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New Leaders Forge Path for Environmental Protection in New Mexico

By March 16, 2019November 29th, 2022Press Releases


Passage of the Energy Transition Act demonstrates broad support for holistic approaches to environmental protection, equitable transition and clean energy leadership

Santa Fe, N.M. — As the 2019 legislative session ends, Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM), the leading statewide environmental advocacy organization in New Mexico, announces the passage of key priority legislation that stabilizes our budget, ensures a fairer economy and clean air, land and water. This was the first session in recent memory that New Mexico was represented by a majority of pro-conservation legislators in the House and Senate and a pro-environment Governor.
“New Mexicans sent a strong message in the 2018 election that they support action on the climate crisis and environmental protection. Many new legislators, Governor Lujan Grisham and Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard ran and won on platforms that prioritized clean air, land and water. By proactively helping to move and enact these policies this session, our new leaders demonstrated their commitment to a clean and healthy state,” says Demis Foster, CVNM Executive Director.
Key to making progress on these goals was passage of CVNM’s top legislative priority, the Energy Transition Act (SB489). The Energy Transition Act sets an ambitious 100% carbon-free energy standard, enables the Public Regulation Commission to utilize a financial tool called securitization to close coal plants, creates funding to reinvest in the region that has depended on and been most impacted by coal production and establishes a framework to ensure Four Corners communities have a seat at the table in that process. The bill will boost renewable energy production, create jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and diversify the economy in coal-impacted areas. Read more about this bill elsewhere on our website.
“New Mexico is on the precipice of great change and the Energy Transition Act positions us well to ensure we push for an equitable transition to a clean energy economy and face the climate crisis head on,” says Demis Foster, CVNM Executive Director. “We are so proud to have been a part of getting the bill passed and applaud our conservation champion legislators and Gov. Lujan Grisham for their exceptional leadership on this vital bill.”
CVNM’s legislative priorities that passed:

  • The Energy Transition Act (SB 489) which includes a nation-leading increase to our Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040 and 100% carbon-free by 2045; about $40 million to help San Juan County communities and coal mine workers thrive and transition after the shutdown of the San Juan Generating Station; and local workforce training for traditionally disenfranchised communities and apprenticeships in labor union jobs. The bill enables a financial tool called “securitization” which will ensure ratepayers get the best the deal when coal plants close and maintains the Public Regulation Commission’s authority to approve of use of the tool to ensure ratepayers are protected.
  • There is significant opportunity to boost our rural economies with the creation of a Division of Outdoor Recreation (SB 462) that can work with local communities to leverage our public lands to better tap into the billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry — all while protecting traditional New Mexican land use practices. CVNM advocated for the inclusion of the Outdoor Equity Fund in this proposal, which would ensure youth and working families have equal access to outdoor recreation opportunities. The bill passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support – including unanimous approval by the Senate – and heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature.
  • Reinstate Oil Conservation Division (OCD) authority to assess civil penalties on oil and gas operators that violate the Oil and Gas Act (SB 186). A lawsuit in 2009 removed this authority, and the NM Supreme Court has ordered the legislature to update the law. New Mexicans deserve more fairness in society, the economy and in government. Individuals, businesses and government all have a responsibility to do their part and pay their fair share. SB 186 did not pass, but the bill’s language was added into HB 546 which did pass. CVNM remains neutral on HB 546 due to uncertainty of the environmental impacts of reusing oil and gas wastewater. As a community-driven organization, we have not yet engaged in a robust process to hear from community regarding this issue. Although the original bill stalled, we appreciate Sen. Richard Martinez for finding a way to reinstate the OCD’s regulating authority “These bills help correct our state’s strongly anti-conservation path and help us take the first critical steps toward a healthier and more resilient state for all New Mexicans,” says Ben Shelton, CVNM Political & Legislative Director. “The debate on these measures, whether they passed or not, demonstrated New Mexicans broad support for protecting our air, land and water.”

These are three of the many pro-environment measures that passed that CVNM supported in varying capacities throughout the legislative session. Our full legislative agenda of more than 100 bills that CVNM took a position on will be fully updated in the days following the session. The legislative agenda forms the basis of our Conservation Scorecard, published after each legislative session. The Scorecard provides objective, nonpartisan information about the conservation voting records of all members of the legislature.
CVNM is a statewide nonpartisan nonprofit that is connecting the people of New Mexico to their political power to protect our air, land and water for a healthy Land of Enchantment. We do this by mobilizing voters, winning elections, holding elected officials accountable and advancing responsible public policies.
Contact: Liliana Castillo at 505-819-7508 or