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N.M. advocates join climate march in New York

Members of the New Mexico delegation at the March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City on Sept. 17.
Demonstration is set to coincide with U.N. Climate Ambition Summit

Environmental advocates from New Mexico attended a march in New York City this weekend to demand the end of fossil fuel extraction and use.

The march in Manhattan brought an estimated 75,000 participants from across the country, including about 50 New Mexicans from a variety of advocacy groups. The demonstration came in advance of this week’s U.N. Climate Ambition Summit in New York.

The group of New Mexicans who participated in the march were led by Indigenous and youth advocates who carried an 18-foot long banner addressing President Joe Biden and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that said, “New Mexico is Burning, Biden and MLG: Climate Action Now!”

“A collective of grassroots movements across the state of New Mexico is joining other front line movements who mobilize around a No False Solutions narrative to bring light to the financialization and continued commodification of our natural and cultural resources,” Julia Bernal, executive director of Pueblo Action Alliance, said in a news release about the demonstration. “We’re bringing a unified grassroots message to the international platform to demand our elected leaders take bold climate action that doesn’t continue the legacy of harm and extraction that has negatively impacted our ancestral territories for generations.”

The advocates also delivered what they called the New Mexico Declaration for Climate Justice to federal and state officials as well as the United Nations. The declaration calls for stopping new extraction and phasing out existing extraction of fossil fuels. It also calls carbon capture and hydrogen false solutions and urges the leaders to reject them.

In a statement following the march, Celina Montoya-Garcia, a member of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh who serves as the land and body violence coordinator with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, called the climate crises “the most heartbreaking issue that we see today.”

She said the extractive industry is damaging more than just the environment.

“It’s destroying the future of sustainability for our future grandchildren. Not only are the pipeline and oil industries depleting our life source, but they are also precipitating violence against ‘Our First Environment.’ Our life-givers are facing high rates of gender-based violence from non-Indigenous perpetrators working in temporary man camps,” Montoya-Garcia said. “We must protect our Mother Earth. This isn’t just an Indigenous issue; it’s an everyone issue. Money doesn’t water the food that feeds our community. Money doesn’t water the corn that we hold in our palms for prayer. Our Mother Earth is perishing before our eyes.”

She said the state has a “plethora of renewable resources that are being ignored” and urged policymakers to end fossil fuel production immediately.

Melissa Troutman lives in the Permian Basin and serves as the climate and energy advocate for WildEarth Guardians. She said there is “no future for anyone without an end to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – quickly.”

Troutman has lived in front line communities where extraction has occurred for 13 years and said people in those communities are dying as a result of the fossil fuel industry.

“Our elders and our children are riddled with strange diseases and cancers that health professionals are just now linking to the extraction of fossil fuels,” she said. “But we have known it all along. It is well past time for everyone to demand that this atrocity inside our communities and across the world come to an end.”

This story was written by Hannah Grover and has been republished here from NM Political Report.