Some of us are old enough to remember when Presidential candidates, Republicans and Democrats alike, bemoaned the state of America's dependence on foreign oil. In fact, I'm sure there is no shortage of today's environmentalists who stood in protest lines screaming "No blood for oil" in the past.
The good news is the United States achieved the energy independence that was the bipartisan goal of so many leaders for decades. Unfortunately, today's eco-left movement demands we surrender our hard-fought independence to another part of the world that doesn't share our values: China.
Less than a year ago, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller stood proudly in front of newly installed solar panels at the city's BioPark. He not only boasted how these panels would pay for 30 percent of the entire zoo, but he also pointed out they were simply a part of $50 million taxpayer investment in panel projects across the city. He doesn't mention which companies are getting paid.
Take a look at the panels installed at the BioPark and you'll notice they are from Jinko Solar. Apparently, they are the largest solar manufacturer in the world and headquartered in Shanghai, China. Those new panels at Ladera Golf Course? They were produced by Longi Solar. The company is headquartered in Xi'an, Shaanxi, China with manufacturing facilities in China, Malaysia, and India. There's no telling how many millions in New Mexico taxpayer dollars have flowed to Chinese companies in the race to buy more solar.
The problem is "green" products such as solar panels and wind turbines rely on Rare Earth Elements and other critical minerals for their construction. China is the world leader in the mining and production of these materials. Given such a reality, supporters of the renewable movement are forced into an uncomfortable relationship with a nation that routinely violates basic human rights. If any New Mexicans are upset with the recent actions of China, they should also be upset when their tax dollars are used to subsidize or purchase their products.
Recently, Power The Future authored a study examining the links between Rare Earth materials in China's renewable products. We found China's increasing dominance over these critical materials is no accident and the radical environmental movement doesn't seem to mind. Even putting aside the well-known human rights abuses, it's clear China is mining and manufacturing these products in a way that is harmful to the planet. Yet, the eco-left community is silent.
For years, New Mexico's environmental community has charged forward unchecked in its goal to grow renewables. They've ignored warnings about massive job losses and enormous revenue deficits in our state. Now, it appears they want to ignore our energy independence in favor of a nation that shows disdain for basic human rights and the environment.
The next time New Mexico's environmentalists celebrate their latest renewable project funded by taxpayers we should all be asking: what is the real cost?
Larry Behrens is the Western States Director for Power The Future, an organization fighting for America's Energy Workers. He is a former journalist and previously served as Communications Director for New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. You can find him on Twitter at @larrybehrens and @PTFNewMexico or email at email@example.com.