Posted: Jan. 23, 2018

Update: Results for bills as of the legislative session’s end on Feb. 15 are posted in bold. See our Session Wrap-up for results on other legislation that emerged during the session.

By Daniel Lorimier, Rio Grande Chapter lobbyist

The The 2018 New Mexico legislative session is in full swing, and I know you want to know about the legislation that protects or threatens our climate, water, land and wildlife.

Below is a primer on priority environmental legislation. And don’t forget that February 1 is Environment Day at the Roundhouse.

Pro-environment legislation

Solar tax credits (House Bills 36 and 87, Senate Bill 79):  These bills take slightly different approaches to restoring the tax credit for New Mexico businesses and residents who install solar on their rooftops, up to 10%. It is a proven job-creator and boosts the solar industry. Update: This bill passed! It must be signed by Gov. Martinez to become law.

Energy-storage tax credit (HB77): This bill credits up to 30% of the purchase and installation cost of qualified storage systems, up to $5,000 for residents and $75,000 for businesses. Result: Died in committee.

Funds for non-diversion Gila River projects (HB127 and SB72): These bills would earmark some of the funds currently slated for a $1 billion Gila River diversion project to go instead toward water-saving non-diversion projects in southwestern New Mexico counties. Result: these bills failed — we’ll try again next year.

Renewable energy on state buildings (SB7): Sen. Jeff Steinborn’s bill to install renewable energy on state buildings where it is economically feasible passed the Legislature with support from both parties but was vetoed by the governor.

Anti-environment legislation

Keeping Coal Plants Alive (HB72): Rep. Paul Bandy’s bill would encourage the sale of coal-fired power plants for a dollar – perhaps to generators who could continue to operate these polluting facilities after New Mexico utilities have found them uneconomical. It also excludes the Public Regulation Commission from having any say in the transfer. Result: Defeated!

Energy Redevelopment Bond (HB80):  PNM must make significant commitments to the community, ratepayers and renewable energy to make this legislation — basically a state-backed bond to cover remaining debt owed by customers to PNM after the San Juan coal plant closes — a positive investment rather than just a benefit for PNM. Result: This bill failed; perhaps next year the conditions may exist to make this legislation a winner for Four Corners communities, the climate and ratepayers as well as PNM. See PNM San Juan bonding bill needs work for more information.

Seizure of public lands (SB134):  Sen. Cliff Pirtle’s bill demands that federal public land be transferred to the state and develops a committee to make that happen. Result: Defeated!

To keep track and get action alerts, please join our legislative listserv and come to Environment Day at the Legislature on Feb. 1. Write to riogrande.chapter@sierraclub.org for more information.

Thank you for taking action and for all you do for New Mexico’s environment!

Featured image from Alpha Stock Images 

2018 Legislative Bill Tracker