January 18, 2023

by Jerry Redfern, Capital & Main

Three bills proposed for the New Mexico legislative session would shift the state’s focus on the oil and gas industry by emphasizing public safety and environmental protections, denying permits and increasing penalties for companies in violation of the law, and making it easier for citizen groups to sue scofflaw operators.

The bills would dramatically redirect the Oil and Gas Act, which was written to protect oil and gas resources for the state’s benefit, to include protecting the environment and the public, particularly marginalized communities. The legislation could be the largest change to the act since it was written in 1935.

Lawyers from the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), Earthworks, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) and the Coalition for Clean, Affordable Energy are still finalizing drafts of the three bills — the Oil and Gas Justice and Reform Act, a citizens’ suit bill and a bad actor bill (the last two are not yet named). …

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