Mandatory Not Voluntary GMO Labeling: The Fight Continues


By Eleanor Bravo, Food and Water Watch

Rep. Mike Pompeo is expected to re-introduce HR 4432, or what we call the “Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act” any day now (edit: re-introduced since the time of writing; also see last year’s summary for the previous description). If the DARK Act passes, the fight for mandatory GMO labeling is over.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act sponsored by Representative Pompeo (R-KS) will make the labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods voluntary, which would then become the national standard. This bill would enshrine in federal law a failed policy that has kept consumers in the dark about what they are eating for two decades. The bill would also allow GMOs to be misleadingly labeled as “natural.” But most importantly, this bill would strip away consumers’ right to know by preempting state efforts to require the labeling of GMO foods.

Pompeo’s act rests on the false tenet that there is a broad scientific consensus that GMO foods are safe. This is not the case, since the approval process relies on studies conducted by the companies seeking to sell new GMO crops, rather than on any independent review. Simply making the current voluntary review system mandatory, as the DARK Act would, does nothing to address the inadequacy of the pre-market review system. For over a decade, the FDA has allowed companies to voluntarily label GMO foods and none have chosen to do so.

Americans want mandatory labeling of GMO foods. A 2013 New York Times poll found that 93 percent of respondents were in favor of a mandatory label for genetically engineered food. Since the Food and Drug Administration has failed to respond to the more than a million Americans who have asked the agency to label GMOs, the momentum on this issue has shifted to the states. Since 2013, over 25 states have introduced legislation to label GMO foods, and these bills have passed in Connecticut, Maine and Vermont.

Mandatory labeling of GMOs is not a novel idea. Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among at least 60 countries that require some labeling on GMO foods. Nor is mandatory labeling an expensive proposition for the United States. A study commissioned by Consumers Union reviewed research on mandatory GMO labeling and estimated that the median cost of labeling per person per year is $2.30, less than a penny a day.

We oppose the Pompeo bill and we urge you to support HR 913, introduced by Representative DeFazio (D-OR) or S 511, introduced by Senator Boxer (D-CA)], which would balance the needs of companies for a single labeling standard with the overwhelming demand by consumers for the mandatory labeling of GMOs in food.

TAKE ACTION! Tell Your Representative: Don’t Support Big Food’s Bill to Kill GMO Labeling Laws:

Soltero de Queso Vegan

Soltero de Queso 1

From Adrienne Weiss

Soltero de Queso, a specialty of the Andean city of Arequipa, is loosely translated as “Bachelor’s Salad,” but would indeed be a healthy, one-dish meal for Mother’s Day, Graduation or any warm, springtime picnic.

Serves: 8
Time: One hour (not including chilling queso)


For Quick and Easy Tofu Queso Fresco (or substitute any vegan feta or mozzarella-type cheese):

  • 6 ounces extra-firm silken tofu (half a 12.3 ounce tetrapack box such as Mori Nu)
  • 6 ounces firm regular tofu
  • 2 teaspoons agar powder (not flakes)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For Spicy Vinaigrette:

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce or hot sauce of choice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

For Salad:

  • 2 cups thin green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups cooked or canned green shelled fava beans, large lima beans or cooked/shelled edamames (my personal favorite; I use eda-zen, available at the Co-op.)
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh red tomato or halved red grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup pitted black Peruvian Alfonso olives or Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 recipe prepared Tofu Queso Fresco, cut into small squares and crumbled a bit
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 medium thin-skinned yellow potatoes, steamed, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • Large romaine lettuce leaves for garnish/lining serving platter or bowl



For Tofu Queso Fresco: Start a few hours before serving salad.

In food processor, combine tofu, agar powder, water, oil, sugar and salt and blend until very smooth. On stove-top, scoop mixture into 1-quart heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until bubbles and thickens. Whisk lemon juice into cooked mixture last. (Whisking it in sooner interferes with agar jelling process.) Pour mixture into flat storage container, about 6″ square, cover and refrigerate until firms up.

If there’s extra cheese, store cut up in squares, covered with neutral-tasting oil and tightly covered in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

For vinaigrette, blend, whisk or shake ingredients together well and set aside.

To assemble salad, cook green beans and corn in boiling water about 3 to 4 minutes, or until just tender. Shock in ice water for minute or two. Drain well.

In a large bowl, mix cooked green beans and corn with remaining ingredients, being gentle with tomatoes. Pour in 1/4 to 1/2 cup vinaigrette and toss to coat. Add cheese, additional vinaigrette to liking and toss gently.

Serve salad heaped on platter or in bowl lined with large romaine lettuce leaves.

Remaining dressing, if any, can be used on many different kinds of salads or vegetables.

If prefer not to make Tofu Queso Fresco, simply substitute any vegan feta or mozzarella-type cheese.

Our Co-op: Restoring the Earth


By Katherine Mullé

As a community-owned consumer cooperative, La Montañita believes in the shared benefits of healthy food, a strong local economy, and sound environmental practices with results that justify the resources used. In honor of Earth Day, here are a few of the ways La Montañita is working to give back to our environment and help restore the earth.

Donating our Dimes: Every month, La Montañita sponsors a local community-based organization through our Donate a Dime program. You reduce your carbon footprint when you bring your own bag, and to encourage you to do so, we’ll give you a dime that you can choose to either put towards your purchase or donate to a worthy organization. Thus far, 957,180 bag credits have been donated, which totals $95,718 in donated dimes given to a wide variety of awesome community organizations! So whether you have designated shopping bags or some spare plastic grocery bags lying around, please do bring them with you when you shop; for both our community and our environment, it truly adds up! Click here to learn about Water Groups, this month’s organization.

Recycling: Although it’s not a new concept, recycling remains as important as ever. All La Montañita locations have recycling bins at the front of each location so that shoppers can recycle the glass cardboard and plastic from their deli purchases. All additional cardboard, paper, glass, and plastic is picked up and recycled each week, by both local recycling companies and our amazing volunteers. Mark Lane, La Montañita’s Projects Manager, is currently working with local recycling companies to expand our current efforts to reduce waste as much as we can. To reduce daily food waste, La Montañita produce departments set out multiple compost boxes of produce that’s not in selling condition but may be perfect for another use. Keep an eye out for them the next time you shop!

Carrying Bulk: La Montañita’s Bulk Department offers a selection of over 400 items, including everything from your favorite varieties of rice and oatmeal to those specialized flours and nuts that can be difficult (and expensive!) to find elsewhere. No matter what products may catch your fancy, buying bulk not only allows you to stretch your dollar, but also to help the environment. Less packaging means less waste that ends up in the landfill, fewer dioxins released into the environment from manufacturing plastic and bleaching wood pulp, and fewer trees cut down for that unneeded cardboard box. You can also bring your own jars, bags, and bottles to fill up, reducing waste and saving money as you do. You can’t find a better deal than that!

Supporting local and organic: La Montañita is a strong supporter of organic farmers, with whom we share the firm belief that our food should be produced using sound environmental practices that work with the earth, not against it. To take this support one step further, we’re passionate about supporting local farmers with these same beliefs, which keeps New Mexican dollars in New Mexico and reduces our carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of products that come to us from miles away. The Co-op Distribution Center carries over 1,100 local products from over 400 producers by way of our local foodshed, which we define as within 300 miles from around Albuquerque. But our support of the local community doesn’t end with the products—we also support many of the producers of these products via the La Montañita (LaM) FUND, a member funded micro-lending program designed to grow the local food system and strengthen the local economy. In the four years of its existence, the LaM Fund has made over $147,000 in loans to nearly 20 local producers, supported by over 60 investors, for everything from buying seed to putting up a new hoop house.

Is your interest piqued? You can read and learn more about these wonderful programs at Happy Earth Day!

A Path Forward: Bosque Restoration


By Michael Jensen

On February 9th, work began on a wide crusher-fines trail in the Bosque from the Central Avenue bridge north to the I-40 bridge.

The trail is one of two components of what originally was called the Rio Grande Vision, part of Mayor Berry’s “ABQ The Plan”, and then became the Rio Grande Valley State Park Improvements Project. The other component is made up of a number of targeted Bosque restoration projects in the same area.

The onset of activity in the Bosque immediately polarized what appeared to be an evolving and improving relationship between City Open Space and Parks & Recreation and those in the community who had come together in 2013 to propose alternatives to some of the more extreme proposals in the original Rio Grande Vision. These included suggestions or “concepts” that indicated possible restaurants in or cantilevered out over the Bosque, large truck and trailer access to fully equipped boat launching facilities at numerous points along the river, and vague suggestions that the Bosque and river would be opened up to more general private sector development.

Many of the suggestions coming from community members were put into motion by the City. The City scaled back its proposed near-term activity to the east side of the river from Central to Montaño (although generally speaking of Central to I-40). There were four Bosque Educational Forums held in the Summer of 2014 that were well-attended and that received high marks from the public for how informative they were regarding the history, culture, and ecology of the Bosque. The City hired a consulting firm to carry out baseline environmental monitoring of the proposed project area and opened the report to public comment; the final report is expected soon.

The Open Space Division also led a couple of small walks through the project area with trail and restoration experts. It also held two public walks through the entire project area to discuss possible trail alignments, the pros and cons of wide multi-user trails, the nature of proposed restoration work, and the constant need to balance the complicated relationship between conservation and public access. The goal of the project – trail alignment and restoration work – was to use the two components in concert with each other. Some trail consolidation and a likely multi-user trail would be done with projected restoration work in mind so the two would promote both more focused access and better ecosystem function.

Unfinished Process

When the work began, the public process was not quite complete. The baseline monitoring report’s final version was still being worked on to incorporate responses to public comments and perhaps including some adjusted conclusions as well.

The first public awareness that work would start soon came in a front-page editorial in the Albuquerque Journal on the Friday before work began. This editorial, as well as one the following Monday on the inside editorial page, sought to both telescope the impending work and criticize before-hand the expected protests from those in the community who would object to work commencing before the public process was complete.

The sad irony is that those members of the community who had been most focused on creating and carrying out the public process had met on the evening before (February 8th) to look at maps of the two alternatives presented to the Mayor’s Office earlier in February, and first revealed in the Journal, and to come up with a response.

The response was to propose a hybrid plan to the Mayor on Tuesday. The hybrid would use “Option 1” for the trail in the northern project area and “Option 2” in the southern section. This hybrid would keep the trail away from the sensitive riverbank area for more of its alignment and provide more separation between the wide multi-user trail – mostly bicyclists, but also horses – and the narrower main “pedestrian” trail that already exists.

So, instead of being able to announce a compromise solution that would meet the goals of both sides – more access, more restoration and conservation, and a more integrated implementation of these two needs – the whole project descended into renewed mistrust and politicization. A year’s worth of slowly building consensus evaporated.

Beyond the short-circuiting of the public process, the Mayor’s office also bypassed long-established and, in some cases, legally required processes with a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, including its own Open Space Advisory Board review. Most of the agencies involved would have asked for nothing more than consultation beforehand in order to know what was being done. However, any entity doing work in the Bosque has an obligation to inform the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the US Bureau of Reclamation and see if they need a permit (generally issued by the Conservancy District).

In addition, given the scope of the work, the City’s contractor was under an obligation to submit an online “Notice of Intent” with the Environmental Protection Agency (Dallas office) that they would be disturbing more than an acre of land.   This is something that any contractor would have to do at a subdivision, for example.

A Path Forward

As a result of community and agency protests over the City’s actions, a path forward is taking shape.

Community members have been in discussions with the Mayor’s office in order to develop a clear public process that the City will commit to following for any additional work on the current trail and restoration project between Central and I-40, as well as any future work on the wider Vision.

There is also work being done by some community members and agency representatives to develop a permanent public process for sharing information about all work being planned for the Bosque and river. The process would bring together all of the local, state, and federal agencies that do work in the Bosque or on the river, or that have any regulatory or consultative role in such work, on a regular basis to discuss their planned work and the timeline for relevant public and agency process that the work will go through prior to commencement.

When the modern environmental movement started back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, marked by the passage of landmark Clean Air and Clean Water legislation and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the goals of environmentalism were mostly met through litigation, legislation, and protest. Those are all still necessary tools in dealing with threats to the environment and public health.

But it has also become clear over the years that another tool is equally important: open, transparent processes that engage the community in decision-making.

That process was started over plans for the Bosque – because the community protested enough to get it – but then cut short. We now have a chance to not just restart that process but build a better and more transparent one that engages the whole community.

Creamy Avocado-Tomato Salsa

Avocado Tomato Salsa

From Adrienne Weiss

This juicy salsa hails from Venezuela, where it’s known as “Guasacaca” and is used as a condiment. It’s not as much a guacamole as it is a cool, tangy sauce with a hint of extra richness from the olive oil. It’s great with empanadas, but it’s also stellar heaped alongside beans and rice or chips. In Venezuela, it’s typically served with grilled foods. Try it with grilled tofu or tempeh.

Time: 15 Minutes
Serves: 4

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 avocados, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 to 2 large ripe tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 cup white onion, finely minced
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  •  A few dashes of bottled red hot sauce for a little heat (optional)



Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Using a potato masher or fork, gently mash ingredients just enough to create a creamy texture, but still leaving some small chunks of avocado. Taste and adjust flavor with salt, lime juice, cilantro and/or hot sauce, if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Safe Use of Technology: Critical for Health and EASY!


By John McPhee

There are now an estimated 6,000 studies demonstrating the damaging health effects from cell towers, antennas, and Wi-Fi technology. In spite of this, there has been non-stop installation of wireless technology in homes, schools, public agencies and private businesses. World renowned physician Andrew Weil, MD says “Electromagnetic pollution may be the most significant form of pollution human activity has produced in this century, all the more dangerous because it is invisible and insensible.” Over the past decade, there has been a consistent lack of media attention paid to scientists and doctors worldwide, calling for more stringent regulations regarding the random deployment of cell towers and antennas throughout our communities.

Sounding the Alarm

The World Health Organization, in the May 2010 “Interphone Study,” found a 40% increase in the incidence of glioma tumors among those who only used a cell phone an average of 30 minutes per day for a decade. Note that this study was completed before the introduction of the more powerful 4G technology and the introduction of Smart phones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote an official letter to the Federal Communications Commission specifically about the lack of cell phone safety in August 2013, stating that Current FCC standards do not account for the unique vulnerability and use patterns specific to pregnant women and children.”

In 2015, the French Parliament passed ground-breaking legislation that imposes limits on the marketing of cell phones, the use of wireless technology in schools (including a prohibition in preschools), mandated access to technical and location information for transmitters, and mandated measurement of exposure (that would also require reduction of high levels).

Members of the Canadian Parliament are now introducing legislation to require that the risks of radiation exposure from cell phones and routers be clearly displayed on packaging and the devices themselves.

Basic Precautions

Even the most basic precautions for using wireless technology are not widely publicized. Here are some easy ways to decrease your daily exposure of damaging electromagnetic radiation:

  • Turn off Wi-Fi modems when not in use, and always before bed. Wireless systems penetrate walls for an average of 600 feet in all directions, impacting not only you, but your neighbors, as well.
  • Do not place laptops directly on the pelvic area of the body.
  • Do not carry a cell phone anywhere directly on your body in the “on” position.
  • Do not make calls with a cell phone directly against the ear, but use the speaker mode instead (and if you must make a hand-held call, hold the phone at least 2 inches from your head).
  • Use wired technology utilizing fiber optic cables and Ethernet connections instead of Wi-Fi to safely ground emissions from electromagnetic fields.

To learn more about the Safe Use of Wireless Technology, including monthly presentations and products to protect yourself, contact Jennifer at (505) 780-8283.

Websites to Visit:

Alan Imai on Natural Agriculture: Simple, Sustainable, and Cooperative with Nature


By Father Seraphim

A step closer to nature than the organic approach, Nature Agriculture is a simple and unique approach to farming and gardening that recommends the cultivation of crops matched to the local environment: no fertilizers, no manure compost, no aggressive pest control, and no crop rotation. The results are safe and nutritious food, abundant yields, and no negative environmental impact. Created by the Japanese spiritual and social visionary Mokichi Okada in Japan in the 1940’s, it has been successfully applied in every setting from the smallest backyard gardens up to large commercial farms, mostly in Japan, the USA, and Europe.

Alan Imai has spent the last eleven years widening the scope of Natural Agriculture, helping indigenous people in Zambia, Nepal, Brazil and other countries to break free of the economic burden of GMO seeds and fertilizers and to develop sustainable local farming based on local crops. Director of the Shumei International Natural Agriculture program and Executive Director of the Shumei International Institute in Crestone, Colorado, Alan will speak on Natural Agriculture and tell amazing stories of its success on Monday, April 13th, at 7:00 pm at the First Unitarian Church at 3701 Carlisle Boulevard N.E. in Albuquerque. The presentation is free of charge.

Natural Agriculture’s core principle is that of an overriding respect for nature – honoring the cycle of life and the integrity of the earth’s ecosystems. It encourages continuous cropping rather than crop rotation, since experience has shown that each generation of seeds improves and adapts to the particular soil and environment, and the soil also adapts to the particular crops. Farmers are encouraged to experiment to see which crops work well for the soil, rather than trying to force the land to produce an unsuitable crop for their own economic designs.

Insects are not considered “pests” in the natural world, nor are weeds. The excessive appearance of insects that damage plans indicates an imbalance in nature. Rather than trying to control insects with harmful pesticides or even natural ingredients, farmers following the Natural Agriculture method pay close attention to the cycles of nature, harvesting crops prone to infestation slightly earlier or growing them in greater quantities to allow for losses.

International Empowerment

The wide-ranging advantages of Natural Agriculture have been shown time and time again around the world. It has provided an environmentally sustainable approach to food production, prevents pollution of the soil and ground water, promotes biodiversity and healthy soil, and provides a viable alternative to a centralized “mega-farming” industry by supporting and empowering small local farm holders.

Alan Imai knows better than anyone that all this is not just theory. At the invitation of the Mbabala Women Farmers Cooperative Union, in 2004 Alan travelled to Zambia, where he found small-scale farmers struggling with the high cost of fertilizers, pesticides, and hybrid seeds. It was a cycle of dependency that seemed unbreakable; the hybrid seeds required fertilizers and pesticides for growth, and the results were undependable. The periodic droughts meant famine and dependency on international aid to stave off famine.

Working with women farmers, Alan developed a program of Natural Agriculture workshops which included seed-saving methods. He trained local community members as demonstration farmers so that other women would have access to local help centers where they would be able to learn.

The success of Natural Agriculture in Zambia has inspired more and more farmers to turn to this method. And this approach has positively transformed the local culture, encouraging pride as Africans and confidence in their own abilities, the empowerment of women (“the key to rural development,” says Alan), and promoting education and health programs.

In 2008 Alan spoke at the United Nations about his Zambia experiences and how Natural Agriculture, as an integrated approach, can address the current food crisis and help eradicate hunger and poverty in Africa and elsewhere.

“Growing cash crops and biofuels is not the answer to the hunger and poverty eradication in Africa. We must support sustainable agricultural methods without the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that are further damaging an environment already ravaged by drought and other shortsighted agricultural methods.”

His presentation earned him a standing ovation.

For more information about Alan Imai and Natural Agriculture, please visit or contact: Father Seraphim, 281-4888,

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Blackened Tofu

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

From Adrienne Weiss

Silky rice noodles, cool cucumbers, seasonal asparagus and refreshing mint are spiced up with chili garlic sauce for a great simple springtime meal or special occasion gathering. Featuring crispy blackened tofu and sprinkled with a gremolata of peanut, mint and lime for added flavor and texture, this dish will delight the tastebuds.

Serves: 6
Time: 50 minutes (without recommended option of freezing tofu)


For Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 4 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 4 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (Kinna’s Vegan Chile Paste, available at the Co-op,) works
  • beautifully.)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (GF tamari for gluten free)
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 or so limes)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt

For Salad:

  • 2 12- or 14-ounce packages extra firm tofu
  • 3 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 8-ounce package thin rice noodles
  • 1 medium-size cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced in half moons
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 baby bock choy, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears with bottoms trimmed, quickly blanched in boiling water and shocked in ice water, then drained and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves

For Peanut-Mint Gremolata:

  • 1/2 cup peanuts, very well chopped
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • Zest of 2 small or 1 large lime



To make dressing, mix together all ingredients and whisk or stir vigorously. Set aside.

Recommended: Drain tofu, wrap in paper towel and then in terry kitchen towel. Place under heavy object such as cast iron skillet and drain for at least 15 minutes. Proceed with recipe or, for a chewy tofu that will better absorb marinade, drain and place in air-tight freezer bag and freeze overnight. Completely defrost and drain any excess water. Frozen tofu will last up to 5 months.

Slice tofu through middle of each block for 4 blocks total. Holding 2 together, one atop other, slice width-wise into 3 equal rectangles (6). Repeat with other block. Cut diagonally into triangles, yielding 24 pieces in all. Place in single layer on platter or baking dish and spoon 7 tablespoons dressing plus 3 teaspoons tamari over slices to coat. Gently flip occasionally while preparing salad.

Cook rice according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water for about a minute until fully cooled. Set aside to drain further.

Mix all vegetables and mint leaves with noodles. Mixing by hand is actually the best way to incorporate all ingredients. Refrigerate.

Combine gremolata ingredients in small bowl.

Pre-heat cast iron skillet and coat with thin layer of oil. Place marinated tofu triangles in pan over medium-high heat. Cook until both sides are crisp and nicely blackened. Add any excess marinade to noodles.

To serve, scoop noodle mixture into 6 individual bowls. Wedge 3 to 4 tofu pieces on side of each bowl. Sprinkle with gremolata and serve with lime wedges and extra chili garlic sauce.

This recipe can easily be multiplied for a larger gathering.

If there’s any remaining tofu, use for delicious sandwiches or stir-fry dishes.

Timing Tips:

Put water on to boil

Make dressing and marinate tofu

Cook noodles

Prep veggies

Drain noodles

Assemble salad

Make gremolata

Cook tofu

Assemble servings

How Would Gandhi Approach the Climate Crisis?


By Maria Rotunda, Santa Fe Citizens’ Climate Lobby

There is a story that Mark Reynolds, Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s Executive Director, tells to all new Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) groups that might offer some insight. This story encompasses the essence of CCL’s philosophy and core values.

The story takes place in the early 1900s when Gandhi was living in South Africa and battling apartheid. He visited General Smuts, the leader of the Transvaal Government and Gandhi’s adversary. After a long discussion, Smuts said to Gandhi, “Is there anything more you want to say?” To this Gandhi replied, “Yes – I am going to win.” “How will you do that?” Smuts inquired. “With your help,” Gandhi told him. And years later, that is exactly what happened.

At its core, CCL is all about coalition building and reaching across the aisle, asking individuals to embrace their humanity, evolve and work together. Creating the political will for a livable world isn’t something we can do alone.

CCL’s proposal is based on what climate science and economics tell us is the simple, most efficient first step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions: place a gradually, predictably increasing fee on carbon.

A steadily-rising fee – starting at $15 per ton of carbon-dioxide – is placed on fossil fuels at the point of import or production, increasing by $10 per ton of CO2 each year. Revenue from the fee is divided up equally and returned to all households. Border adjustment tariffs are placed on imports from nations that do not have an equivalent carbon-pricing mechanism in order to maintain a level playing field for American businesses.

Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), a firm that corporations, governments and academic institutions turn to for economic forecasting, conducted a study on the Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.

Here’s what REMI found: After 10 years, CO2 emissions would be cut 33 percent and 2.1 million jobs would be added to the economy, primarily because of the economic stimulus of recycling tremendous amounts of revenue into the pockets of people who are likely to spend the money.

That’s right. We can cut carbon emissions while ADDING millions of jobs to our economy.

Politicians don’t create political will – they respond to it. We believe citizens who are well-trained, organized by Congressional district, and with a good system of support can more than influence the political process.

With respect, we build long-term relationships with every member of the House and Senate, regardless of political party, to lobby in support of a Carbon Fee and Dividend. We know that we will not see this policy implemented without the support of a majority. We write letters to the editor and op-eds, and meet with editorial boards to gain their editorial endorsement.

If you are looking to do actual work with an organization that is punching far above its weight, there are a number of ways to become involved. We meet on the first Saturday of every month in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe. Find contact info for your local group here: If you live outside of these areas, you can join our weekly introductory call, which happens every Wednesday. Calls begin at 6pm Mountain time and last about 1 hour (see information on CCL’s website).

Bottom line: we can adopt policies that will mitigate the climate crisis if we are willing to work, willing to work together, and willing to stay focused on a good goal. We have a lot of work to do. If you’d rather work than just click; if you’d rather work than just opine on Facebook; if you’d rather work than do anything else, we would love your help. We can get this done, with your help.

Maria Rotunda and John McAndrew are co-leaders of the Santa Fe CCL Chapter. For more information, contact them at

Time of Important Choices: Taking Action for Life


By JR Riegel

We have the privilege of living in an extremely important time for the world. What we do now will determine our lasting impact as a species, and unlike most other significant moments in the planet’s history, we can decide how things go from here. It’s an exciting, challenging time, but the pressure is on! Like any species, humans have always influenced the ecosystems they live in. However, as we have spread across the planet, industrialized, and became big-time consumers, this influence has grown wildly, gone unchecked and has caused all sorts of imbalances.

There have been five mass extinctions throughout Earth’s history. In each of these events, over half of all species on the planet died out. Our impact on the planet is so great that our Holocene era is predicted by some to join this list as the sixth mass extinction. Harvard professor E. O. Wilson forecasted in his 2002 book The Future of Life that at the current rate of human-caused disruption of the biosphere, half of Earth’s higher life forms will be extinct by 2100.

Since 2002, per-capita carbon emissions in the U.S. have dropped. While this is certainly a good sign that our efforts are starting to work, the increase in per-capita carbon emissions in China over the same time period more than offset our decrease. Our impact on the climate is only one of the factors in this extinction event; and so there are multiple ways we can try and fight the forecasted 50% loss in species.

Mindful Consumption: Deforestation and development have damaged habitats across the globe, with the damage to the Amazon rain forest being the most iconic. Much of the rain forest’s deforestation is the result of increased demand to lower prices at all costs. Current laws, regulations, and consumer habits allow businesses to hide the true cost of goods by pushing expenses off onto the environment and powerless communities. One of the best things we can do to minimize our impact on ecosystems is to educate ourselves on the products that we buy and the practices that went into making those products. Mindful consumption can even help restore fragile ecosystems in certain cases.

Healing Habitats: In the case of infrastructural development like roads, housing, and urban environments, involvement in local government can go a long way. New projects cut ecosystems into smaller and smaller pieces, but citizen action and government regulation can help maintain habitat without compromising our ability to live and work. Wildlife corridors can heal broken habitats, and careful planning of public works can prevent environmental degradation that an area might otherwise experience. Effective zoning laws can allow housing developments that maintain habitat instead of eliminating it. In these cases, the value of civic engagement cannot be understated.

Learn From Mistakes: Sometimes damage to a species has already been done. This is sad, but we can still respect that species by learning from our errors and not repeating the mistake again. We had no idea that importing chestnut wood from China would bring about the chestnut blight. Scientists now fight the blight in the last remaining stand of American chestnut with all sorts of innovative methodologies, but they can’t undo the loss of our previously vast chestnut forests. Fortunately, we’ve learned from the many cases of invasive species over the years. We’re much more careful now, but it’s still important to encourage native species when possible in order to preserve local ecosystems. One great place you can do this is in your own garden, and in our climate growing native species can significantly reduce your water usage as well!

Tip of the Melt: This is just the tip of the melting iceberg! Modern extinctions are influenced by so many factors of human activity. Keep an eye on future issues of the Co-op Connection in the coming months for more ideas and solutions that tackle the issues we face. We’ve made more than our fair share of messes, but one of the greatest things about being human is our ability to reflect on ourselves and strive to do better than we did the day before.