During the legislative session, Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) worked tirelessly with decision-makers and allied organizations to advocate for initiatives that help build resilient communities and protect our air, land and water. Over a dozen pro-conservation bills were sent to Governor Lujan Grisham, and we are pleased to announce that she has signed the vast majority of them!

Governor Lujan Grisham had until April 5 to sign or veto bills that passed both the House and the Senate and review individual items in the state budget.

Here’s the breakdown of CVNM’s priority bills that passed and were signed:

SIGNED – The Energy Transition Act (SB 489) was the most important piece of energy policy we worked on at the state level because it set the course for New Mexico’s clean energy future. The bill sets a nation-leading increase to our clean energy standard, known as the renewable portfolio standard (RPS), to 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040 and 100% carbon-free by 2045; it also directs about $40 million to help San Juan County communities and coal mine workers thrive and transition after the shutdown of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. As we push for an equitable transition to a clean energy economy and face the climate crisis head on, everyone needs to have a seat at the table throughout the entire process. Our entire organization acknowledges that there is no just transition without Indigenous consultation, and we supported amendments that formalized Indigenous consent, input and approval moving forward

SIGNED – Creation of a Division of Outdoor Recreation (SB 462) that will work with local communities to leverage our public lands to better tap into the billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry while protecting traditional New Mexican land users. CVNM supported the inclusion of the Outdoor Equity Fund in this proposal, which will ensure youth and working families have equal access to outdoor recreation opportunities. The bill passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support – including unanimous approval by the entire Senate. New Mexico is the first state to include an Equity Fund for outdoor recreation.

SIGNED – Reinstate Oil Conservation Division (OCD) authority to assess civil penalties on oil and gas operators that violate the Oil and Gas Act (HB 546). The OCD penalty authority bill did not pass but the language was inserted into HB 546 late in the session. CVNM remains neutral on HB 546 due to uncertainty over the environmental impacts of reusing oil and gas wastewater, known as produced water. This bill is an important step toward regulating wastewater and perhaps reducing the need for freshwater in the oil production process.

One enormous component of this bill cannot be overstated: The OCD desperately needed to have its administrative penalty authority back and it will have a huge impact. A lawsuit in 2009 removed the OCD’s ability to levy fines and assess penalties against bad actors. Just last year, there were thousands of violations of the Oil and Gas Act, but ZERO penalties were assessed. The clean energy future of New Mexico is bright, and our transition toward clean energy production will rely heavily on holding polluters accountable.

Other bills on CVNM’s legislative agenda that were sent to the Governor’s desk.

  • SIGNED HB 204: Healthy Soil Act – Creates a healthy soils program in the Department of Agriculture that includes trainings, workshops and  grant opportunities to support farmers and ranchers to improve the health, yield and profitability of their soils.
  • SIGNED HB 266: Forest and Watershed Restoration Act – Creates a board that will review and recommend forest and watershed restoration projects. The board will also foster partnerships with public and private organizations dedicated to forest and watershed conservation and restoration.
  • SIGNED HB 291: Efficient Use of Energy Act Changes – Extends and expands standards for large-scale utilities to invest in energy saving and efficiency programs.
  • SIGNED HB 440: Solar Energy Improvement Assessments – Allows residents in municipalities to take advantage of the county solar energy improvement special assessment, which provides for counties to pay the up-front cost of renewable energy systems for individuals.
  • SIGNED HB 521: PRC Application for Vehicle Electricity – Expands and enables New Mexico utilities to develop and install electric vehicle charging infrastructures.
  • SIGNED HB 581: Hemp Manufacturing Act – Facilitates hemp cultivation and manufacturing, providing a drought resistant cash crop for NM farmers.
  • SIGNED HB 651: Water Data Act – Increases the availability, transparency and accessibility of data surrounding water management.
  • Pocket Vetoed SB 5: Interstate Stream Commission Membership – Restructures the appointment process for the interstate stream commission to provide more insulation from the political agenda of a given governor and ensures that water decisions are based on the best available scientific data.
  • SIGNED SB 76: Prohibit Coyote Killing Contests – Bans coyote killing contests in New Mexico. Sets us on a path to more responsible wildlife management and conservation.  
  • SIGNED SB 228: Wildlife Corridors Act – Creates an action plan for state agencies to identify migration corridors in the state and reduce the incidence of wildlife/vehicle collisions.
  • SIGNED SB 234: Pollinator Protection License Plate – Funds the planting and care of pollinator-friendly plants using revenue from a new license plate.
  • SIGNED SB 383: Game Commission Fair Chase Rulemaking – Authorizes the Game Commission to make rules preventing hunters from using open records laws to get RFID/GPS tracking locations from tagged animals.
  • SIGNED SB 458: Notice of Meetings Involving State Trust Land – Establishes transparency requirements for certain land management decisions by the State Land Office.
  • SIGNED SB 553: Oil Conservation Division Fees – Allows OCD to establish administrative filing and application fees, helping stabilize its budget and day-to-day oversight operations

House Bill 2 is the budget bill and determines how our state government gets funded every year. Where we put our money says a great deal about where we are headed – that’s why CVNM worked diligently with organizations across the state to ensure the budget reflects New Mexico’s conservation values. We pushed to ensure state resources are used for projects that help build resilient communities and protect our air, land and water.

Below are some of the highlights and changes to House Bill 2 – The General Appropriation Act of 2019:

  • For the past eight years, regulatory departments that are supposed to keep us safe have gone underfunded. Departments that are supposed to make sure our natural resources aren’t being misused have gone understaffed. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham understands that critical departments need adequate resources to protect our precious landscapes and natural resources. The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department and the Oil Conservation Division will see an increase in funding to do their job properly.
  • As New Mexico continues to move toward a clean energy economy, it will be critical to ensure New Mexicans are ready to meet the needs of clean energy jobs. The Workforce Development Study, funded by House Bill 2, will create a roadmap to explore the tools needed –education, skill training, and infrastructure, where necessary– to prioritize access for all New Mexicans toward thriving clean energy jobs that will greatly benefit families across the state.
  • A line item that would have prohibited local governments from creating and enforcing ordinances affecting agricultural or vegetable seeds was removed from the budget by the governor. The language could have removed local control of agricultural seeds and interfered with culturally significant agricultural practices. Thanks to TEWA Women United for calling this out
  • Gila Diversion – $1.698M in capital outlay from the NM Unit Fund was vetoed. The veto is a huge step by the Governor in ending work on the Gila River diversion. It doesn’t completely stop the project, but the veto is progress towards achieving that goal.

While the legislative session was an overall success, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s actions give us great hope for New Mexico’s clean energy future. Governor Lujan Grisham signed the vast majority of pro-conservation legislation that was sent to her desk – she even worked and lobbied for some of those initiatives. We look forward to continue working with a governor who is willing to listen to New Mexicans like you and me, and organize with communities and pueblos to face the climate crisis head on.

Thank you for your support and involvement with us every day.

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