Letters to the editor

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Electricity rates will be going up in the future
Editor:
Concerned about near-future electricity rates?  You should be!
Let’s just take a brief look at what is presently in existence for New Mexico energy users. We’ll look at federal regulations first:
• In August, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule requiring selective catalytic reduction controls to be installed by PNM at the San Juan Generating Station.
EPA estimates it will cost PNM $345 million. PNM contends it will cost $750 million or possibly one billion.
These costs are to control “Regional Haze.” You and I will pay for this through increased electricity rates, probably beginning in 2013. What will we get for our money?  Not much.
You need to get your “deciviews” in line for this explanation! A deciview  is the unit of measure the EPA has come up with to measure visibility.  One dv is the change in visibility discernable by the human eye. For $1 billion dollars, you might get a whopping 1.34 deciview improvement.
But wait! Our own New Mexico Environment Department came up with a plan that would only cost $77 million, and the EPA totally rejected it — didn’t even consider it!
If you want to give public support for the “lesser of the evils,” log on to PNM’s website called www.supportthenmplan.com, which allows you to tell your senators and representatives to overturn the EPA ruling.
The website also provides background and links to news articles and editorials. One of the articles written was mine, titled “EPA Uses Scare Tactics For Their Own Reasons.”
The Rio Grande Foundation and  Competitive Enterprise Institute blogged a new study: EPA’s Shocking New Mexico Power Grab www.cei.org/other-studies/epas-shocking-new-mexico-power-grab that is well worth reading.
Now we’ll talk about regulations and laws imposed on us at the state level:
• In December 2010, our very own Environmental Improvement Board imposed regulations for a Cap and Trade Program that will increase electric rates at least 9 percent with no benefit to the environment.
There are some concerned citizens who have been working to encourage the new EIB to repeal New Mexico Cap and Trade regulations, which will be decided in February 2012.
Cap and Trade is a regressive carbon tax that will affect us all for no environmental benefit. Also in December 2010, the EIB imposed regulations concerning greenhouse gas emissions. There are upcoming hearings also to repeal these regulations.
• Also at the state level, my “pet peeve” favorite subject:  New Mexico’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.  SB 418, passed by the N.M. Legislature in 2007, needs to be repealed.
SB 418 is the bill that mandates the Renewable Portfolio Standards on New Mexico’s public utilities and rural electric utilities.
RPS means that PNM is required by state law to get 15 percnet of their power from renewable (solar, wind and biogas) energy by 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. It now stands at 6 percent.
Rural electric co-ops must have 5 percent by 2015 increasing to 10 percent by 2020.
Energy from coal and nuclear is not allowed even though coal is the most affordable and nuclear is the cleanest in terms of greenhouse gases.
As of April 2009, there are 28 states with renewable portfolio standards, which means that not all states have adopted this policy. The only reason New Mexico has a renewable portfolio standard is because former Gov. Richardson wanted it for his “green energy legacy” and our Legislature went along with it.
Over the next eight years, by 2020, New Mexicans could pay as much as $2.3 billion dollars more for electricity because the Legislature imposed this law on our utility companies, with zero effect on the environment!
Even though some customers do get a “break” on their rates through different programs offered by PNM, any break on rates is subsidized by all the other ratepayers.
All states with renewable portfolio standards have higher energy rates than the states that don’t. With New Mexico being a poor state in the first place, coupled with the bad economy, the last thing we should be doing is penalizing businesses and citizens with higher utility rates.
Having a “Renewable Portfolio Standard” for New Mexico is total insanity!
Just these three items alone are enough to have serious economic and personal consequences, and there’s more coming down the pike such as cross-state EPA rules, EPA rules that are designed to close down coal-fired power plants resulting in job losses and extremely high electric rates, and heavens knows what other regulations EPA will have in store for us.
We just know that EPA’s Lisa Jackson will do Obama’s bidding by making electric rates “necessarily skyrocket.”
Since SB 418 was voted on in 2007, there are some legislators, of course, who are not still in office. But there are plenty of legislators remaining who voted for this legislation who will be up for re-election in 2012 if you feel inclined to vote them out of office.

Donna Crawford
Los Lunas

There are safer ways to protect our crops
Editor:
There have been numerous letters about the topic of the GM crops, some saying they are dangerous for our health, others are believing because scientists have come up with all this research that it must be safe, after all they are scientists and should be putting out the truth.
Maybe we should consult the worms who will not eat GM corn because they know they will die if they eat it.  Could it be that the worms are of higher intelligence than humans.
I have eaten GM corn, the cobs are beautiful and they taste good, but I no longer eat it since I found out that the reason worms won’t eat it is because there is a pesticide introduced somehow into the seeds.
Like the kings who have their food tasters to protect them from possible poisoning, I think I will let the little old worms be my food tasters and if they survive it should be safe for me to eat too.
There are safe ways to protect crops without all the poisons and more efforts should be made to improve and encourage those methods.

Gunhild Vetter
Bosque Farms

Colleges need better oversight
Editor:
It was, indeed, pleasing and refreshing to learn that the governing body of Penn State stepped up to the plate and did its job when they moved to fire the president and the football coach.
The board’s actions give me some hope that things may turn around in higher education athletics, and that once again, learning and preparation of students for life’s challenges instead of athletics may become the focus of the billions currently being spent on post-secondary education in this country.
Penn State’s Board, in my opinion, did the right thing!  Given the gravity of the allegations that were made, President Graham Spanier and Coach Paterno needed to go.
They and the athletic director, Tim Curley, along with the senior vice-president, Gary Schultz, were, clearly, derelict in carrying out their responsibilities, regardless of legal technicalities.
I don’t care to hear that some didn’t have the whole story or any other excuse for not asking an outside law enforcement agency to investigate when there was clear indication from assistant football coach Mike McCreary, that there was something very wrong going on; children being sexually abused.
The buck stopped where it needed to stop — at the top!
I have argued before that even in the smaller universities such as UNM, where we have a multi-million dollar athletic department, expenditure of billions, nationally, is being misdirected.
What makes us believe that all our post-secondary institutions, four-year and some two-year, must offer competitive athletic programs in order to attract students and support from their respective communities?
Why is it that New Mexico Tech gets along so well without an expensive athletic department? Tech does a superb job of attracting students, faculty and community support and, produces high caliber scientists and engineers.
Am I missing something?
The problem, in my mind’s eye, is that athletic departments and their programs, particularly football and basketball, have grown in size and stature to the point where like some private corporations are viewed as too big for governments and governing bodies to allow to fail.
Something is very wrong when athletic directors and coaches become as, if not more, powerful than the institution’s president.
In some instances they are even paid as much or more than the CEO with many of the same perks and golden parachutes.
According to syndicated columnist George Will, the football coaches at LSU and Alabama earn $4.6 million per year and $3.75 million per year, respectively. This is incredible!
Here at home, UNM’s basketball coach earns more than $1 million per year in addition to some very lucrative benefits.
I am curious to know why Occupy Wall Street followers and other like-minded individuals including Obama and other politicians don’t decry this outrageous practice, particularly since, for the most part, they are publicly funded institutions.
Apparently, it is OK to complain about wealthy corporate leaders and others who hold the nation’s wealth in their hands but, see no problem with higher education tycoons.
Penn State’s fiasco is a clear statement of what can happen when powerful athletic departments are allowed to operate in an almost unbridled fashion.
In this case, Coach Paterno was viewed as a God, who through divine intervention, was shielded from human frailties.
In retrospect, it is clear to me that here at home, the integrity and demise of UNM’s athletic and, to a degree, academic programs, started when Gov. Richardson interfered in the operation and replaced the board of regents and administration with his cronies who just like him, were more interested in athletics than academics.
The UNM athletic department has had its share of missteps under Krebs’ watch, the Locksley calamity being the latest.
At the moment, UNM’s  athletic tide is high because of a very good basketball program and, this year, a winning soccer team. This, however, does not begin to justify the millions, public and private, being spent to glorify certain administrators and athletics while academics continue to take a backseat.
It is a blessing in disguise to see Schmidly go. My feeling is that Athletic Director Krebs should follow suit and that UNM athletics should be redirected and placed in proper perspective and order of importance in New Mexico’s higher education system.
In any event, it is my hope that the financial crisis the country and the world are experiencing, coupled with debate about “haves and have nots,” plus the Penn State blowout will prompt state and national athletic organizations and politicians to examine, openly and objectively, college athletics.
As well, I am hopeful that institutions will revisit their mission statements and carefully examine athletics to determine, clearly, how those programs fit into state and, ultimately, national goals.
Higher education like public education in this country must reflect an expenditure of dollars that gives us the best return in terms of preparing students for the world of work and life in general.
It must, undoubtedly, be viewed as part of the learning continuum that starts at conception and only stops when life ends.

John Lopez
Bosque Farms

Occupy Belen won’t be going anywhere
Editor:
Occupy Belen was born today (Nov. 19) on the steps of city hall. Attending this important event were Belen’s Holy Family, the good folks from Occupy Los Lunas and many passing motorists who tooted their support and approval.
On the rear window of my truck is the word “Occupy.” For a while, I was confused about that this word meant. I was confused when I heard people from the frontline say that Occupy is not going away. “We’re here to stay.”
I wondered how they would survive the winter. Surely, the bad weather, along with the awful sense of big city police/protester collisions would end their enthusiasm.
I’m no longer confused. I understand now what this word means, and why the protesters are not going home. Occupy means our house is on fire. That’s how serious the problems are that confront our nations. From political corruption to the ongoing attacks on students, workers, seniors and veterans, these problems are quite bad, and require a now response or we will lose our house.
We, the people, know that something is very wrong when communism (11 percent) has a higher approval rating that Congress (9 percent). We are outraged when our cry for jobs result in the latest Congressional crap proclaiming “pizza is a vegetable.”
Patriotic Americans are fed up and are speaking out publicly and privately because our elected officials are not listening.
The 1 percent, who are largely responsible for this awful mess, and their paid prostitutes, want us to go home. We must not, cannot and will not until the fire is out and our house is restored.
We are the 99 percent. This is our house. We will not let you destroy it.
Occupy Belen happens every Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. All are welcome.

Marie Forman
Belen