Lujan talks ethanol, immigration at Clovis stop

CMI staff

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M, told his Clovis constituents Thursday he does not support the use of ethanol derived from corn, and it should be stricken from the Renewable Energy Standard.

“The question has been, ‘should food be used to operate machinery?’” Lujan said. “The growing consensus is that it shouldn’t.”

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan D-N.M.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan

Lujan said during a stop at the Clovis-Carver Public Library that using corn for fuel takes away from the nation’s food supply, and in turn raises food, and cattle feed prices.

He also addressed another energy subject, telling a constituent that shedding environmental regulations for the oil and gas industry in New Mexico is unnecessary because “drilling in the U.S. is at the highest level it has ever been.”

Lujan also called for comprehensive immigration reform that would help undocumented immigrants become U.S. citizens.

“The current immigration system is broken,” said Lujan, noting there are undocumented immigrants in New Mexico who are paying taxes and not getting anything in return. He commended dairy farmers, who were in attendance, for their support of immigration reform.

Lujan met with a reporter from the CNJ’s sister paper, the Quay County Sun, earlier Thursday.

During the visit Lujan said New Mexico should view its recent last-place finish in child well-being measures “with alarm.”

“It can’t be ignored,” he said of the report from Kids Count that placed New Mexico last among the 50 states in child well-being.

In addition, he said, the state should be far more transparent in its handling of its current behavioral health situation.

While he favors a fight against “fraud and abuse,” he said, “ensuring patient care should be at the top of the list.”

After an audit commissioned by the state’s Human Services Department allegedly found evidence of fraud and abuse in Medicaid billing by 15 behavioral health providers in the state, HSD cut off funding for these providers and transferred their caseloads to five Arizona behavioral health organizations.

Lujan has joined the rest of New Mexico’s congressional delegation in calling for a public forum in New Mexico to give constituents an opportunity to talk about the impact of this issue on behavioral health care.

In support of the Farm Bill, which has stalled in the House after passing the Senate, Lujan said it will offer important support to farmers and ranchers in the western states hit by the current drought, of which New Mexico has been the hardest hit. In the House, he said, there has been no vote, since House Republicans are trying to pass a version that “zeroes out” the food-stamp provision.

Lujan also cited the current sequester, the federal funding cuts that were designed to be a deterrent against failure to reach a budget agreement in Congress, as standing in the way of support to drought-plagued farmers and ranchers.

He added, “The (Rep.) Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) budget would be worse than the sequester.”

In addition, he said, shifts in weather that may have led to the drought should be studied.

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