As a kid growing up in Hobbs, N.M., 27-year-old Juan Reynosa saw the firsthand effects of heavy industry on his local community. “Just growing up there as a child, I saw the mismanagement of these oil industries.” In Hobbs, the smell of gas always filled the air, as a constant reminder that the small town would always be dependent on oil for jobs and money.
Reynosa says many of his family members and friends ended up in oil industry jobs because that is what was available. There is also the Black Gold Casino, but even the name of the casino reminds visitors that Hobbs is, and will always be, an oil town.
Reynosa was determined to find another career path. After graduating from the University of New Mexico in 2006, he began working at New Mexico Youth Organized. As a full-time field organizer, he now works to raise awareness about the benefits of a green economy and pushes state legislators to fund green jobs and alternative energy. “I’m just trying to bring out new opportunities for people,” he says.
At this year’s Power Shift Conference, Reynosa testified before Congress that “America is ready for a new energy economy.” The goal, he says, is to help New Mexico and the rest of the United States make the switch from oil to wind, solar and other green energy alternatives.
“I’m aware of the fact that it’s going to take a lot of hard work,” Reynosa says. “In my perspective, we are near or have already approached our peak oil position. I’m just trying to lead by example and show them that there’s another way.”