Key environment-related bills on tap this week

Lots of key bills, both positive and dangerous, will be heard tomorrow at the New Mexico Legislature. This is a great day to take action by calling or writing legislators, and tomorrow is a great day to be at the Roundhouse if you can. 

Click here for contact info for key Senate and House committees. Feeling shy about calling? It’s easy: When you call a legislator’s office, just tell the person who answers the phone that you urge Sen. or Rep. X to vote “no”/”yes” on SB XX or HB XX, and give a brief title for the bill (“Trapping ban on public lands,” etc.). You don’t need to make an argument or explanation. If you don’t want to call, emailing is a better opportunity to make a longer appeal for a bill. Make sure to note if you are a constituent — constituents’ calls are especially valuable. But when bills are in committee, we can call all committee members, whether we are constituents or not.

THIS AFTERNOON in Senate Corporations Committee (the meeting hasn’t started yet as of 3:30 p.m., so there’s still time to call/write):

SB215, the PACE bill that will make solar and energy-efficiency improvements more affordable and accessible for homeowners, is up today. PLEASE call or email all the Corporations senators right now and ask them to please vote “yes” on SB215, financing for renewable-energy home improvements. Last-minute scheduling — sorry for short notice!

TOMORROW in Senate Conservation Committee (8:30 a.m. Tuesday, in Room 311 of the Roundhouse):

Top three bills here are big; please call committee senators about all of them

SB286, Banning trapping and poison on public lands
Support: This bill’s chances have never been better, starting in the Senate this year with a new sponsor, Sen. Pete Campos. It has never been debated either in Senate Committee or on the Senate Floor.

SB307, imposing fines and penalties for oil and gas safety violations
Support: Despite hundreds of violations, New Mexico oil and gas companies have not paid a cent in penalties since 2010. From 2007 through 2009, New Mexico collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties per year from the oil and gas industry. In 2009, however, an oil and gas company won a court case that effectively stopped New Mexico from collecting penalties for rule violations. Senate Bill 307 would restore the authority of Oil Conservation Division to fine oil and gas operators and would also increase penalties, which haven’t been updated since 1935.

SB342: Community Solar Gardens
Support: This bill sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez allows community solar gardens and requires public utilities to connect these projects even if owned by a third party.  Community solar gives access to solar energy to many lower-income New Mexicans and those who can’t put it on their rooftops.

SB267, Protection of fur-bearing animals and coyotes
Sponsor: Senator Jeff Steinborn (D)
Support: Currently, coyotes have no protection at all under the law; they can be killed in any number and at any time for any reason. This bill adds coyotes to list of fur-bearers under management of the Department of Game and Fish. It also amends language from the declaration of policy stating the fur of fur-bearing animals “shall not be wasted or depleted” to instead state fur-bearers shall be protected.

SB364, Land Commissioner Review of National Monuments
Sponsor: Senator Stewart Ingle (R)
Oppose: This is a right-wing “claw-back” bill that attempts to insert the state into the National Monuments process.  The state governor, land commissioner and attorney general would have to approval all national monuments as including “the smallest area necessary for proper care and management.”

Scheduled for 1:30 p.m. TOMORROW Tuesday, in House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee:

Urgent: Please call or write all the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources representatives and ask them to vote “No” on HB382 and HB406. HB406 in particular would effectively end our renewable requirement of 20% by 2020 because PNM and EPE already get more than 20% of their energy from nuclear. This vote will be very close.

HB406, Including nuclear energy as “renewable energy” in Renewable Energy Act
This bill would add “nuclear: to the definition of “renewables” in New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Act, which requires 20 percent renewable energy by 2020 and which we are hoping to amend to reach 50% renewables by 2030 and 80% by 2040. Because more than 20% of PNM’s and El Paso Electric’s electricity already comes from nuclear, HB406 would immediately effectively end the renewable requirements for PNM and EPE, preventing more actual renewable energy from being built for decades.

HB382, Federal mineral-lease payments to oil and gas counties
Oppose: This bill would divert Federal Mineral Lease payments of around $500,000 a year from the General Fund and redirects those dollars to oil- and gas-producing counties like San Juan, Lea, Eddy etc.

HB440, Tax credits for renewable-energy production

Support: This re-ups the Production Tax Credit for renewable-generating facilities that expired in 2016.

Results on priority legislation from last week:

Sadly, SB210, PNM’s wolf-in-sheep’s clothing bill that purports to protect consumers but is really an effort to undermine solar-installation businesses, which compete with PNM, was passed 34-7 by the Senate on Monday, Feb. 20. PNM has been lobbying for this bill for more than a year. But this legislation can still be stopped in the House. Please call or write all members of the House Judiciary Committee and ask them to kill HB199, the House companion to SB210. Tell them New Mexicans want accessible solar energy, not cumbersome regulation for one of New Mexico’s few job-growth industries.

SB157, Interstate Stream Commission reform
Support: This bill requires qualified members (a civil engineer a hydrologist, etc.) for the state Interstate Stream Commission and would split appointees between the governor and the Legislative Council Service, with Senate consent. This is the commission that approved the Gila River diversion, a billion-dollar boondoggle that more qualified members could see the flaws in. Passed Senate Conservation Committee on Tuesday.

SB226, Efficient utility water use
Support: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, would add efficient water use in power generation to the existing Efficient Use Of Energy Act.  Utilities already must periodically submit Resource Management Plans to the Public Regulations Commission. This bill would simply add water efficiency to the list of considerations in those IRMPs. Passed Senate Conservation Committee on Tuesday.

SB227, State facility renewable bill
Support: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Steinborn, would enact a new section to the requirements of the General Services Department to develop and adopt rules to analyze and implement energy-efficiency and renewable-energy improvements for State facilities. Finally! Solar panels on the Roundhouse (and all other state buildings where it can save money). Passed Senate Conservation Committee on Tuesday.

SB266, Change Game Commission mission
Support: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Steinborn, would give authority to the state Game Commission has authority to protect all species of wildlife, including protected game species, furbearers and non-game species. Right now it focuses strictly on game, to the detriment of many other species.   Tabled in SCONC on Thursday.

SB268, Prohibit coyote-killing contests
Support: Passed Senate Conservation Committee on Thursday. It still has to pass the Judiciary and Finance committees before it can get a full Senate vote. Please call or write the senators on those committees with your support!

HB193 – Permanent solar tax credit
Support: This is the solar tax credit bill NM actually deserves.  This would go a long way toward moving NM into the renewable energy leader status we should and can be in. While any new tax credits are somewhat unlikely, HB193 will help cast a more positive light on the other, already bargained down and therefore more passable, solar tax credit bills.  HB193 got a Do Not Pass (tabled) in HBIC this week.

HB275, Public Private Partnerships (allowing private entities to run and maintain water utilities and other public services)
Sponsors – Representative Larry Laranaga (R) and Senator Carlos Cisneros (D)
Oppose: This bill allows counties and towns to enter into long-term partnerships with privately owned businesses and encourages expanding this relationship in New Mexico. Especially at risk is the privatization of NM’s water systems. Passed House Transportation and Public Works Committee on Thursday. Its next stop is House Labor Committee. We need to stop this bill. Please contact the House Labor Committee representatives and urge them to please vote “No” on HB275, Public Private Partnerships.

SJM20, Support for Standing Rock Sioux
Sponsors: Senators John Pinto (D) and Benny Shendo Jr. (D)
Support: This memorial gives the full support of New Mexico’s 23 nations, tribes and pueblos to the Standing Rock Sioux. Very good whereases that deserve our support.  Passed Senate Rules Committee on Friday; next it goes to Indian Affairs and Rules committees.


Key environment-related bills on tap this week