County Sustainability Manager Angelica Gurule. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Los Alamos County has made a lot of commitments to environmental sustainability – whether it is reaching carbon neutrality by 2040, implementing a municipal food compost program or installing electric vehicle charging stations. As the County’s new Sustainability Manager, Angelica Gurule is helping to make good on these commitments.
Gurule was promoted to the position last year. Previously, she served as Environmental Services Division Manager for almost nine years.
Los Alamos County Deputy Manager Linda Matteson said Gurule is the right person for the job.
“The County is fortunate to have Angelica as our Sustainability Manager,” Matteson said. “Her experience with the LARES (Los Alamos Resiliency Energy and Sustainability Task Force) task force and community engagement efforts will benefit the County and the new program.”
Gurule explained the Sustainability Manager job was developed out of a recommendation from the LARES Task Force. The job’s primary purpose, she said, is to help the County work on climate action strategies and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
As a result, one of her first tasks is to develop a greenhouse gas baseline emission analysis and develop a climate action plan. Gurule said evaluating proposals from consultants to assist in the climate action plan have been completed. A contract with the selected contractor will be drafted, and it is expected that in the next 60 days, the studies will begin.
Gurule said she is excited to have this position.
“My work in Environmental Services has always kind of been along the same vein of environmental stewardship,” she said. “And I think this position allows me to focus on all the areas of environmental sustainability instead of just waste, but I think I’ve always been interested in how we can protect our environment and sustain it for future generations. Whether that is practices at home or at work, I want to implement policies that will benefit our community and our earth. I think we do a lot of that in Environmental Services and I look forward to doing that on a larger scale.”
She added receiving the position came at just the right time because the federal government has made a significant investment – over $300 billion – in climate solutions and environmental justice.
“I’m really excited about all the money the current (federal) administration is providing to combat climate change from the Inflation Reduction Act,” Gurule said. “There’s a lot of money that is becoming available to states and my goal is to obtain funding (and make it) available to our local residents to make their homes more energy efficient and cost efficient. So, I am eager to pursue those opportunities that would have a ripple effect for the environment and the economy …”
Another advantage is the support the community has shown for environmental sustainability, Gurule said.
“I think there’s a lot of support,” she said. “I think what I’ve learned from the community that as long as it is convenient … and obviously not too impactful on our wallets. At the end of the day they want to do what’s best for the environment. Our community really supports a lot of these (programs) and they want to do what’s best for the community and the environment.”
With the work just starting, there are a lot of unknowns but one that is certain is that the community’s input is encouraged, Gurule said. She added she will be working closely with the community. She credited the Zero Waste Team, which is comprised of a group of citizen volunteers, with helping with outreach.
“I want the community to feel like this is a team effort,” she said. “As we address these topics, we hope that the community will provide input so we can shape this and serve the community in years to come. My job is to help the community and make it more sustainable.”
She also is not doing this work alone. Gurule pointed out the Environmental Services Division is implementing the food composting project, the County’s fleet division is procuring electric vehicles, the Department of Public Utilities is installing level three car charging structures. Plus, the County is continuing to work on the Carbon Free Power Project. Having this County-wide collaboration is another plus, Gurule said.
“We have the CMO (County Manager’s Office) team that is supporting this role,” she said. “We are working across the organization …. This role is independent but it will take strong partnership across the County.”
Environmental stewardship is something Gurule has done since the start of her professional career.
Before going to the County, Gurule said she worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and before going to the Laboratory, she worked for Game and Fish. She also got her degree in environmental stewardship.
Gurule said she was interested in working for the County because “I think it is a great place to work, and a great community. The whole organization is very well managed, and I like the team. We have the ability to make change and have positive impacts in the community.”