Legislative Session Sees Big Wins for Renewable Energy & Wildlife
By: Ben Shelton, Political & Policy Director
In February, the 30-day 2020 legislative session closed after focusing solely on the financial matters of the state and building
New Mexico’s budget. CVNM engaged heavily in this process to ensure critical dollars were allocated to our state’s underfunded environmental agencies and departments. In addition to this critical work, our advocacy team worked around the clock to analyze and advocate for 45 bills that increased access to renewable energy, addressed pollution, and protected our wildlife.
With only 30 days to move policy through the legislative process, it is extremely challenging to get substantive legislation passed. That being said, a number of pro-conservation bills made it through this year and are awaiting the Governor’s signature. Here are a few highlights:
- HB 233 – Energy Grid Modernization Roadmap, sponsored by Representatives Stansbury, Akhil, Small, and Senators Woods and Stewart. This legislation establishes a roadmap to assist New Mexico in modernizing the state energy grid, which will expand access for families to more renewable energy resources and increase energy-efficiency.
- HB 304 – Transfer Outdoor Equity Grant Program, sponsored by Representative Rubio. This legislation aligns the administration of the Outdoor Equity Fund grant program with the intent of the Outdoor Recreation Division, helping to ensure that New Mexico’s youth have equitable access to the outdoors.
- SB 29 – Solar Market Development Income Tax Credit, sponsored by Senator Stewart and Representative McQueen. This bill incentivizes installation of solar energy systems and utilizing renewable resources to produce energy. CVNM worked in partnership with our allies, the sponsors, and Environment New Mexico, and are grateful for their leadership on this issue.
- SB 75 – Wildlife Trafficking Act, sponsored by Senator Stewart. This legislation makes trafficking of animal species threatened with extinction a misdemeanor and establishes penalties and enforcement guidance. The passage of this bill was made possible by the hard work of our allies at Defenders of Wildlife, Ruth Musgrave, Kent Salazar, Representative Gail Chasey and most importantly Senator Mimi Stewart.
CVNM also worked in partnership with allies to secure $750,000 in capital outlay allocation for the Strategic Water Reserve, a much-needed tool that allows the state to meet its water compact duties and protect threatened and endangered fish and wildlife. This is one of the largest appropriations that the Strategic Water Reserve has ever received, and will help them protect New Mexico’s waters from threats to our shared water supply.
One of CVNM’s biggest priorities for the 2020 legislative session was HB 9 – The Community Solar Act, sponsored by House Speaker Representative Brian Egolf and Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero.HB 9 aimed to increase access to renewable energy for families by allowing utility customers who rent, or are otherwise prevented from installing rooftop solar, to have equal access to the benefits of generating their own electricity from the sun.
After a lot of hard work by the bill sponsors and community advocates, the bill made it all the way to the House floor. Unfortunately, after nearly three hours of robust debate, the Community Solar Act failed to pass by a vote of 28-36. While this bill didn’t make it all the way to the Governor’s desk this year, our work doesn’t stop there. We’re gearing up to launch a robust stakeholder process to continue shaping this legislation for reintroduction in January 2021. We are committed to seeing this legislation become a reality.
We are so grateful for your support and want to say thank you for standing with us throughout the legislative session. Each action you took made a big difference and helped to secure critical policy to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. We look forward to working with you to continue to make New Mexico’s future more sustainable.