FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Ben Shelton, Political and Policy Director | firstname.lastname@example.org or 505.467.9480
CONSERVATION VOTERS NEW MEXICO RELEASES 2020 CONSERVATION SCORECARD
Results show dramatic regional differences and a growing partisan divide despite widespread popular support for conservation values
SANTA FE – Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM), the leading environmental advocacy organization in New Mexico, released the Conservation Scorecard for the 2020 regular legislative session today. The Scorecard is a report on the votes cast by legislators on the most critical issues affecting our air, land and water and connects New Mexicans with their legislators’ environmental records.
In the “Director’s Message,” Demis Foster, Executive Director of CVNM, said, “The turbulence of 2020 has drastically reframed the conversation about the role of public policy and lawmakers. As we approach the 2021 session and beyond, New Mexico lawmakers are likely to explore ideas that have not had traction at the Roundhouse before. This makes our 2020 Conservation Scorecard a little unique. It’s a snapshot of the moment before the world as we knew it changed profoundly. We are in a moment of great transformation as a state and country.”
“The results of the 2020 Scorecard confirm a trend we have seen develop since our first Scorecard in 2005,” said Ben Shelton, CVNM’s Policy and Political Director. “New Mexico has a clear regional divide in terms of support for legislation to protect public lands and the environment, as well as in support for transforming New Mexico’s economy based on renewable energy. This geographic divide hints to a partisan divide, even though New Mexicans, despite being socially, culturally and economically diverse, overwhelmingly support conservation values and goals.”
The chart below shows a clear difference in legislative support between the western and eastern regions of the state. In the western half, the average legislative support for conservation and environmental issues ranged from just under 60% in the northwest, to nearly 70% in the Albuquerque region and southwest, to about 85% in the Santa Fe region. On the other hand, legislative support for these issues in the northeast was just 30% and fell to 10% in the southeast. In the House, which was generally less supportive of conservation and environmental issues in 2020 than the Senate, there was no legislative support from the southeast for protecting the environment and public lands or in building a renewable energy economy for the future.
The regional divide on conservation and environmental issues also hints at a partisan divide; legislators representing districts in the northeast and the southeast are overwhelmingly Republican, while there is generally more partisan mix in the other regions. The chart below shows that this partisan divide has shown up in every Scorecard since they began in 2005.
The 2011-2012 legislative Scorecard reveals a watershed moment in the partisan support for conservation and the environment. Senate Democrats had an unusual and sharp drop in support of these issues, unlike their House counterparts. However, this was a one-time event and both House and Senate Democrats have slightly increased their average support for the environment and conservation since then.
On the other hand, while Senate Republicans also showed a drop in support for conservation issues in the 2011-2012 Scorecard, they then reversed what had been a downward trend and returned to a level of support around 35%. However, the House Republicans significantly lowered their support for the environment after 2011-2012 to a level less than half that of Republicans in the Senate.
Despite these trends, CVNM believes that conservation issues and values are nonpartisan, and something that New Mexicans from all backgrounds and regions of the state care deeply about. New Mexico is socially, culturally and economically diverse. Repeated polling shows overwhelming support for protecting air and water quality, protecting public lands against resource extraction, and dealing with climate change, especially through a turn toward renewable energy development. In the annual Colorado College “Conservation in the West” poll from February 2020:
- 72% of New Mexicans consider themselves a “conservationist”
- 78% say that clean water and air, wildlife, and public lands are important to them
- 78% support the ambitious national goal of “30 x 30” to preserve 30% of land in the state as public land by 2030
- 74% favor conserving habitat over opening land up for oil and gas production
- 74% believe that water supplies are becoming more unpredictable
These New Mexican values have found a voice in a pro-conservation majority among state legislators and in the Governor. The state has rejoined the U.S. Climate Alliance, agencies are following the directive to include climate change as a lens for focusing their work, there are draft rules under development to cut methane waste and leaks of precursor chemicals, and a growing stream of pro-conservation, -environment, and -public lands legislation is coming out of the Legislature and being signed by the Governor.
“New Mexicans from every part of the state care deeply about the quality of our air and water and about protecting public lands,” said Greg Peters, CVNM’s Public Lands and Wildlife Advocate. “The Governor and legislators are working to help ensure that we develop an outdoor recreation economy that provides equitable jobs and access. The Scorecard is one way that voters can make sure their legislators reflect their values for public lands, wildlife and clean air and water.”
CVNM’s 2020 Scorecard offers insight into the voting records of each of New Mexico’s state legislators by region
- Albuquerque/Central Region
- Santa Fe Area
- Northwest Region
- Southwest Region
- Northeast Region
- Southeast Region
CVNM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization connecting the people of New Mexico to their political power to protect our air, land, and water for a healthy Land of Enchantment. CVNM does this by mobilizing voters, winning elections, holding elected officials accountable and advancing responsible public policies.
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