CVNM’s 2024 State Legislative Outcomes
As of February 19th, 2024 (1st Edition)
In every session, CVNM identifies bills that impact the air we breathe, the water we drink, our public lands and treasured wildlife, and our diverse communities. We evaluate each conservation-related bill and determine our top priority bills, other bills we’ll support, and any we oppose.
We deliver this agenda individually to each legislator so they know where we stand on specific conservation policy. We track votes on all our Agenda bills, and these voting records form the basis on which we hold legislators accountable each year in our annual Conservation Scorecard.
Out of dozens of bills we tracked this year 42 made it onto our agenda. We supported 30, and out of those, 11 passed. We opposed 11, none passed, and we were neutral on one bill that did not pass.
View the outcome of these agenda bills below.
New Mexico is one of only a handful of states still served by a “citizen legislature,” meaning that state legislators are not monetarily compensated and generally have occupations outside of their service as public officials. Although New Mexico legislators receive a modest allowance for mileage and expenses for attending sessions and interim committee meetings, the state constitution prohibits any other compensation.
A “legislature” in New Mexico, such as the “56th Legislature,” consists of two sessions split into two-year cycles, for which legislators convene in mid-January. In odd-numbered years, legislators convene for a “long session” of 60 days. In even-numbered years, they meet for a “short session” of 30 days, during which only budget matters and issues approved by the Governor may be considered. New Mexico legislative sessions are among the shortest in the country.
This summary is divided into seven sections:
- Priorities for New Mexico state budget appropriations
- Pro-conservation legislation that passed
- Pro-conservation legislation that didn’t pass
- Neutral legislation that passed
- Neutral legislation that didn’t pass
- Anti-conservation legislation that passed
- Anti-conservation legislation that didn’t pass
**Starred bills are high priority. Votes on these measures may be weighted on CVNM’s Conservation Scorecard.
1. Priorities for New Mexico State Budget Appropriations
As the state discussed how to spend the $3.5 billion surplus, several pro-conservation priorities were in the proposed budget package that will have a lasting impact for environmental protection. These proposals will help turn short-term volatile funds into long-term funding to leverage substantial additional federal funds.
Legislators successfully increased agency budgets moving into fiscal year 2025, which will enable environmental regulators to more fully execute their mission and vision. Notable budget outcomes include:
- An 8.8% increase in funding for the Department of Game and Fish, totalling $52.8 million. Species conservation received a 14% increase in funding.
- A 20.9% increase in funding for the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, including a $112% increase to the healthy forests program. The department’s new budget now is $188.2 million.
- A 19.9% increase in funding for the New Mexico Environment Department, bringing the agency budget to $116.9 million. The budgets for water protection programs increased 63%, and resource management 41.8%.
In addition, CVNM advocated for a number of appropriations to be included in House Bill 2, and is pleased to report the following amounts were included:
- $300 million for the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund, which will allow for land, water and wildlife projects to be funded in perpetuity
- $75 million for the NM Match Fund, allowing communities to leverage federal dollars for renewable energy and clean car infrastructure
- $7 million to the New Mexico Environment Department to design and implement surface water and groundwater permitting and regulatory enforcement
- $10 million to the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department for the Climate Investment Center
CVNM advocated for $50 million in funding to implement the Wildlife Corridors Act. Ultimately, only $5 million was allocated in House Bill 2 for this purpose. While we are disappointed that the full $50 million was not secured, we will continue advocating for more funds to implement this important program.
2. Pro-Conservation Legislation that Passed
HB 41 – Clean Fuel Standards (Ortez/Chandler/Stewart/Lara) HB 41 tasks the New Mexico Environment Department’s Environmental Improvement Board with establishing a statewide clean transportation fuel standard. This standard would need to be 20% below 2018 levels by 2030 and 30% below 2018 levels by 2040.
The Clean Fuel Standards will create more than 1,500 high-paying jobs in the energy sector, along with 2,300 construction jobs. It will also generate revenue from the sale of credits. These credits will be invested in low-income communities. Investments will focus on electrification and renewable energy.
With passage of this bill, consumers will have access to an alternative fuel source – one with competitive prices and lower emissions. Transportation is the state’s second-highest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Fuel Standard is a proactive change in reducing those emissions. It is also a much-needed step in reaching fully electric transportation. HB 41 passed the House 36-33, and passed the Senate 26-15. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
HB 91: Geothermal Resources Project Funds (Roybal Caballero/Lujan/Ortiz y Pino) SB 91 expands the EMNRD Energy Conservation and Management Division to include geothermal development projects. It also creates two new funds: a geothermal project development fund and a geothermal project revolving loan fund. Geothermal energy is an important resource for helping to move New Mexico away from fossil fuel production. Supporting development of these projects is a beneficial step for the future of the state. HB 91 passed the House 60-5, and passed the Senate 39-0. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
HB 92: Geothermal Electricity Generation Tax Credits (Roybal Caballero/Lujan/Ortiz y Pino) Geothermal energy is a clean, renewable energy source. It requires continued investment to achieve our state’s climate goals. New Mexico is ranked 6th in the nation for geothermal potential, and these tax incentives would have helped create a pathway for the state to realize that potential. HB 92 would have created a new geothermal electricity generation tax credit and corporate tax credit. It also would have created a gross receipts tax, along with compensating tax reductions. These incentives were designed to encourage the construction of geothermal electricity generation facilities and grow New Mexico’s renewable energy infrastructure. HB 92 was amended into the tax omnibus bill, SB 252 Adjust Income Tax Brackets (Lente). SB 252 passed the House (48-21) and Senate (26-13), and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
HB 140: Clean Car Income Tax Credit (Hochman-Vigil/Gurrola/Tallman/Herndon/Anyanonu)** HB 140 would have created personal and corporate tax credits for clean cars and clean car charging units. It also included a sunset provision at the end of 2030. For tax years 2024-2029, the bill created four categories of tax credit amounts. Each category was based on whether a car or charging unit is new or used, and whether it is electric or hybrid.
These credits ranged from $400 for normal charging units to $25,000 for fast-charging or fuel cell charging units. Those who claimed the 2021 sustainable building tax credit for charging unit purchases or installation would have been ineligible for these credits.
With the recent adoption of the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks standards, these credits would have been more relevant than ever. They would have helped provide everyday New Mexicans with an avenue to electric vehicle ownership. Transportation is the second-highest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. Getting more electric vehicles on the road is a step we must take to achieve New Mexico’s emission goals. HB 140 was amended into the tax omnibus bill, SB 252 Adjust Income Tax Brackets (Lente). SB 252 passed the House (48-21) and Senate (26-13), and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
HB 177: NM Match Fund (Dixon/Armstrong/Woods/Campos/Herrera)** HB 177 creates a New Mexico Match Fund of $100 million. Managed by the state treasury, the funds will be annual and non-reverting, and used to support grantmaking efforts. A host of state and local entities can apply for these grants. For a complete list of eligible entities, click here.
There is an enormous, once-in-a-lifetime amount of federal funding currently available. It comes from several sources, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). States, local governments and other public entities can apply for this funding. The funding is for infrastructure build-out, clean energy development, workforce training, pollution cleanup, and other essential functions.
Over the past year, New Mexico has had difficulty accessing this funding. This is because there is a requisite “local match” or “state match” that many of these federal funding opportunities require. NM Match Fund seeks to change this requirement by creating a “state match” fund. Without this fund, New Mexico risks leaving billions of dollars on the table. With these funds, we can ensure rural communities are not left behind in our transition away from fossil fuels. HB 177 passed the House 65-0, and passed the Senate 37-0. It now awaits the Governor’s signature. The NM Match Fund received a $75 million appropriation in House Bill 2.
HB 182: Election Changes (Chasey/Little/Duhigg) HB 182 amends the Campaign Reporting Act (CRA) to require disclaimers on any election-related media produced by artificial intelligence (AI) and regulate materially deceptive media. It makes the distribution of materially deceptive media without a disclaimer a violation of the CRA, and creates two classes of penalties – misdemeanor and felony.
This bill was supported by the office of the New Mexico Secretary of State, who has said it “would create the needed transparency to help build trust among New Mexico’s voters in the electoral process.” This bill makes New Mexico the 5th state in the nation to mandate disclosure for AI-related campaign media. HB 182 passed the House 38-28, and passed the Senate 25-14. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
HB 274: Advanced Energy Equipment Tax Credit (Serrato/Dixon) New Mexico has recently had success attracting new renewable energy businesses, including Maxeon Solar and Arcosa Towers. As renewable manufacturing and operations grow, tax incentives will help motivate more businesses to invest in our state. HB 274 would have created a new tax credit for individuals and corporations for the production of any advanced energy product (to include wind and solar power, and other efforts targeted at reducing greenhouse gas emissions). The tax credit would have been either 20% of costs associated with the product, or $25 million. The tax credit would sunset at the end of calendar year 2033. HB 274 was amended into the tax omnibus bill, SB 252 Adjust Income Tax Brackets (Lente). SB 252 passed the House (48-21) and Senate (26-13), and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
SB 5: Firearms Near Polling Places (Wirth/Szczepanski/McKenna/Cervantes) SB 5 makes it a petty misdemeanor to bring a firearm within 100 feet of a polling location and within 50 feet of a ballot drop box, creating a safer environment for all voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote. SB 5 passed the Senate 26-16, and passed the House with amendments 35-34. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
SB 169: Land & Water Conservation Fund Changes (Stewart/Neville) SB 169 amends the Outdoor Recreation Act and describes the distribution of the state supplemental land and water conservation fund. It also appropriates an additional $10 million in non-reverting dollars to the fund. It removes the requirement that political subdivisions must provide matching funds, and raises the population cap for municipalities from 15,000 to 65,000.
This bill prioritizes funds disbursement to tribal entities and rural communities. Additionally, it caps state park distributions at 7% of the annual apportionment. SB 169 passed the Senate 38-0, and passed the House 64-0. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
SB 121: Solar Market Development Tax Credit Changes (Stewart/Pope/Hamblen/Jaramillo/Correa Hemphill) SB 121 would have amended New Mexico’s solar market development income tax credit, allowing it to apply to businesses or agricultural enterprises owned by tribal entities. Additionally, it would have raised the cap on annual aggregate amounts for certified credits to $32 million for calendar years 2020-2023 and $30 million for 2024 and after. This would have been an increase from the existing statute, which caps annual aggregate amounts for certified credits at $12 million. This bill would also have permitted retroactive application of the new aggregate limits to previous tax years in which the $12 million cap may have been reached. Increasing the cap would allow for more solar subscribers to take advantage of the tax credit each year, which many residents rely on to offset the costs of solar panel installation. SB 121 died in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee. However, SB 121 was amended into the tax omnibus bill, SB 252 Adjust Income Tax Brackets (Lente). SB 252 passed the House (48-21) and Senate (26-13), and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
SB 232: Energy Storage Industrial Revenue Bonds (Wirth/Chandler/Jaramillo) Energy storage is critical to improving the reliability of the electricity grid, although energy storage technology is still costly. SB 232 would have added “energy storage facilities” to the list of eligible recipients of industrial and county industrial revenue bonds acts. It would also have amended the GRT deduction statute to include energy storage facilities. This would have increased the likelihood and ability of renewable energy developers to invest in and build out energy storage options in both the short and long term. SB 232 died in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee. However, SB 232 was amended into the tax omnibus bill, SB 252 Adjust Income Tax Brackets (Lente). SB 252 passed the House (48-21) and Senate (26-13), and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
3. Pro-Conservation Legislation that didn’t Pass
HB 48/SB 24: Oil and Gas Future Royalty Rate (McQueen/Tallman) HB 48 would have increased the maximum oil and gas royalty payment amount from 20% to 25% of the amount and value produced on leased land. New Mexico’s oil and gas industry currently pays far lower royalty rates than other states with robust oil and gas production. With this increase, the oil and gas industry would have paid its fair share to state trust lands, increasing revenue for the state. HB 48 passed the House 39-28, but died in the Senate Finance Committee.
HB 73: Energy Storage Systems Income Tax Credit (Sariñana/Lujan) Tax credits are necessary to spur consumer investments in clean energy technology. These tax incentives would have broadened the accessibility of energy storage systems to low-income and middle-class New Mexicans. These credits would have aided in speeding up New Mexico’s transition from fossil fuels. HB 73 would also have created an energy storage system tax credit of up to $5,000 for installing residential storage systems, and a credit of up to $150,000 for commercial energy storage systems. HB 73 died in the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
HB 104: Statewide Public Health & Climate Program (Szczepanski/Stefanics) HB 104 would have created a new program under the Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau of the Department of Health related to public health and climate, as well as a new public health and climate resiliency fund. This bill would have appropriated $11.1 million in reverting general fund dollars to be issued in grants of up to $250,000 to political subdivisions and tribal entities.
These funds were to be used to assist local communities with:
- public health emergencies;
- improvement of interagency collaboration;
- assistance in the formation of action plans;
- offerings of expertise for planning purposes; and
- engagement with those most harmed by the effects of climate change.
This fund would have encouraged the expansion of solar adoption in New Mexico by providing technical assistance in completing federal grant applications and for the planning, design, construction, purchase and installation of solar generation. It would also have helped low- to middle-income New Mexicans gain better access to solar energy. HB 104 died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 108: Local Solar Access Fund (Szczepanski/Roybal Caballero/Rodriguez/Castellano/Pope) HB 108 would have created a new non-reverting fund managed by the Department of Finance and Administration to enhance access to solar energy and appropriated $110 million to the fund.
This fund would have encouraged the expansion of solar adoption in New Mexico by providing technical assistance in federal grant applications and planning, designing, constructing, purchasing and installing solar generation. The fund would also have helped many low- to middle-income New Mexicans gain access to solar energy. HB 108 died in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
HB 133: Oil & Gas Act Changes (Ortez/McQueen/Parajón/Stewart) The laws that govern the oil and gas industry haven’t been meaningfully updated in decades. The Oil and Gas Act was initially adopted in 1935. As a result, the state lacks the tools it needs to ensure common-sense safeguards are in place, especially for communities living adjacent to the industry.
HB 133 would have updated the Oil & Gas Act to raise the cap on “blanket plugging financial assurance” from $250,000 to $10 million. This bill would have also tripled certain application and permitting fees from $150 to $450 and from $500 to $1,500, allowing for future increases in application fees. It would have substantially increased the cap on penalties for violations, and expanded the scope of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Oil Conservation Division to include the regulation of transfer and conversion of oil drilling operations. HB 133 passed through House committees, but died waiting to be scheduled for the House Floor.
HB 178: Reform State Game Commission (McQueen) This bill would have reformed the state Game Commission appointment process, set staggered term limits for the commissioners, and added requirements for appointment and removal of commissioners. These changes to our state wildlife management framework are necessary to meet the goals of conserving species and habitat. They also are essential for protecting our outdoor way of life in the face of climate change. The updates would have placed New Mexico on a firmer path toward addressing wildlife management in a comprehensive, science-based way that is aligned with public trust principles. HB 178 would also have helped New Mexico become a national model in wildlife management by expanding the Commission’s representation to ensure that at least some members have significant scientific backgrounds in wildlife science, and allowing commissioners to be removed only for cause. HB 178 died in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 291: Allow Water Reuse Requirements (Gurrola/Cates/Herrera/Chávez) HB 291 would have authorized cities and counties to adopt ordinances to support the harvesting and storage of water, and to recycle and reuse water. This bill would have created a strategy to incentivize rainwater harvesting and water recycling, which conserves groundwater, saves energy and limits the harms of stormwater runoff. HB 291 died in the House Agriculture, Acequias and Water Resources Committee.
HJR 4/SJR 8: Environmental Rights, Constitutional Amendment (Ferrary/Sedillo Lopez) HJR 4 would have put the proposed “Green Amendment” on the ballot for New Mexico voters. This amendment would have added a declaration of environmental rights to the New Mexico Constitution, establishing and expanding trusteeship of state natural resources to the state, counties, and municipalities. HJR 4 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
HJR 7: Commission on Legislative Salaries, Constitutional Amendment (Rubio/Garratt/Duhigg/Ortez/O’Neill) HJR 7 would have put a constitutional amendment to the voters of New Mexico. If passed, it would have created a nine-member citizen commission on legislative salaries and the commission’s work. This commission would have included no more than five members from a single political party. Additionally, this bill would have changed the basis of per diem payments from the IRS to the federal General Services Administration and created salaries for New Mexico legislators upon approval by the commission.
This bill could have been a significant step forward in professionalizing the New Mexico legislative process and making elected office more accessible to the general public. HJR 7 passed through House committees, but died waiting to be heard on the House Floor.
SB 1: Water Trust Fund (Wirth/Chatfield/Stefanics/Cervantes) SB 1 would have transferred $100 million from the general fund to the Water Trust Fund, which is essential for funding state water projects. This appropriation would have supported the Fund’s ability to distribute adequate funding to accomplish various projects across New Mexico, from supporting soil and water conservation districts to water conservation and flood prevention projects. SB 1 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 9: Conservation Legacy Fund (Neville/Wirth/Cervantes)** Consistency is one of the key outcomes of SB 9 Conservation Legacy Fund. For years, New Mexico has lacked consistent funding for our state conservation agencies. SB 9 changes this by appropriating $300 million from the general fund to the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund.
The importance of this fund is in the math. When the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund was passed last year, it was created as two separate funds: the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund (LELF) and the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund (CLPF). Each fund received an initial investment of $50 million. The LELF is to start funding state agencies and conservation projects by 2025. It would do so by paying out 25% percent of its budget to the following entities:
- 22.5% to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
- 50% allocated to the forestry division
- 50% allocated for the Natural Heritage Conservation Act
- 22.5% to the New Mexico State University Department of Agriculture
- 10% to the Department of Environment
- 15% to the Economic Development Department
- 25% allocated for the Outdoor Equity Grant Program
- 75% allocated to the Outdoor Recreation Division
- 8% to the Cultural Affairs Department
- 22% to the Department of Game and Fish
The CLPF, on the other hand, was placed under the management of the State Investment Council, and its funds were invested to begin accruing interest to eventually be paid out into the LELF.
Unfortunately, as it stood, the CLPF would not have been able to replenish the LELF until 2040. This is because the CLPF can only distribute investment income to the LELF if its balance remains above $150 million. SB 9 Conservation Legacy Fund eliminates this roadblock by growing the CLPF overnight. With a CLPF at $350 million, it is estimated that the fund could start making distributions to the LELF by 2026.
This advance in timeline translates to consistency for not only our agencies and programs but for all New Mexicans. It means predictable funding for expanding conservation, building climate resilience, and supporting healthy communities for generations to come. While technically not passed, SB 9 lived on in HB 2, the state budget bill, which successfully appropriated the same $300 million from the general fund to the Conservation Legacy Permanent Fund. SB 9 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 24/HB 48: Oil & Gas Development Royalty Rates (Tallman/McQueen) SB 24 would have increased the maximum oil and gas royalty payment amount from 20% to 25% of the amount and value produced on leased land. New Mexico’s oil and gas industry currently pays far lower royalty rates than other states with robust oil and gas production. With this increase, the oil and gas industry would have to pay its fair share to state trust lands and increase revenue for the state. SB 24 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 40: Geothermal Heat Pump Tax (Soules) SB 40 would have extended an income tax credit that expired in 2020 for taxpayers who purchase and install a geothermal ground-coupled heat pump system. The pumps can be installed at their residence, business or agricultural enterprise. This tax credit would equal up to 30% of the purchase and installation costs of the heat pump system.
Geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy by up to 44% over air-source heat pumps, saving consumers money and reducing carbon emissions. New Mexico is ranked 6th in the nation for geothermal energy potential. To achieve a just transition away from oil and gas, we need to incentivize investments in clean, renewable energy. These types of tax credits would also ensure more New Mexicans of varying income classes will be able to afford these investments. SB 40 died in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
SB 79: Statewide Composting Program (Campos/Chatfield/Wirth) SB 79 would have tasked the New Mexico Environment Department with creating a working group to assess the feasibility of a statewide composting program. It sought to appropriate $65,000 from the general fund for this purpose. The working group would have included membership from a broad group of stakeholders. A statewide composting initiative could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. It would have been particularly helpful in addressing food waste currently sent to landfills, where it releases methane as it decomposes. Methane is approximately 86 times more insulating than carbon dioxide. SB 79 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 82: Insurance for Search & Rescue Volunteers (Steinborn) SB 82 would have required the General Services Department’s Risk Management Division to continue to maintain its insurance policy covering search and rescue volunteers. By doing so, it would have maintained its support for safe outdoor recreation and the outdoor recreation industry in New Mexico. This bill would have required additional coverage and/or protections for search and rescue personnel who may be involved in operations related to people engaged in outdoor recreation. SB 82 died in the Senate Committees Committee.
SB 95: T Or C Water Lines (Diamond Brantley/Armstrong/Jaramillo) This bill would have ensured safe and sustainable water for approximately 6,000 residents of Truth or Consequences by replacing and improving the city’s significantly outdated water lines (including some constructed with wood). Disruption from broken lines impacts water quality and disrupts the ability of the city to run core services, including hospitals and schools. Drought induced by climate change has increased the need to conserve and ensure the efficiency of all water resources. This community is losing up to 50% of its annual water supply because of these outdated water lines. SB 95 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 111: Protect State Waters (Correa Hemphill/Sariñana/Stefanics/Wirth)** In May 2023, the US Supreme Court gutted the Clean Water Act in its Sackett v EPA decision. It narrowed the Environmental Protection Agencies’ ability to enforce protections for our nation’s wetlands. New Mexico is one of only three states that relies on those federal protections. More than 90% of New Mexico’s surface waters could be left without protection following this decision.
SB 111 sought to address this vulnerability by appropriating funds to the New Mexico Environment Department to protect surface water in New Mexico. This would have been done in two ways: by monitoring and enforcing water regulations, and by increasing water mapping programs.
The aim of the water mapping is to better understand how the US Supreme Court’s interpretation of the federal Clean Water Act has impacted almost all of New Mexico’s surface waters. SB 111 died in the Senate Finance Committee. However, $7 million was allocated to NMED in the budget to enforce water regulations and increase water mapping programs.
SB 266: Acequia & Community Ditch Funding (Gonzales/Jaramillo) SB 266 would have supported the executive budget recommendation for $1.5 million for acequia and community ditch funding through the Acequia and Community Ditch Fund Act. The act would have provided necessary assistance to support legal and technical assistance for adjudication, settlement negotiation and settlement implementation. SB 266 died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SJR 8/HJR 4: Environmental Rights Constitutional Amendment (Sedillo Lopez/Pinto/Lopez/Ferrary/Lujan) SJR 8 would have put the proposed “Green Amendment” on the ballot for New Mexico voters. This amendment would have added a declaration of environmental rights to the New Mexico Constitution, establishing and expanding trusteeship of state natural resources to the state, counties, and municipalities. SJR 8 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
4. Neutral Legislation that Passed
No neutral legislation was passed.
5. Neutral Legislation that didn’t Pass
HB 190 /cs: Public Private Partnership Agreements (Garratt/Lundstrom/Brown/Padilla) As originally introduced, HB 190 would have dangerously facilitated private control of projects that should remain in the public trust. After raising these concerns to the sponsor, amendments were made to the bill that would have adequately protected the public from privatization of water, wastewater and other vital public services. CVNM opposed the original version of the bill. The bill was amended to address our concerns, and CVNM changed our position to neutral. HB 190 passed the House 56-9, and died in the Senate Judiciary Committee (was not heard).
6. Anti-Conservation Legislation that Passed
A number of measures posed great risks to New Mexico’s natural resources – by subsidizing polluters, removing regulations, or encouraging activities that threaten our environment. We urged all Representatives and Senators to OPPOSE these bills, and we are pleased to report that they were all DEFEATED.
However, a tax exemption for stripper wells was included in the tax package. This exemption allows for oil and gas producers that comply with methane regulations to receive an exemption severance tax. See SB 64 below for more detail.
7. Anti-Conservation Legislation that didn’t Pass
HB 150: Renewable Energy Production Tax Act (Block) HB 150 would have created a punitive 3.75% tax on each megawatt-hour of energy produced from renewable resources by private entities in New Mexico. This bill would have weaponized the tax system against the development of renewable energy resources in New Mexico, thus perpetuating the energy and economic reliance of our state on the extractive fossil fuels industry.
If New Mexico is to achieve a just transition away from fossil fuels, we cannot afford to subject renewable energy companies to this tax. We need to incentivize production of clean, renewable energy, not hinder the industry. HB 150 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee (tabled on 6-4 vote).
HB 259: State Investment in Climate Technology (Serrato/Dixon) HB 259 would have directed 2% of the severance tax permanent fund to be invested in “climate technology private equity funds” and outlined guidance for the state investment officer. This bill would have been a handout to the hydrogen industry at the expense of clean renewable energy investments. HB 259 died in the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee (tabled on 8-2 vote).
SB 64: Severance Tax Exemption for Certain Projects (Griggs) SB 64 would have exempted natural gas projects that comply with Oil Conservation Commission venting, flaring and ozone rules from the oil and gas severance tax. This bill was an attempt at a dangerous rollback of tax regulations on the fossil fuel industry. SB 64 died in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee. However, aspects of SB 64 were amended into the tax omnibus bill, SB 252 Adjust Income Tax Brackets (Lente). SB 252 passed the House (48-21) and Senate (26-13), and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
SB 172: Forest Conservation Act & Timber (McCutcheon/Woods/Chatfield) The New Mexico Forestry Division was created in 1957 to address and protect the needs of the state’s forests and watersheds. This Division monitors and addresses overgrowth, invasive species, and rare plant species protection, and promotes healthy watersheds. The Division also enables private property owners to enter into easements, allowing vulnerable lands or watersheds to be restored. SB 172 would have threatened the ability of the Division to do this important work by repealing section 12 of the Forest Conservation Act, which would have prevented the Division from entering into agreements to acquire new land for easements, restoration or other purposes. SB 172 died in the Senate Committees Committee.
SB 173: Natural Heritage Conservation Act Changes** (McCutcheon/Woods/Chatfield) SB 173 would have amended the Natural Heritage Conservation Act to remove authorization for the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) to receive or bequest conservation or agricultural easements, or to acquire easement interests, water rights or other rights of access.
This bill would have dangerously hamstrung EMNRD’s ability to conserve lands, water and rights of access to public lands and water, profoundly damaging conservation in New Mexico. SB 173 died in the Senate Committees Committee.
SB 183: Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Registration Fees (Gonzales/Tallman) SB 183 would have amended the motor vehicle code to add additional registration fees of $120 for electric vehicles and $60 for hybrid plug-in vehicles. This bill would have made electric vehicle ownership more expensive, and disincentivized electrification of New Mexico’s roads. SB 183 died in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
SB 198: Game Commission Land & Water Acquisitions (McCutcheon/Woods/Chatfield) The Game Commission manages lands often designated as Wildlife Management Areas to protect wildlife and the broader ecosystem. Statute also enables property owners to sell their land to the Commission to allow for wildlife protection and management. SB 198 would have created unjustified barriers to the Commission’s duties, preventing them from entering into partnership with private landowners for land acquisition. SB 198 died in the Senate Committees Committee.
SB 294: Strategic Water Supply Program (Stefanics/Muñoz/Sharer) SB 294 was intended to start the Governor’s strategic water initiative, but the bill had several significant issues. It was aimed at brackish water that is at least 2,500 feet below ground surface. That is water over which the State Engineer does not have jurisdiction, and although the Bill states that the Environment Department shall consult with the State Engineer (among others) to determine whether the extraction of the brackish water will impair existing water rights, it made no provision for other water rights holders or members of the public to be able to protest proposed extractions of brackish water from deep aquifers.
The bill also contained no provisions indicating that the extraction of brackish water may be allowed only if that extraction does not impair New Mexico’s interstate compact obligations. There was also nothing in the Bill to indicate that the program must be preceded by an analysis of how much brackish water there is or how the waste generated by processing the brackish water would be disposed of in a safe manner.
Finally, the small amount of existing research on deep brackish water aquifers indicates that those aquifers are not replenished. This means that the proposed program would have called for the mining of a non-renewable resource. SB 294 made it through the Senate Conservation Committee with no recommendation, and died in the Senate Finance Committee.
SJM 1: Support National Infrastructure Bank (Tallman) SJM 1 would have urged Congress to support H.R. 4052, the National Infrastructure Bank Act of 2023. H.R. 4052 aimed to create a national infrastructure bank to finance infrastructure projects. Communities across the nation have urged leaders to support increased resources to address aging and failing infrastructure. Although infrastructure funding is sorely needed, H.R. 4052, as written, would also have dangerously allowed for broad private-public partnerships, resulting in potential privatization of essential services like wastewater treatment and public water systems. SJM 1 died in the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee.
SM 2: Repeal Electric Vehicle Mandate (Neville/Nibert) SM 2 would have asked that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) repeal clean car standards. It would have also required the EIB to make no further decisions about electric vehicles without first conducting a feasibility study. This would have weakened progress made on environmental regulation of automobiles, taking New Mexico backward on the transition to electric vehicles. SM 2 died in the Senate Rules Committee.
SM 14: Oil & Gas Facility Setbacks Study (Sharer) SM 14 was an industry answer to SM 8, which called for a study of the need for setbacks from oil and gas facilities based on evidence of harms to human health and the environment resulting from close proximity to oil and gas facilities. By contrast, SM 14 focused on the alleged extensive regulation of the oil and gas industry by the state and federal governments and the benefits that the oil and gas industry provides to New Mexico’s economy. It did call for a study to determine whether setbacks are appropriate, but SM 14 provided that the study should focus on the economic impacts to the state if setbacks are imposed and on the adoption of setbacks that prevent waste and protect correlative rights while protecting human health and the environment. SM 14 was withdrawn from the Senate Rules Committee after receiving assignments to SRC and Senate Conservation.