Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Environmental bills to view during this session

Danise Coon, a senior research specialist at the Chile Pepper Institute, views a chilli crop during the 2021 annual field day at New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Center in Los Lunas, August 2021. (Robert Browman/)

Copyright © 2022

As the New Mexico Legislature formulates spending plans for a hefty cash spree, lawmakers are pushing for bills that would ensure water, agriculture and climate initiatives get a piece of the funding pie.

Rep. Jack Chatfield, a Republican rancher from Mosquero, is co-sponsoring a $1.7 million bill to the Livestock Board to revive a state meat inspection program.

Chatfield said a lack of local inspectors is making food production “vulnerable” to closures at meat processing plants in neighboring states.

“People want to know where their food comes from,” he says. “The point here is that New Mexicans have a good, reliable supply of quality beef produced by people they know.”

Meanwhile, a bill introduced by Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, and Rep. Debra Sariñana, D-Albuquerque, would allocate $4.6 million for the newly created reforestation center.

The funding would allow the Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources to work with universities to train forest rangers, grow seedlings and replant forests.

EMNRD Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said the center will help the state “better recover from wildfires”.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has sponsored two climate bills focused on reducing emissions.

The Clean Fuel Standard Act would reduce the carbon intensity standard for petroleum and other transportation fuels. The law allows manufacturers to offset high-carbon fuels by buying credits from companies that reduce emissions or create alternatives like biodiesel and ethanol.

“I think given the size of the oil and gas industry in New Mexico, we’re likely to see very significant credit generation from that industry in particular,” said Graham Noyes, executive director of the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition.

Opponents say the bill could raise gas prices. But advocates point to crude oil prices as a key factor in the cost at the pump and say other states have failed to see a link between fuel standards and gas prices.

The Clean Future Act would require states to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – a goal first outlined in the governor’s executive order on climate change.

Other invoices include:

• $12 million to the Office of the State Engineer for Water Planning and Management

• $10 million to NMSU to operate 12 agricultural science centers

• $500,000 to the Public Education Department for an outdoor learning specialist and assistant, outdoor learning training and materials

• $400,000 for acequias and community ditches

• US$50,000 to US$60,000 to the Water Trust Fund for water storage, reuse and delivery projects

• Amendment of the Natural Heritage Protection Act to allow land acquisition

• Amending the New Mexico Constitution to add the right to a clean and healthy environment

Theresa Davis is a member of the Report for America Corps and reports on water and the environment for the .

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