While the Oil Conservation Division (OCD) administrative penalties bill, Senate Bill 186, did not pass, the administrative penalties provision at the heart of the bill was incorporated into another bill, House Bill 546. House Bill 546 was initially a bill designed to clearly assign liability and rulemaking authority around the disposition and treatment of water produced by the oil and natural gas industry. CVNM didn’t have a position on House Bill 546 initially due to our lack of familiarity with the issue of what is known as “produced water” treatment and disposal. That neutral stance continued after the substance of Senate Bill 186 was amended into House Bill 546. We’ll continue to communicate with members as we learn more about (and eventually develop a position on) oil and gas wastewater.
Senate Bill 462 included the creation of a new Outdoor Equity Fund, designed to develop opportunities for low income young people across New Mexico. This fund is not only unique, it’s a critical piece to ensure that the Outdoor Recreation Division is more than just a recreational tool, but a truly transformational tool to define and establish the way that New Mexicans engage with our public lands.
The new legislature featured leadership on conservation from familiar and established champions like Senator Mimi Stewart and Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero, and also saw the emergence of younger conservation and climate leaders. Second term Representatives like Nathan Small and Angelica Rubio proved themselves able sponsors and coalition builders around key pieces of pro-conservation legislation like the Energy Transition Act (Senate Bill 489) and the Outdoor Recreation Division bill (Senate Bill 462). Additionally, the freshman class in the House demonstrated tremendous knowledge and expertise on environmental and climate issues with Representatives like Melanie Stansbury and Abbas Akhil showing immediate willingness to develop and introduce bold legislation on water and energy policy.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham came out of the gate with a bold legislative agenda spanning a broad number of policy areas. The pacing and feel of the work in the State Capitol were immediately different in 2019 compared to years past. Gone were the early weeks of sluggish pacing. Cabinet secretaries and staff were active in the hallways and hearing rooms pushing key legislative pieces, and many committees began meeting on weekends almost immediately. The energy and vision that Governor Lujan Grisham campaigned on translated into the 2019 legislative session in an immediately noticeable way.
Keep an eye out for the follow-ups for key legislative pieces. Many of the legislative successes of the 2019 session will require further rulemakings and administrative follow through. The Public Regulation Commission (PRC) will oversee clean energy procurement plans and coal plant retirement proceedings as a result of the passage of the Energy Transition Act. The Oil Conservation Commission within OCD will promulgate rules to implement the administrative penalty authority that it gained in House Bill 546. The Secretary of Economic Development will appoint a new Outdoor Recreation Division Director. The bills that we pass in the legislature are only as good how they’re put to work. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the execution of these new policies on the ground.
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.