Pearce talks Energy, Jobs, and Marijuana in Q&A Forum with Students
Shortly after Congressman Pearce’s address to the student body on the importance of civic engagement last Wednesday, Pearce entertained questions concerning his gubernatorial campaign and his political inclinations. Techies were not reluctant to ask Congressman Pearce questions about controversial topics and were candid about their expectations of officials in the executive office.
The first question that was asked pertained to clean and renewable energy development in New Mexico. Congressman Pearce firmly stated that he supports clean and renewable energy “one hundred percent,” but went on to explain how volatile our state economy is because of its heavy dependence on oil and gas. Pearce explained that “35 percent of our state’s budget come from two counties… because of their massive production of oil and gas” and emphasized the importance of investment into other sectors of the job market economy in order to decrease the volatility of the state economy. “When oil and gas prices fall, so will the rest of our economy,” Pearce said. “We’ve got to find alternative industries to help balance out the New Mexican economy.” He went on to explain that our biggest challenges with energy production is not the production, but the retention of energy for transportation or future use.
Another student asked Congressman Pearce about his opinions on nuclear energy. Pearce expressed his support for nuclear energy development in New Mexico, and he explained that nuclear energy was the best alternative to oil and gas, and even to other sources of clean energy like wind and solar. Pearce talked about how New Mexico has some of the best nuclear research institutions in the world, and pushed for nuclear energy research and innovation to push New Mexico beyond the light-water reactors designed over fifty years ago. “Science is our forte,” Pearce said. “There’s no reason why we should be trailing behind in innovation and implementation. We’ve been last in all the right things, and first in all the wrong things, for too long. It’s time that we become first in some of the right things.” Pearce talked about how, in Europe, nuclear reactors send their waste through an enrichment process that enables the waste to be reused for energy production. Pearce expressed interest in standardizing designs for nuclear reactors similar to the European ones. Pearce explained that the only thing keeping us from having better nuclear reactors is “political opposition”, but that if he is elected to office, he will push to overcome that opposition.
Another student asked Congressman Pearce about his stances on recreational or medical marijuana. Congressman Pearce was adamant about fighting the drug abuse and addition problems that New Mexico faces, saying that that is one of his “top priorities”. Pearce expressed openness about medical marijuana but stated that it needs to be better regulated. However, he was hesitant to endorse recreational marijuana because of his plan to fight addition, and explained that “we need to be careful that we are not sending mixed signals.”
When asked why he was running for governor, Congressman Pearce said that he was passionate about creating an economy in New Mexico that works for everybody. Pearce pushed for legislation that will help create jobs for college graduates, but also explained that students who don’t go to college should have job options, too. He pushed for apprenticeship and certificate programs in schools to equip and enable young people to get good-paying blue-collar jobs. He moved to invest in local agricultural industries and to incentivize things like organic and hydroponic greenhouses in order to make New Mexico more food independent and self-sufficient. He also explained that there are many financial incentives and resources available for school lunches to states who incentivize hydroponic food production. Pearce also pushed to increase tourism to New Mexico, but said that in order to do that we need to address our infrastructural needs.
Pearce explained that New Mexico needs more than just short-term solutions to address the problems associated with crumbling infrastructure. Pearce explained that he plans to develop a long-term plan with specific goals set in place to help improve the state’s infrastructure, and he said that his short-term goals were to invest in the internet and transportation infrastructure throughout the state. That investment includes implementing toll booths on roads where commercial transportation is prevalent; implementing better modes of public transportation from Albuquerque to Las Cruces; and increasing the availability of underground fiber optic lines for anyone who wants it.