meaning more centralized power. Don’t let them slip it in until “revoked.” Call Congress and stop SO 3315 before it starts.

Ultimately, less coal mining means job cuts, higher electricity prices, and a diminished America.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon who is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, has just been released.


Bad Behavior has blocked 221 access attempts in the last 7 days.