Lujan says he’ll stand up to special interests

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

While campaigning through southeastern New Mexico this past week, Democratic Congressional District 3 candidate, Ben R. Lujan, sat down with the Portales News-Tribune to answer some questions regarding his positions on some major political issues.
Lujan is seeking to win the Democratic primary in a congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Udall. Currently, Lujan is a New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner and represents 11 counties in Congressional District 3. He began his term on the PRC in January of 2005. He has served as the commission’s chairman and was re-elected to three consecutive terms as chair.
Prior to his work with the PRC, Lujan served as director of Administrative Services and chief financial officer for the New Mexico Cultural Affairs Department. He also served as deputy state treasurer.

Q. What is your position regarding environmental issues and renewable resources?
A. I’ve done a lot of work with the PRC with renewable energy, encouraging development and implemental standards. Utility companies are now required to generate more from renewable resources which corresponds with the federal policy. We’ve also signed on to address climate-change development policies and rules on global warming. With Quest Communications, they committed to invest $700 million in exploring renewable resources and we held them accountable. Through the PRC, we also ordered them to return $15 million to consumers for overcharges. It is important to stand up to special interest groups.

Q. What will you do to address rising gasoline prices?
A. We are dependent on foreign oil, but with gasoline costs approaching $4 a gallon, we have to look at the profit all the oil companies are making. There is a problem with that. We need to look at where all of the profit is from and from a regulatory standpoint, look at the costs at the pump.
We also need to look at developing other sources of fuel, such as grasses and wood. We need to put as many things as we can on the table to address our dependence on foreign oil and this includes conservation. I’m not advocating speed limit reductions, but if we could get people to slow down on their way and encourage conservation that would help.

Q. What is your position on the war in Iraq