CVNM’s Top Administrative Priorities
New Mexico wins when we invest in our communities. After eight years of the most anti-conservation leadership New Mexico has ever seen – and at a time when we’re experiencing unprecedented attacks on environmental safeguards from the federal government – New Mexicans are ready for our leaders to correct our course and take the first critical steps down a path that leads to a healthier and more resilient state.
CVNM and CVNM Education Fund are working in partnership with communities to push leaders at all levels of state government to stabilize our budget, ensure a fairer economy and advocate for clean air, land and water.
During the 2019 legislative session, the CVNM family of organizations, community leaders, our ally organizations and Conservation Voters from across the state came together to pass three critical environmental policy solutions for New Mexico. Read more about how our new leaders have begun to forge a new path for environmental protection.»
We are working with elected leaders to minimize the boom-and-bust nature of our state economy by making it a priority to stabilize our economy on diverse sources of income. We can play to our strengths as we diversify our economy by taking action on climate change, ensuring everyone pays their fair share, holding polluters accountable, protecting cultural and public lands, and making public and environmental health a priority. We can make significant progress on these goals by passing these policies.
As our leaders forge a new path forward for our environment and public health, we will be focusing on three major policies that we’ve been working on for years. Now that we have the right people in office who are listening to their constituents and reflecting their deeply-rooted shared conservation values, the door is finally open to make progress on these important issues. After eight years of the most anti-conservation Governor New Mexico has ever had, there is progress to be made on every issue you care about. These priorities are the first critical steps we must take to help correct our course and make progress on the climate crisis and environmental injustices impacting our communities.
With your help, we will be advocating to reduce methane pollution from the oil and gas industry by creating a state methane capture rule. Methane is a super pollutant that is an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide—in terms of both climate change and the quality of the air we breathe. Methane escapes with other toxic air pollutants like volatile organic compounds that contribute to smog formation and carcinogens like benzene. That means when methane is leaked, vented and flared into our air, it can spike asthma attacks and cancer rates. And more methane is emitted into the air here than any other state. In fact, NASA discovered a giant methane “hotspot” the size of Delaware hovering over the San Juan Basin. It is one of the highest concentrations of airborne methane in the nation – and it disproportionately impacts our rural, Indigenous and Latino families in the Four Corners region by contributing to higher rates of asthma in communities already coping with a legacy of air and water pollution. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has committed to a state methane capture rule and we need to be a vocal part of this process to ensure we get a strong rule that protects our health and environment. In a landmark executive order to address climate change, Gov. Lujan Grisham ordered the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and Environment departments to begin the process of promulgating a methane capture rule. A new study shows methane emissions roughly double what was estimated for New Mexico just two years ago before the rapid increase in drilling began in the Permian Basin in Eddy County, highlighting the urgent need to get these emissions under control.
- Governor Lujan Grisham is fulfilling her promise to create a state-level methane rule.
- The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and Environment departments held meetings to gather public input and are now working with an advisory committee to create a draft of the rule.
- In August, the environmental community came together to create and distribute what we see as a set of core principles that the methane rule must meet in order to properly protect public health, the environment and reduce waste.
We will ask the New Mexico Environment Department to revisit the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal settlement to better reflect the input received from the public. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency settled with Volkswagen over Clean Air Act violations after the car company cheated on clean air testing for their diesel vehicles. Under former Gov. Martinez, the New Mexico Environment Department ignored the majority of public comments in support of utilizing these funds to transition diesel school buses to zero-emissions electric school buses. Electric school buses will reduce the impacts of diesel pollution on children in areas across the state, such as Albuquerque’s West Gate and South Valley neighborhoods, where they are disproportionately impacted by poor air quality. This presents a great opportunity to implement a solution that would directly assist the very communities impacted by dirty diesel and poor air quality, primarily low-income and communities of color.
- The New Mexico Environment Department revised the Mitigation Plan and reopened it for public comment. Read our sister organization CVNM Education Fund and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center’s public comments, urging NMED to better represent the adverse health effects of diesel exhaust, express clear preference for replacing diesel-fueled vehicles with electric vehicles and infrastructure and place greater emphasis on environmental justice concerns.
We will support Gov. Lujan Grisham in her commitment to stop the boondoggle Gila Diversion and begin an earnest investigation of how to better to deliver water to more communities in southwest New Mexico. In 2004, Congress passed the Arizona Water Settlements Act (AWSA) that authorized diversion of the Gila River if New Mexico agreed to buy water from Arizona to replace what we take out of the river. The AWSA provided $66 million for community water projects to meet local water needs and up to $62 million more if NM elects to divert and pipe the Gila River. The best cost estimates out there show that a diversion will cost at least $300 million. In addition to the negative environmental impacts of this boondoggle, the proposed diversion is unfair and unaffordable for both the people of southwest New Mexico and the rest of the state. The federal subsidy will not cover the full cost of the proposed action, leaving a gap of tens of millions of dollars for citizens to cover and will be spent to pipe a small amount of new irrigation water to a few irrigators and international mining giant Freeport-McMoRan. This is unfair to the rest of the 60,000 people of southwest New Mexico whose water systems need improvements. Gov. Lujan Grisham has committed to stop work and spending on plans to divert our last free-flowing river. Her administration will get significant push back, and they will need to hear from those of us who see a better path forward for meeting the water needs of southwestern New Mexico.
New Mexicans are ready for our leaders to correct our course and take the first critical steps down a path that leads to a healthier and more resilient state. When we get these policy changes over the finish line, we will have made significant progress to ensure everyone pays their fair share and we invest in our communities.
Your voice will be a critical part of this work. We hope you will continue to stay engaged to make these important changes. Join our email list, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and stay tuned for opportunities to engage at strategic moments in these decision-making processes.