The defining feature of the 2019 legislative session was the presence and influence of new Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The short version is this: over her first 100 days, Governor Lujan Grisham has governed the way that she campaigned – energetic, full of ideas and not afraid to push the envelope. While this Scorecard is focused on legislative votes and policy, the Governor wasn’t afraid to push beyond the legislature to start articulating her vision for New Mexico’s energy and environmental future.
Climate Executive Order
On January 29, the Governor signed Executive Order 2019-003 addressing climate change and energy transition. This order did several things at the same time. It served to join New Mexico in the U.S. Climate Alliance, joining 22 other states in a commitment to meet the 2016 Paris Agreement. It committed state agencies to work together to develop and execute plans and policies to achieve the emissions targets necessary for compliance with the Paris Agreement, including energy efficiency and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) increases. Finally, it directed state agencies to immediately begin taking steps to eliminate methane emissions from the oil and gas industry.
We saw significant gains in conservation and climate policy during the 2019 legislative session. The legislature ultimately sent 16 pieces of pro-conservation legislation to the Governor’s desk for signature, many of which were actively supported and advocated for by the Governor’s office and her cabinet secretaries. The first and most notable is the Energy Transition Act (ETA, Senate Bill 489). This bill requires the state to achieve RPS targets of 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040, and to hit 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. The ETA also includes provisions to allow utilities to securitize undepreciated capital costs of coal plants and provides transitional funding for local communities impacted by the closure of the coal plants. The Governor signed this bill into law on March 22.
The Governor was instrumental in passing legislation that created an Outdoor Recreation Division in the Economic Development Department (Senate Bill 462), along with an attached “Equity Fund” designed to develop outdoor recreation infrastructure and opportunity for low income families and youth across New Mexico. The Outdoor Equity Fund is the first of its kind in the nation. The Governor signed this bill into law on April 2.
CVNM supported legislation to re-establish the authority of the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) to assess administrative fines and penalties for violations of the Oil & Gas Act (Senate Bill 186). While SB 186 ultimately stalled, the content of the bill was amended into other legislation that did pass (House Bill 546). This administrative penalty authority will be a critical component to OCD’s ability to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for their impact on our air, land and water, including meaningful action to eliminate methane emissions in New Mexico.
These are just a few of the vital pro-conservation bills that the Governor was instrumental in passing. There are many more that passed that will have myriad positive impacts on New Mexico. Please visit scorecard.cvnm.org to read about them.
The Governor has appointed conservation-minded leaders to both of the major environmental regulatory cabinet posts. In addition to being exceptionally qualified as environmental and energy regulators, both of her appointments have demonstrated a collaborative and transparent approach to their regulatory responsibilities.
For Secretary of the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) the Governor tapped Sarah Cottrell-Propst. A long-time conservation champion in her own right (and former CVNM board president), she most recently had served as the executive director of Interwest Energy Alliance, a trade group of renewable energy installers. As EMNRD Secretary, she oversees the entire oil and gas regulatory mechanism in the state, as well as clean energy development and state forests and parks. She was the lead voice from the Governor’s office in the negotiations and work to pass the ETA.
For the Environment Department, the Governor recruited James Kenney from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At EPA, Kenney was one of the agency’s experts on oil and gas regulation, and the industry waste water known as “produced water” in particular. This expertise has become immediately useful as produced water begins to take a central place in the discussion around oil and gas regulation in New Mexico.
Both of these appointments indicate a strong new direction for the Governor’s administration – one that acknowledges industry roles in the state, but doesn’t flinch when it comes to holding them accountable.
Know the Score > Take Action
Say ‘thanks’ … or, ‘no thanks’!
Tell your Legislators that you ‘know the score’
One of the best ways to influence the voting records of your elected officials is to communicate regularly with them. If your legislators scored well, it’s important to thank them and to support them. If you feel you weren’t well-represented by your legislators’ votes, it’s important to hold them accountable by letting them know what you think about their votes. The Scorecard is your key to staying informed on your legislators votes and getting in touch with them.
Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators
Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.
The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.
Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts, as listed on the current Legislators page.