This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with New Mexico’s State Representative Angelica Rubio:
What is unique about protecting your state’s resources?
Having grown up in the Southeastern part of the state and now serve in the Southwestern part of the state, one of the things important for me to work on is not only New Mexico’s on oil and gas industry, but also on mining and coal and uranium. Regardless of what type of damage it does to our environment and the quality of air, it directly impacts public health. I feel that New Mexico has a number of resources we could be protecting. We need to not necessarily look at this from a place of needing jobs, but more of how we can be a leader in creating a roadmap to at least slow down the effects of climate change.
What environmental justice issues resonate the most with families living in New Mexico?
At the state level, we are already facing a crisis when it comes to the issue of water management and drought. We are trying to fix the issues, looking at it from a public health problem. A lot of the work I do comes through a racial and economic lens. I work with people directly impacted by drought, the people who have always been marginalized on a number of different issues. We need to be intentional about how we talk about climate change here. Communities of color and low-income families are usually the people who are going to be most heavily, and most harshly affected by the effects of climate change.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important? How can efforts to address clean air and climate change be achieved in our current political climate?
I think we might be on a good trajectory at the state level. Some of my colleagues in the House and Senate recognize that even though marginalized communities are directly impacted by issues of environmental justice, we are all equally going to suffer because of climate change. We’ve had serious dialogues around how New Mexico can be a leader in moving away from oil and gas, and also transition into clean energy. I am hopeful that is possible.
What do you think the biggest barriers are to taking action on climate and air pollution in New Mexico?
The biggest barrier is how dependent we’ve been on an industry. It’s not only provided and given so much to our state economically, but also to our families. There are oil and gas families, particularly in the Southeast part of the state, and those who have been part of the uranium and mining industry in the Northwest, where this is part of their livelihood. I think the biggest barrier is how we challenge New Mexican citizens to think beyond what they’ve always known and talk about protecting our environment and protecting our people too.
Is there anything that you would like to share with Moms Clean Air Force’s one million members?
For me, environmental justice issues have been a huge part of the efforts I’ve worked on over my term in the last two years. I’ve been incredibly honored to serve in those committees. I think I give a new perspective. There is still a lot of work to do.
Angelica Rubio was born and raised in New Mexico by immigrant parents. She has established herself as a fierce advocate for consumer protection, social justice, and a committed change agent. Angelica was elected to the New Mexico State Legislature in 2016, representing District 35 in Las Cruces. She currently serves on the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee, as well as Labor & Economic Development, Courts, Corrections, & Justice, and Radioactive & Hazardous Materials.