CVNM Conservation Scorecard – Conservation Voters New Mexico

Air Quality
Air Quality Votes ↓

Air Quality

Air quality is a significant and growing concern in New Mexico. Experts link exposure to air pollutants to many adverse health effects, including exacerbation of asthma symptoms, diminished lung function, birth deformities, cardiovascular disease and childhood cancer.

As many New Mexico families understand all too well, one of the most common health conditions caused or exacerbated by air pollution is asthma. Between 2000 and 2007, the number of adult New Mexicans suffering from asthma jumped 40%.

The problem is even worse in the regions of the state where oil and gas production and coal-fired power plants are concentrated. Lea County, in southeastern New Mexico, has the highest asthma rates in the state — five times higher than the state average; asthma rates among children in the oil, gas and power plant hubs of New Mexico are one-third higher than in Bernalillo County, where vehicle emissions are concentrated.

Children are affected by air pollution more than adults because their bodies are still developing and they breathe faster. Childhood asthma has become an epidemic in our state. Of asthma-sufferers in the oil patch of southeastern New Mexico, approximately three out of five children are hospitalized annually for their condition. This compares to less than one out of five in the rest of the state.

Poor air quality harms more than our health, it also hurts our finances. The health care costs of air pollution vary depending on the geographic area and study methodology (no known New Mexico-specific studies are available), but all of the numbers are staggering. Across the U.S., more people die from air pollution-related illnesses each year than traffic accidents, and the mortality rate due to air pollution equals that of breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Improving the quality of our air can save money and create jobs. Charles J. Cicchetti, Ph.D., the former deputy director of the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at Harvard University, stated that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rule to reduce toxic emissions from the utility sector will result in:

  • Net annual benefits of between $52.5 and $139.5 billion (yes, billion!)
  • Net job increases of 115,520
  • Health care savings of $4.513 billion

The vast majority of other scientific studies yield remarkably similar conclusions: regulating air quality has been, and continues to be, great for our economy.

Example of action to improve air quality:

In 2008, New Energy Economy and more than a dozen other organizations filed a petition with New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) to pass a science-based cap on carbon pollution. In 2011, after two years of public hearings, technical testimony and legal proceedings, the EIB passed a rule setting a reasonable cap and reduction plan for greenhouse gas emissions. An economic analysis of the rule demonstrated that the status quo would result in a loss of 5,500 jobs-years by 2020; conversely, compliance with the rule would create 17,500 jobs-years! Unfortunately, industry groups challenged the rule and the EIB itself later struck it down.

Example of action that fails to improve air quality:

In the small community of Mesquite, south of Las Cruces, residents complain of burning eyes, asthma, chronic respiratory infections, nosebleeds and severe chronic bronchitis. A fertilizer-blending facility sits in the heart of Mesquite, right across from the community’s elementary school. During the previous administration, the company operated without an air quality permit for years; despite administering approximately half a million dollars in fines for air quality violations, the state doesn’t ultimately have the authority to shut down the facility. For consecutive years, the state legislature has failed to pass a bill that would authorize the state to deny or revoke permits for such so-called “bad actors,” polluters with a clear and consistent record of violating environmental laws.


Related Votes

Priority # Name Sponsor(s) Issue(s) CVNM Postion Year Legislative Link Outcome CVNM Sort CVNM Sort #
HB 245 Biodiesel Standards Suspension Support 2017 HB 245 on nmlegis.gov HB 245 died in the House Labor and Economic Development Committee. 0 245
PR SB 442 Building Energy Disclosure Act Carlos Cisneros , Support 2011 SB 442 on nmlegis.gov SB 442 died in Senate Conservation Committee. 50 442
PR SB 30 Carbon Pollution Amendment , Oppose 2011 SB 30 on nmlegis.gov Amendment passed; as a result, Sen. Keller (the sponsor of the principal bill) withdrew his measure. 50 30
SB 237 Colleges in Energy Efficiency & Bonding Act , Support 2011 SB 237 on nmlegis.gov SB 237 passed the Senate (30-3) and the House (66-0), but was pocket-vetoed by Gov. Martinez. 50 237
PR HB 458 Consolidated Environmental Review Act , , , , , Support 2013 HB 458 on nmlegis.gov HB 458 died in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 0 458
PR HB 178 Denial of Air Quality Control Permits , Support 2011 HB 178 on nmlegis.gov HB 178 died in House Energy & Natural Resources Committee. 0 178
SJR 6 Eliminate Public Regulation Commission, CA , , , Oppose 2011 SJR 6 on nmlegis.gov SJR 6 died in Senate Rules Committee. 90 6
PR SB 47 Energy Redevelopment Bonds , Oppose 2018 SB 47 on nmlegis.gov SB 47 died in the Senate Conservation Committee. 50 47
PR HB 429 Environmental Private Right of Action , , , Support 2013 HB 429 on nmlegis.gov HB 429 died on the House floor (30-36). 0 429
SB 394 Industrial Revenue Bond Changes , , Oppose 2017 SB 394 on nmlegis.gov SB 394 died in the Senate Finance Committee. 50 394
PR HJR 3 Legislative Nullification of Rules Andy Nuñez , , , , Oppose 2011 HJR 3 on nmlegis.gov HJR 3 died in House Judiciary Committee. 40 3
PR HB 652/SB 194 No Agriculture as a Nuisance , , Oppose 2013 HB 652/SB 194 on nmlegis.gov HB 652 died in the House Judiciary Committee. SB 194 died on the Senate floor calendar. 0 652
PR HB 406 Nuclear Energy as Renewable Energy , , Oppose 2017 HB 406 on nmlegis.gov HB 406 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. 0 406
PR SB 307 Oil & Gas Act Powers & Penalties , , , Support 2017 SB 307 on nmlegis.gov SB 307 died in the Senate Finance Committee. 50 307
HB 186 Pesticide Application Notices Support 2015 HB 186 on nmlegis.gov HB 186 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee. 0 186
PR HB 275 Public-Private Partnerships Act , , , Oppose 2017 HB 275 on nmlegis.gov HB 275 died in the House Labor and Economic Development Committee. 0 275
PR HB 579 Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emission Requirements Thomas Taylor , Oppose 2011 HB 579 on nmlegis.gov HB 579 died in House Energy & Natural Resources Committee. 0 579
PR SB 190/SB 459 Repeal Effectiveness of Some Rules , , Oppose 2011 SB 190/SB 459 on nmlegis.gov SB 190 and SB 459 died in Senate Judiciary Committee 0 190
SJM 26 Study Exporting Coal , Oppose 2013 SJM 26 on nmlegis.gov SJM 26 died on the Senate floor calendar. 70 26
HB 208 Study Workforce Training & Education , , Support 2018 HB 208 on nmlegis.gov HB 208 died in the House Appropriation and Finance Committee. 0 208
SB 251 Uranium Site Workforce Training Study , , Support 2018 SB 251 on nmlegis.gov SB 251 died in the Senate Finance Committee. 50 251
SB 413 Uses of Oil & Gas Reclamation Fund , , , Support 2017 SB 413 on nmlegis.gov SB 413 died on the Senate calendar. 50 413
PR SB 415 Utility Cost Limits , Oppose 2011 SB 415 on nmlegis.gov SB 415 died on the Senate Floor calendar (no vote taken). 50 415