2023 New Mexico legislative preview

By Luis Guerrero, Rio Grande Chapter legislative and political organizer

This year is a “long” 60-day New Mexico legislative session starting Jan. 17, and there will be many exciting opportunities for Sierra Club members to provide input and participate (sometimes late into the night!) in the process. Below are a few of the bills we will be advocating for or against in this legislative session:


Climate Solutions and Just Transition 

This legislation will put into law aspects of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Executive Order on Climate Change and create a comprehensive framework for addressing climate change in New Mexico. Building on the Energy Transition Act, which focuses on the electricity sector, the Climate Action Act will likely require a 50% reduction in greenhouse-gas pollution across all economic sectors by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2050. It grants broad authority to all state agencies to implement the rules necessary to achieve the reduction targets and protect against climate damage. The bill also establishes a consultation requirement for overburdened communities and Tribal nations and creates a Just Transition Office to coordinate financial resources and government programs to support economic transition of communities most impacted by fossil-fuel pollution and production. It also creates a Resiliency Office and a Climate Crisis Infrastructure Fund to address climate-related emergencies and to ensure efficient allocation of federal Inflation Reduction Act dollars for energy efficiency, methane reduction programs, environmental-justice block grants, and clean cars and trucks.

Oil and Gas Reform

Legislation will likely be introduced to reform and modernize the 1935 Oil and Gas Act to reflect the public interests at stake today. When the Oil and Gas Act was enacted more than 85 years ago, the negative aspects of oil and gas development were not yet apparent. Today, we know that oil and gas development is a major contributor to the climate crisis, creates serious health damages from air pollutants; and disproportionately harms frontline communities.

It’s long past time the act was updated to take account of all interests. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Justice and Reform Act would expand the duties and authorities of the Oil Conservation Commission and Oil Conservation Division to include protection of the environment, protection of public health, and meaningful involvement of all the public — especially communities of color, low-income communities, and tribal and indigenous communities who bear the brunt of oil and gas operations. The bill would also expand and diversify the composition of the three-member Oil Conservation Commission, charged with making statewide rules, to include two additional members appointed by the Legislature.

Climate Investment Center 

Creates legislation recognizing a statewide Climate Investment Fund (“green bank”) as an independent nonprofit organization that is an investment vehicle for sustainable energy, water, and transportation projects. The bank would be the landing spot for federal green bank funds that were established in the Inflation Reduction Act.  

Appliance Efficiency Standards 

This bill, designed to create utility bill savings for both individuals and businesses, would set minimum energy and water efficiency standards for certain household and commercial appliance products.  

Climate Tax Credits

Bills that would encourage the development of geothermal resources, home energy storage, and the purchase of EVs and charging units will be a priority this session.

Low-Income Utility Rates 

This bill will require electric and gas utilities to provide a low-income rate. The goal is to bring the average low-income user to an energy burden of 5% or less of annual income. 19 other states already offer a low-income rate.


Last year, your advocacy helped kill four bills that would have subsidized dirty fossil-fueled hydrogen production, but sadly it appears another attempt to incentivize hazardous and climate-damaging hydrogen production may appear. We hope you show up in force again to let your representatives know that this is a harmful waste of taxpayer money.


Conservation Fund 

Establishes a new conservation fund to help protect New Mexico’s communities from the threat of wildfire, flood, and drought while growing the outdoor economy in rural and urban areas. State investments must be made in the 2023 session to unlock millions of dollars in federal support. Federal Inflation Reduction Act funds cannot flow through to New Mexico without a substantial state fund or consistent conservation investment. Over $3 billion is available nationally in the IRA for forest health, wildfire resilience, river and watershed restoration, and conservation. 

Strategic Water Reserve

This bill would provide $25 million to the Strategic Water Reserve. The Reserve, created by the Legislature in 2005, is a pool of publicly held water rights dedicated to 1) ensuring New Mexico can meet commitments in our interstate river compacts and 2) assisting New Mexico in protecting threatened and endangered fish and wildlife, including habitat restoration work. The Strategic Water Reserve is an important tool that can be employed in sustaining environmental flows to our rivers to ensure sustainable and climate-resilient water systems that meet the needs of all water users. A key component of supporting these efforts is adequate and consistent funding and ensuring dedicated agency capacity for implementation.

Water Governance Reform and Climate Resiliency 

See our article on the Water Policy and Infrastructure Task Force.

Wildlife Reform Bill 

Sen. Jeff Steinborn will be sponsoring a bill to modernize the statutory language encompassing the Department of Game and Fish so that the scope of the agency’s mission is broadened to better further wildlife conservation in our challenging time of species declines.”

New Mexico Reforestation Center Act  

This bill would create the New Mexico Reforestation Center to address the impacts of climate change on the state’s forests.  


Prevent Temporary Storage of High-Level Nuclear Waste

The bill proposes to ban the storage or disposal of high-level nuclear waste in New Mexico, unless preempted by federal law, just as Texas, Oregon and other states have done.

See article, Page 10.

Environmental Rights (Green) Constitutional Amendment  

This proposed amendment to the New Mexico Constitution adds a new section to the Bill of Rights recognizing a healthy environment as an inherent and generational right of New Mexicans. If passed by the Legislature and approved by voters, government officials would be required to prioritize environmental protection when advancing energy policy, considering development, and crafting and implementing legislation and regulations. 

Plastic Pollution-Reduction Act 

This bill addresses single-use disposable plastics, which break down and contaminate New Mexico’s land and water. It would end distribution of single-use plastic bags at point of sale with a 10-cent fee for paper bags as a funding mechanism for local communities to support recycling and education.  


Reform of New Mexico Legislature  

A proposed amendment to the 1912 New Mexico Constitution. Increase the duration of legislative sessions from today’s alternating 30-day and 60-day sessions to 60-day sessions each year and an option for a 10-day extension, with a goal of improved quality and efficiency by allowing additional time to propose, address and  improve legislation. It would provide a salary for legislators, increasing the opportunity for all New Mexicans to become legislators and expanding the diversity of those elected. It authorizes year-long and permanent staff for each legislator. Outside of the sessions, staff could provide greater services, support and availability to constituents. 

Voting Rights

New Mexico, thanks to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, continues to increase access to voting. Although comprehensive voting reforms didn’t pass last session, legislation will return this session. 

Want to get involved? Contact us at camilla.feibelman@sierraclub.org or luis.guerrero@sierraclub.org to join our grassroots lobbying team and find out about opportunities to participate online, in person and by contacting your representatives! 

2023 New Mexico legislative preview