Las Cruces, NM – In early January Governor Martinez appointed Harrison Schmitt to the post. After announcing the nomination, Martinez stated Schmitt's diverse background gives him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will be helpful in guiding the responsible development and protection of New Mexico's diverse natural resources.
Schmitt served as a Mission Scientist on the Apollo 11 mission and flew in space as part of the Apollo 17 mission. After his career at NASA, Schmitt was elected to the United States Senate in 1976 and served in office for six years.
The Southwest Environmental Center is urging New Mexico lawmakers to vote against Schmitt's confirmation because of what they call his "extreme" views on climate change and other issues. On his website, he states the global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision-making.
The Southwest Environmental Center is a Las Cruces-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of native wildlife and their habitats in the Southwestern Borderlands.
Southwest Environment Center Executive Director Kevin Bixby says the nomination is irresponsible.
Bixby-"Schmitt's views are not in the main stream and frankly it's dangerous to put someone like Schmitt and his extreme views in a position of such great importance and responsibility for the state of NM is absolutely irresponsible. It is both irresponsible for NM and the southwest environment, but also for our economy because climate change has the potential to do great economic harm. I think putting Mr. Schmitt in this position is sending the wrong message and taking us in the wrong direction."
Bixby also says Schmitt has criticized efforts to protect federal public lands such as Otero Mesa and the Organ Mountains.
Bixby-"He considers efforts to protect extraordinary natural landscapes as federal land grabs that are unconstitutional. That is clearly nonsense we have a tradition of setting aside and protecting our most important natural areas like our national parks. For the past 8 years the state of NM has been a leader in the effort to protect places like Otero Mesa and this would be an abrupt change of position to abandon that effort."
The state legislature has convened and the senate must approve Schmitt's nomination during the sixty day session. A request for comment from Governor Martinez was not answered.