Conservation Voters New Mexico Winter 2019 Newsletter

What’s Next: 2020 Legislative Session

By Ben Shelton, CVNM Political and Legislative Director

The 2020 legislative session is right around the corner, and we’re busy preparing our legislative priorities. The 2020 session will be unique in that it will be the first short session of the Lujan Grisham administration, and the budget will essentially be the first budget of her administration. The budget is largely put together in the late summer and fall of the year before a legislative session. This means that when the Lujan Grisham administration took office in January 2019, the budget that they were given to pass in the legislative session had largely been assembled under the outgoing Martinez administration. The 2020 budget will be the first that is completely formed by the policy priorities of Governor Lujan Grisham and her staff.

Of particular importance in the 2020 budget will be the operating budgets for the two primary environmental regulatory agencies: the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) and the Environment Department (NMED). During the Martinez administration, these two agencies saw their budgets cut drastically and repeatedly over eight years.

For EMNRD, the focus must be on ensuring that the agency has the tools to effectively regulate the runaway production occurring in the Permian Basin. Governor Lujan Grisham recently announced an ambitious plan with Descartes Labs to overhaul the state’s methane regulation framework to be more data-informed, nimble, and efficient. This change will require investment and we’re looking to the Legislature to be supportive in 2020.

NMED’s challenges are centered around the need for more resources to protect the state’s groundwater resources. The Environment Department has already taken a leadership position by holding the Air Force accountable for PFAS contamination in groundwater around bases in the state, but the scope of the problem is still emerging and growing, and the Environment Department will need the resources to litigate this issue fully.

Additionally, the Environment Department has already begun a rulemaking process to deal with the issue of “produced water” or wastewater from oil and gas operations. This wastewater contains an unknown number and quantity of pollutants, as the industry has successfully argued in court that they shouldn’t have to disclose the chemicals they are injecting underground. NMED will have a tall order to ensure that New Mexicans aren’t exposed to the myriad pollutants and toxins in this wastewater.

Read the rest of our 2019 Winter Newsletter:

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