2018

CVNM Conservation Scorecard – Conservation Voters New Mexico

Stories + Themes of the 2017-2018 Legislature

Stories + Themes of the 2017-2018 Legislature

    • Legislation to address the Carlsbad Brine Well sinkhole came up again during both the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. The Carlsbad Brine Well is an abandoned salt cavern created by an oil and gas company on the verge of collapsing in the city of Carlsbad. The company that created the sinkhole went bankrupt before cleaning up their mess (but not before they were able to donate $20,000 to Gov. Susana Martinez’s campaign coffers from 2010-2014). The measures sought funding across a broad scope of sources, including funds earmarked for cleaning up leaking storage tanks, capping oil and gas wells and funding water projects. While the legislature rejected these measures to raid important environmental funds, it did ultimately include funding for the cleanup needs through the general fund. While CVNM acknowledges the need for cleanup for the Carlsbad Brine Well due to the danger it represents to the residents of Carlsbad, we will continue to push the Martinez administration to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for the danger it poses to our health and safety. The company that left this mess should never have been allowed to do so without funds set aside to address issues like the brine well.
    • Another year, another strong message from the legislature that tax credits for solar energy installations are important for New Mexicans. Senate Bill 79 would have reinstated the solar tax credit that expired in 2016, making solar more accessible for more New Mexican families. Despite passing with strong support in both the House and Senate in the 2018 legislative session, the tax credits were pocket vetoed by Governor Susana Martinez for the second time in four years, showing that she is out of step with the values of New Mexicans. Gov. Martinez talks a lot about jobs, but when presented with an opportunity to support one of the fastest growing, job-creating industries in the state,she chose to put the private profits of campaign contributors in the oil and gas industry who see solar as a threat to the status quo over clean air for our children to breathe.
    • After the 2017 session, Governor Martinez vetoed 10 bills. Her vetoes included bills CVNM supported – House Bill 144/Senate Bill 6 – that legalizes industrial hemp and establishes a research program to study it. In vetoing these bills, the Governor failed to include messages articulating her rationale for the vetoes, violating the New Mexico Constitution. In April, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a final judgment that the vetoes were invalid, and the bills became law. Industrial hemp is a versatile, fast-growing and drought-resistant crop that requires little pesticides or herbicides, and would serve to diversify New Mexico farmers’ cash crops.
    • In the 2018 session, CVNM introduced two legislative memorials – House Joint Memorial 6 – asking the Governor to allocate some of New Mexico’s Volkswagen cheating scandal settlement funds to begin electrifying school bus fleets in New Mexico and expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The state is receiving these funds as a part of the court settlement against Volkswagen after they were caught falsifying diesel emissions testing for their vehicles. Neither memorial passed the House or Senate, as oil and gas interests tend to see electric vehicles as an existential threat and worked hard to kill the non-binding memorials.