2019 Year in Review


✔ Joined by Global Warming Express kids, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signs a Climate Executive Order requiring robust rules to reduce oil and gas methane pollution; a 45% reduction in statewide greenhouse emissions from 2005 levels by 2030; directing a Climate Change Task Force to develop a state climate strategy; ordering state agencies to evaluate climate impacts and integrate mitigation tactics; and ordering development of legislation to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard and energy-efficiency standards.


✔ Representatives of a small mining company called Comexico meet with Santa Fe National Forest officials to discuss their proposal to explore for precious metals in the Upper Pecos Watershed. The project area is on Jones Hill close to the Superfund site of the old Terrero Mine in Pecos Canyon.

✔ The Energy Transition Act is introduced in the New Mexico Senate by Sens. Jacob Candelaria and Mimi Stewart. The bill raises the state’s renewable-electricity requirement to 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040 and 100% carbon-free by 2045 and  authorizes low-rate financing to ease costs of coal retirement for utilities and ratepayers and fund transition support for workers and communities.

✔ Public-lands package championed by Sen. Martin Heinrich passes Congress, establishing 13 new wilderness areas in New Mexico and permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.


Energy Transition Act is signed into law by Gov. Lujan Grisham.

✔ Other victories for land, wildife and the climate from the legislative session include:

The EV Infrastructure Act passes, clearing the way for companies to install EV-charging stations across New Mexico.

Energy Efficiency Act becomes law, removing disincentives for utilities to invest in energy efficiency, the cheapest and most effective way to reduce carbon pollution.

Outdoor Recreation Act creates an Office of Outdoor Recreation and Outdoor Equity Fund.


✔ Gov. Lujan Grisham signs into law a ban on coyote-killing contests.

✔ Members of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, including U.S. Rep. Deb Halaand and Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján, tour oil and gas sites in Greater Chaco and Chaco Park and hold a hearing at the Roundhouse on oil and gas impacts to sacred sites and air quality in New Mexico.

✔ Albuquerque City Council goes bag-free. Councilors banned distribution of single-use plastic bags starting in January 2020.

✔ Gov. Lujan Grisham vetoes $1.698 million for planning and design of the Gila River diversion, sending a signal that the Gila will stay wild.

✔ The American Lung Association’s State of the Lung Report gives San Juan County an F on ozone, which escapes with methane and is a major contributing factor to respiratory disease.

✔ The Doña Ana County Commission prohibits use of the county funds to pay the federal Wildlife Services agency for lethal removal of wildlife. Wildlife Services, a euphemistically named agency whose main purpose is killing wildlife, often using cruel means, goes on a campaign to reverse the vote.


✔ After years of effort to save prime land adjoining El Paso’s Franklin Mountains State Park from development, voters overwhelmingly reject taxpayer-funded development around the Lost Dog Trail, a favorite of local outdoors enthusiasts. Americas High School Sierra Student Coalition members, as well as Sierra Club El Paso Group volunteers, campaigned for the protection, which won with a whopping 89% of the vote.

✔ U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette introduces the Methane Waste and Prevention Act to reduce methane waste and pollution from oil and gas operations on public lands. U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland are co-sponsors of the bill.

✔ The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denies all requests by Sierra Club and other petitioners to conduct a hearing challenging Holtec International’s application to construct an interim storage facility for high-level nuclear waste in Lea County.


✔ After impassioned testimony from Global Warming Express students, Bernalillo County Commission bans distribution of single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam (polystyrene) containers in unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County outside Albuquerque.

✔ The Chaco Coalition sponsors a 50-mile Chaco Awareness run led by indigenous youth from Bureau of Land Management offices in Albuquerque to the agency’s Santa Fe headquarters to bring awareness to continued drilling in the Greater Chaco region.

✔ Grant County Commission amends its contract with Wildlife Services to prohibit the use of leg-hold traps and cyanide bombs.

✔ The U.S. House passes an appropriations package that includes language secured by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan imposing a one-year spending limitation on new oil and gas drilling and leasing within a 10-mile radius of Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

✔ Gov. Lujan Grisham announces stakeholder meetings to precede a state rulemaking reducing methane pollution from oil and gas drilling.

✔ U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva file an amicus brief challenging the Trump Interior Department’s decision to effectively reverse the BLM’s Methane and Waste Prevention rule.

✔ San Miguel County Commission passes a resolution opposing Terrero Mine.

✔ In response to a Sierra Club/Southern Border Communities Coalition lawsuit, a U.S. District Court judge blocks the Trump Administration from using $2.5 billion in counter-drug, military pay and pensions funds to construct border walls in Arizona, New Mexico and California. Several Sierra Club Southern New Mexico members are standing declarants in the suit.

✔ New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham sends a letter to the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission opposing an “interim” storage facility for high-level nuclear waste in New Mexico.


✔ Just two weeks after a vote to prohibit Wildlife Services from using cruel leg-hold traps and cyanide bombs to remove wildlife, Grant County commissioners, under pressure from the federal agency, repeals its pro-wildlife amendment.

✔ PNM files application to retire San Juan coal plant and use Energy Transition Act bonds to pay off debt. The Public Regulation Commission files the financing portion of the case under a docket that it created before the legislative session (that was then stayed by the state Supreme Court during the session), suggesting commissioners may not want to apply the new law to the case.

✔ Doña Ana County waters down its decision to prohibit payment to Wildife Services for killing wildlife, allowing lethal action but only after nonlethal methods are attempted.

✔ Supreme Court allows the Trump Administration to, for now, use diverted counter-drug funds to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico borderwhile a Sierra Club/ACLU lawsuit goes through the appeals process. A district court had blocked wall construction using the diverted counter-drug funds.

✔ Newly appointed Game Commission proposes to bar sport trapping of cougars but also to leave dangerously high bear-killing quotas.

✔ Proponents of a plan to divert the Gila River were given a dose of reality when an Environmental Impact Statement revealed that the project will cost too much and yield too little water.


✔ U.S. Forest Service announces a 90-day public comment period on draft management plans for the Cibola, Carson, and Santa Fe National forests. The plans have not been updated in over 30 years. New Mexicans attend Forest Service open houses and comment on the draft plans, encouraging more wilderness designations.

✔ Doña Ana County caves to federal Wildlife Services agency, watering down even further its requirement to try non-lethal means before the agency is allowed to kill wildlife.


✔ Thousands turn out at strikes across New Mexico on Sept. 20 to demand climate action, many led by our Global Warming Express and Sierra Student Coalition students.

✔ Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announces that New Mexico will join 14 other states in adopting clean-car standards requiring new cars sold here to emit fewer greenhouse gases and mandate an increasing percentage of cars have zero emissions.

✔ Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signs Executive Instruction to electrify the city’s fleet of cars.


✔ Chaco Heritage Protection Act passes in the U.S. House with bipartisan support 245-174.

✔ Inaugural Rio Grande Chapter Military Outdoors outing in the Four Corners held on Oct. 18-19.

✔ State announces public meetings to discuss regulations on reuse of fracking wastewater.

✔ Sierra Club and coalition partners submit comments from in support of expanding wilderness in Cibola, Carson, and Santa Fe National forests.


✔ Sierra Club-endorsed candidates win 9 of 11 municipal races and a key spot on the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District.

✔ Thousands of New Mexicans and more than 60 elected officials submit comments opposing Trump administration’s plan to gut EPA methane safeguards.


✔ Department of the Interior denies extension of funding deadline for proposed Gila River diversion.

✔ A federal court rules in the Sierra Club lawsuit that President Trump’s diversion of $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the border wall is unlawful.

2019 Year in Review