CVNM 2015-2016 CONSERVATION SCORECARD:
WESTERN NEW MEXICO STATE LEGISLATORS LARGELY VOTE ALONG PARTY LINES
**Full Scorecard Available Here**
Santa Fe, N.M. – Today, Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) released the statewide Conservation Scorecard for the 52nd legislature. In the Scorecard, CVNM reports the votes cast on the most critical issues affecting our air, land, water, health and communities during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions. The 2015-2016 Scorecard also includes an analysis of State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn’s record on the environment in his first two years in office.
The average conservation score earned by Western New Mexico senators in the 2015-2016 Scorecard is 60%, four percentage points below the Senate-wide average. The average conservation score earned by Western New Mexico representatives in the 2015-2016 Scorecard is 59%, 11 percentage points above the House-wide average.
“Working alongside communities to ensure that their voices are the ones heard in the Capitol is the key to addressing the myriad environmental injustices around the state,” said Ben Shelton, CVNM Political and Legislative Director. “Both SB 94 and SB 391 encourage growth of industries outside the oil and gas industry and can provide much needed jobs. Given that Western New Mexico and the Four Corners region are heavily hit by the decline in demand for fossil fuels, we hope that these legislators will consider supporting other industries in the future.”
Legislators from Western New Mexico tended to vote along party lines during both legislative sessions. Here are a few noteworthy votes:
- Representatives Doreen “Wonda” Johnson and James Madalena were the only two Western New Mexico representatives that voted against House Bill (HB) 285 and House Memorial (HM) 40. A vote against these measures is the pro-conservation position.
- HB 285 (2016) was a greenwashed tax break for the oil and gas industry. The carbon savings that the bill tried to advertise were overstated.
- HM 40 (2016) authorizes the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance to construct a consolidated interim storage facility for the storage of spent nuclear fuel rods from commercial (for-profit) nuclear power generation plants.
- Senators Bill Sharer and George Munoz were the only two Western New Mexico senators to vote against anti-conservation SB 253, which would have outlawed coyote killing contests.
- While most Republican legislators from Western New Mexico voted against SB 391, Sen. Stephen Neville broke from his party to vote for the bill. A vote in favor of this bill is the pro-conservation position. Sen. Bill Sharer and Representatives Rod Montoya, James Strickler and Sharon Clahchischilliage all took the anti-conservation position.
- SB 391 (2016) would have extended the existing 10% tax credit for the installation of commercial, residential and agricultural solar systems, which is set to expire December 31, 2016. This 10% tax credit has helped many New Mexicans invest in solar energy for their homes, businesses and farms, improving the environment and public health by reducing the demand for coal-fired electricity.
- Bill Sharer, Reps. Montoya, Strickler and Clahchischilliage were the only three Western New Mexico legislators to vote against pro-conservation SB 94.
- SB 94 (2015) would have provided for licensing of the growing, selling and processing of industrial hemp in New Mexico. Industrial hemp is an incredibly versatile, fast-growing and drought-resistant agricultural product that requires virtually no pesticides or herbicides. It can be used to produce paper, textiles, plastics, fuel and food products, and has proven very profitable for farmers in other countries.
The 2015-2016 Scorecard includes votes on 16 Senate and 24 House pieces of legislation on critical issues that New Mexico’s decision-makers faced in the 52nd legislature. Along with this information, the 2015-2016 Conservation Scorecard features:
- An Executive Summary by CVNM Political and Legislative Director Ben Shelton highlighting successes and challenges the conservation community faced during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions
- In the Issue Spotlight, we take a deep dive into the five-bill push to strip away, or pre-empt, the ability of local governments to make decisions to protect their land and water in the 2015 session and the repercussions of the failure of the solar tax credit in the 2016 session
- Stories of critical moments for conservation during the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions
Here are just a few examples of harmful measures CVNM worked with allied organizations and legislators to successfully defeat. These measures would have:
- Extended additional tax breaks to the oil and gas industry, despite the severe budget deficit the state faces (HB 107, HB 285/SB 34, 2016)
- Replace the elected Public Regulation Commission (PRC) with a commission appointed by the governor, with certain safeguards in place to prevent overly political appointments. While there are certainly flaws in the electoral process, it is a more transparent venue than that of appointed positions. (HJR 8, 2016)
- Taken voting rights away from thousands of New Mexicans who are most impacted by environmental degradation (HB 340, 2015)
- Removed New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires utilities to provide 20% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 (HB 445, 2015)
CVNM also advocated for pro-active legislation. Here are two examples:
- Pollution, like legacy waste sites from uranium mining, not only endangers natural resources but also poses severe risks to public health. However, there is currently no process in place to study the impacts that environmental degradation has on the quality of health over time. HB 494 and SB 610 began to address this by creating a community health study fund, paid for by fines assessed to companies directly responsible for contamination.
- Extending existing tax credits to homeowners for installing solar power on their homes, making solar more affordable to more New Mexican families and supporting one of the few job-creating industries in NM (SB 392, 2015, HB 26/SB 13, 2016)
CVNM’s 2015-2016 Conservation Scorecard is available online via a fully interactive website at www.CVNM.org/Scorecard. Print versions are available upon request.
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, helping candidates win elections, holding elected officials accountable, and advancing responsible public policies.
Contact: Liliana Castillo, 505-992-8683 or Liliana@CVNM.org