Rep. Pearce: Protect Our Public Lands

Sep 23, 2017

Commentary:  New Mexico, like every other state, elects individuals to represent our best interests in the nation’s capital. To do this job well, from what I learned about leadership serving in the US Navy, one must display certain qualities, including honor, honesty, and integrity.

Representative Steve Pearce, who represents the people of southern New Mexico, continues to miss the mark on what it takes to make a good leader.

Last week he voted yet again in Congress to make it easier for the federal government to transfer our lands into private hands.  Despite hisstatements to the contrary, Pearce consistently votes in support of selling off or transferring our public lands to states or otherwise reducing or removing public lands protections. If Pearce’s votes actually resulted in enacted policies, public lands that belong to all Americans, and are part of our birthright to be treated as a legacy for future generations to enjoy, could be sold off to companies that seek to privatize what’s ours to increase their profits.

Public lands should be important to everybody. Hunters, anglers, hikers, equestrians, and other outdoors enthusiasts rely on them to pursue their passions. They’re important for families and friends as places to forge and maintain bonds. Native American tribes use our public lands for ceremonies, staying connected with their ancestors, and subsistence activities such as gathering of firewood and pinon.  They’ve important to ranchers who use the land to graze livestock.  And public lands drive New Mexico’s outdoor economy which contributes $9.9 billion annually to our state’s economy, supporting 99,000 jobs. Public lands are important to all of us.

Unfortunately, the willingness to undermine our public lands at the bequest of special interests is the norm for Rep. Pearce. He urged U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reduce the size Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument by 88 percent, ignoring the wishes of most New Mexicans. Apparently, Rep. Pearce believes that our public lands have no value, except for whatever scheming use private ownership could have in store.

Steve Pearce demonstrated his disdain for the public interest in his recent amendment to make it easier for oil and gas wells to leak, vent or flare natural gas. I am not a hippie activist, but I do care about the health and well-being of my fellow New Mexicans, and I’m angry to learn that escaped methane equals millions of dollars of taxpayers’ resources being wasted. We need those dollars to fund schools, roads, and other basic requirements to function in the first world.

Acting without honor is nothing new to politics, but as a citizen I am obligated to call it how I see it, and in Steve Pearce I see a man looking out for his own interests, and the interests of his political donors such as the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil, over the interests of the people who elected him.

What is especially frustrating is how Rep. Pearce exhibits dishonesty. His recent comments about Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument exemplify this. This past June, Pearce misled Congress and the public during a Congressional hearing by waving around what he said was a list of 800 people and businesses opposed to the monument. But he’s never released that list publicly and all evidence points to him using a list that is 7 years old, was created for a different purpose, and actually contains monument supporters on it.

Rep. Pearce has also repeatedly claims that businesses, ranchers, border security personnel, and outdoorsmen are negatively impacted by the monument.  But he offers zero facts. The truth is that ranching continues at the same levels as prior to the monument’s designation, sportsmen are ecstatic about the monument and haven’t been negatively impacted, and there have been no impacts from the monument on law enforcement, illegal immigration, or community safety.

I implore Rep. Pearce to speak factually and accurately about all issues of concern to New Mexicans. He does everyone a grave injustice by being untruthful, spreading misinformation, and speaking one way but voting oppositely.

MaryAnn Hendrickson

Born and reared in North Carolina, MaryAnn joined the Navy on graduation from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Upon retirement from the Navy she moved to sunny, beautiful Las Cruces, New Mexico. Here she is serving the community as a member of the board of the High Range Neighborhood Association, KTAL-LP community radio, Dona Ana County Democratic Women and is a member of the local Pottery Guild of Las Cruces. She’s married and has an assortment of well-loved dogs and cats.