protect the west celebration

Western Resource Advocates presented New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham with its 2019 Leadership in Conservation Award during its annual Protect the West celebration Thursday night. The award recognizes Lujan Grisham’s work to secure enactment of New Mexico’s bold new law requiring the state’s electricity grid to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045. Colorado House Speaker KC Becker, who this year led the successful effort to pass Colorado’s Climate Action Plan to Reduce Carbon, presented the award to the governor.

“This year, Western states made tremendous strides to act on climate and protect our land, air, and water, despite significant backpedaling at the federal level,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of Western Resource Advocates. “WRA is proud to recognize Governor Lujan Grisham, who was instrumental in advancing landmark clean energy legislation this year in New Mexico, with this award. Thanks to her leadership, New Mexico is showing states across the nation that it is possible to transition away from fossil fuels while creating jobs, investing in local clean energy, and reducing electricity bills. We look forward to continued collaboration with her administration and so many others to achieve the forward-thinking solutions our region needs.”

“I’m humbled by this recognition and want to emphasize the incredible work of New Mexico legislators, advocates, and stakeholders who have dedicated themselves to the preservation of our land, water, and air,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “New Mexico can and should be a regional and indeed national leader in clean energy production. As we adapt, we are demonstrating how an energy-producing state can move forward with industry buy-in. We are committed to a broad and inclusive energy industry that provides for New Mexicans of this generation and those to come, those who will inherit what we leave them.”

During the event, WRA also presented Andrew Pappas, state and local policy manager for the Outdoor Industry Association, and Jeremy Romero, regional connectivity coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation in New Mexico, with its 2019 Emerging Leader Award. The Emerging Leader Award recognizes young people under the age of 35 who are doing exemplary work to advance conservation in the Interior West.

“Every day, we learn a little bit more about the threats already impacting our climate, land, and air, and it has never been more important for all of us to work together to find solutions,” said Chelsea Congdon Brundige, Western Resource Advocates’ board chair and writer and producer with First Light Films. “We are thrilled to honor Governor Lujan Grisham for taking critical action in New Mexico to protect our climate, and we are excited to recognize the next generation of leaders – Jeremy and Andrew – who are using their passion for the outdoors and their talent as advocates to protect the land they love. We are grateful for their efforts to advance conservation in the West and look forward to working together to keep our region on the right path.”

This year’s Protect the West event also celebrated WRA’s 30th anniversary of protecting the West’s land, air, and water to ensure our vibrant communities exist in balance with nature. For photos from the event, click here.

More about WRA’s Leadership in Conservation Honoree

WRA’s Leadership in Conservation Award honors individuals who have taken bold action to protect the West’s land, air, and water. Previous awardees have included Amy Roberts, outgoing executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, and David Eves, Xcel Energy’s executive vice president and group president for utilities.

When Lujan Grisham ran for governor last year, she promised quick action to address climate change. The 32nd governor of New Mexico and the first Latina Democratic governor in the United States, she made the Energy Transition Act a prominent part of her agenda for the state in her first year, and she worked hard to secure its passage and enactment this spring.

The law makes New Mexico a national leader in the fight against climate change by increasing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to ensure that 50 percent of electricity will be generated from renewable energy by 2030 and 80 percent by 2040, and it requires the electricity grid to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045. The law also provides tens of millions of dollars of economic and workforce support for communities in the state’s Four Corners region that will be impacted by coal plant closures, as well as the development of renewable replacement power in San Juan County, New Mexico.


Jamie Trafficanda, 720-763-3737,