UPDATE: Every one of these bills died in the House or Senate before the session ended. Thank you for your activism! This type of legislation will almost surely be back, so please check back during the 2016 session.
Numerous counties and cities around New Mexico, prompted by citizens’ recognition that state oil and gas rules don’t provide adequate protection, have created local rules and ordinances aimed at protecting against negative impacts of oil and gas drilling.
But Big Oil and Gas, which has enormous power in the New Mexico Legislature, opposes many of those safeguards. That’s why at least five bills introduced in the 2015 New Mexico legislative session seek to give the state the power to preempt all local ordinances – invalidating hundreds of protections by local communities.
These bills would give the political appointees at the Oil Conservation Division total power and remove rules addressing local conditions entirely. The Oil Conservation Division’s enforcement varies by administration, and its actions during this administration have shown it to be completely subservient to the industries it is supposed to be regulating.
If even one of these bills passes, every county or city with any oil or gas zoning ordinances would lose those protections.
There would be no limits on where oil or gas wells could be located, no setbacks from homes, no limits on vegetation and soil destruction for pads and roads, no impact fees for damage to infrastructure, and no incentive for rational clustering of wells to minimize surface impact. The state Oil Conservation Division’s rules do not cover any such matters.
You can do three important things that really do make a difference. All three if possible, but even one is important:
2. Call your senator and representative. Just tell the person who answers the phone that you oppose HB199, HB366, SB601 and all bills that preempt local oil and gas rules.
Senate: Call 505-986 and the extension listed here for your senator:http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/lcsdocs/SenatorOfficeAndPhone.pdf
House: 505-986- and the extension listed here for your legislator:www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/lcsdocs/RepresentativeOfficeAndPhone.pdf
3. Attend committee hearings for these bills and stand up to say you oppose them. Below are the bills. We will update this page daily to let you know when they will be heard in committee or on the floor.
Sponsor: Rep. Paul Bandy (R-San Juan)
This bill prevents counties from adopting ordinances that restrict oil and gas activities.
Sponsor: Rep. Nate Gentry (R-Bernalillo)
This bill asserts that the Oil Conservation Commission and Oil Conservation Division hold exclusive jurisdiction and authority over all matters relating to oil and gas operations. It therefore destroys regulations on oil and gas drilling already adopted by cities or counties. PASSED BY HOUSE. On to Senate.
HB 573, Severance Tax Distribution to Some Counties Sponsor: Rep. Sharon Clachischilliage (R-San Juan)
This is a modified preemption bid for counties where gas and oil are extracted. It gives those counties an extra reward of 1% of the severance tax paid from that county directly to them before severance tax bond money is distributed to all counties for their road work. It therefore disadvantages counties that have adopted regulations to protect against the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling.
SB184 – No Severance Tax Bond Projects in Certain Counties Sponsor: Sen. Bill Sharer (R-San Juan)
With this bill, counties that have passed ordinances making oil and gas exploration and development more difficult or expensive by 25%, would not be granted Severance Tax Bond funds for projects in those counties. Tabled by Senate Conservation Committee! Thank you for contacting your senators!.SB601: Oil Conservation Rules Apply to all Counties
Sponsor – Sen. Ron Griggs (R-Dona Ana, Eddy, Otero)
Yet another version of preemption of counties’ rights, requiring Oil Conservation Commission and Oil Conservation Division rules to apply uniformly to all counties. Numerous counties and cities around New Mexico, prompted by citizens who wanted to protect their land and water from nearby drilling, have created rules and ordinances aimed at protecting against negative impacts of oil and gas drilling. This bill was tabled in the Senate Conservation Committee on March 10! Thank you for contacting your senators!