Biden Visit To New Mexico Amid Record Wildfires

President Biden To Visit New Mexico As The State Battles Its Largest Wildfire In History

For the past two months, New Mexico has been in the midst of the largest wildfire in state history. The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peaks Fire has burned more than 315,00 acres of land– equivalent to the size of Los Angeles– and damaged or destroyed at least 350 homes. On Saturday, June 11, President Biden will travel to New Mexico to receive a briefing from state and federal officials on the status of the fire, and visit the New Mexico State Emergency Operation Center. The fire is about 62% contained, and New Mexico faces at least another month of peak fire risk. Officials worry that the fire may lead to flash floods, landslides, and destructive ash from the burn scar. 

Climate change is contributing to this staggering increase in wildfire activity in recent years, with New Mexico fires starting earlier in the season and growing stronger than ever before. And by 2050, New Mexico is projected to have nearly 40 days with high wildfire potential, compared to about 15 in 2000. As climate change worsens, people in New Mexico are becoming increasingly vulnerable to wildfires impacting their homes, economy, safety and health. More than 1.4 million people, or 70% of New Mexico’s population, live in areas at elevated risk of wildfires.

So far in 2022, there have been 351 wildfires that burned more than 790,000 acres across New Mexico. That’s about six times as many acres as the state experienced in the entirety of 2021. Earlier this spring, another large wildfire near the village of Ruidoso, which has since been contained, damaged more than 200 structures and resulted in two fatalities. In the past decade, New Mexico has witnessed four extreme wildfires that caused a total of $33 billion in damages and resulted in 67 deaths in the region. 

Fortunately, New Mexico is an ideal place for investing in clean energy to address climate change and fulfill the state’s commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045. In fact, New Mexico has the potential to power the state’s electricity needs 50 times over with wind energy and 600 times over with solar energy alone.. As of 2020, there were over 11,000 clean energy jobs in the state, accounting for 1.44% of the state’s total workforce. Through targeted federal clean energy investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and grid modernization, New Mexico could generate nearly 8,000 new jobs each year over a five year period.