2021 Legislative Priorities
This year will be a year unlike any other at the Roundhouse. As we embark on the first-ever online legislative session, NMELC will be championing five bills in the name of environmental justice. Watch the video below to hear about NMELC’s priorities for the 2021 legislative session!
Creating a Private Right of Action
Private Right of Action for Certain Statutes (HB-50).
This bill creates private rights of action in the environmental statutes: the Air Quality Control Act, the Water Quality Act, the Hazardous Waste Act, the Solid Waste Act, and the Oil and Gas Act (a private right of action provision already exists in the Mining Act). Rep. Georgene Louis is the sponsor this bill which we believe would be an important step towards environmental justice in New Mexico to ensure that individuals can sue to protect the environment, rather than leaving enforcement solely to the state agencies.
Hearing a lot of different things about what HB50 does?
Local Government Air Quality Regulations (SB-8)
This bill removes the clauses in the Air Quality Control Act and the Hazardous Waste Act that bar the Environmental Improvement Board, local governments and the NM Environment Department from adopting regulations that are “More Stringent Than” federal regulations.This legislation would make it easier for the Environment Department to regulate ozone precursors (VOCs and NOx) from oil and gas production. Reducing VOC and NOx emissions effectively reduces methane emissions, and combats climate change. Sen. Peter Wirth is sponsoring this bill, and Rep. Andres Romero will carry it in the House.
Increasing the Maximum Civil Penalties
Increasing Penalties for Environmental Violations (SB-296)
This bill increases the Maximum Civil Penalties that can be collected under the environmental statutes by adjusting the penalty amounts for inflation that has occurred since the passing of each penalty provision. This bill covers the penalty provisions in the Air Quality Control Act, the Water Quality Act, the Hazardous Waste Act, the Solid Waste Act, and the Mining Act. The bill doubles the maximum penalties under these laws. It does not cover the Oil and Gas Act because that Act’s penalty provision was amended in 2019. Right now, the same monetary penalties have been on the books for 30–40 years. Monetary penalties are our best way to push polluters to change their practices and not violate New Mexico’s environmental protection laws. Senator Brenda McKenna and Senator Jeff Steinborn are sponsoring this bill.
Protecting New Mexico from Oil and Gas Waste
Protect Our Water Bill (SB-86).
This bill provides Protection from Oil and Gas Waste, requiring oil and gas producers to preserve fresh water, reuse their polluted waste water on the oil field, and prohibit use of their waste water (i.e. “produced water”) outside of oil and gas production, unless they can show that it will not result in water pollution. Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez is the sponsor of this bill.
Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Climate Solutions Act (HB-9)
The Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) establishes nation-leading carbon pollution-reduction targets to benefit current and future generations while ensuring that all New Mexicans will benefit from the increased jobs provided in a green economy.
The bill promotes environmentally conscious and resilient economic development, resulting in the creation of high-quality jobs for everyday New Mexicans. The bill ensures that most impacted and historically disadvantaged communities have a seat at the table to create a more diversified and resilient economy as we move to a net-zero-carbon future. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Melanie Stansbury and Angelica Rubio, House Speaker Brian Egolf and Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and Senators Benny Shendo and Carrie Hamblen.
Join Our Environmental Justice Advocacy Team!
Interested in working more closely with NMELC during the legislative session?
Join our team of volunteer EJ policy advocates! Advocates will play a key role in supporting our priority legislation and other legislation the Law Center is supporting.