This year, state lawmakers put renewed energy behind both pro- and anti-environment bills—and in the waning days of the 2013 legislative session (which ends March 16), several key measures are still wending their way through the House and Senate. SFR spoke with Rikki Seguin, a state field associate at Environment New Mexico, about some of the big environmental bills that came up.

• HB 136: Disclosure of Fracturing Fluid Composition (introduced by state Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe). New Mexico would regulate fracking, but not ban it, if this bill becomes law. Companies drilling for oil or gas would have to reveal what chemicals they put into the ground. Seguin says the bill seems “pretty fair to both the industry and to the public.” Location at press time: House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee.

•  HB 267: Utility Energy Efficiency & Load Management (Rep. James Strickler, R-San Juan). This bill “would limit the amount of energy-efficient measures that a utility can invest in,” Seguin says, by requiring that all energy-efficiency programs be “cost-effective.” Location at press time: Senate Judiciary Committee.

•  HB 286: Oil & Gas Financial Assurance (Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Bernalillo, and Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Bernalillo). “The penalties and fines that are assessed on polluters in the oil and gas industry,” according to Sequin, “haven’t been updated since 1935.” Ironically, “the fine is so low that it’s more viewed as a permit to pollute by the industry.” The bill would have imposed “appropriate fines for the modern age,” Seguin says—but it was voted down in the House.

•  HB 292/SB 404: Transfer of Public Land Act (Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Otero, Sen. Richard C Martinez, D-Los Alamos, and Sen. Pat Woods, R-Curry). This bill would have “required the federal government to give back any of the public lands they own in the state,” Seguin says; New Mexico could then sell these lands “for private development.” Location at press time (HB 292): House Health, Government & Indian Affairs Committee

• HB 458: Consolidated Environmental Review Act (Chasey). Under this bill, any state-funded or permitted project would have to first conduct an “environmental assessment” of the project’s potential environmental impact. The bill also seeks to streamline the permitting process for such projects. Location at press time: House Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

•  SB 440: Lower Rio Grande Water Rights (Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Doña Ana). This bill asks for $120 million to find more water for the southern part of the state. After reviewing the bill, state and federal water officials write: “as more time passes, and water problems increase in magnitude statewide, existing regional water plans are outdated and useless in addressing emerging water crises.” Location at press time: Senate Finance Committee.

To get involved, contact Environment New Mexico (on Twitter: @EnvNM), Conservation Voters New Mexico (@ProtectNM), the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (@NMELC) or the Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club ( @NMsierraclub).

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