New Mexico Law Strengthens State Environmental Policy

A bill New Mexico Democrats pushed as allowing for greater state control of environmental regulations was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham following the 2021 Legislative Session.

Senate Bill 8 allowed the State to set environmental standards “more stringent” than federal law, a change from how the law is currently written to allow state regulations by “no more stringent” than policies enacted at the federal level.

It passed the New Mexico Senate on a 23-15 vote and later the House of Representatives 39-29 before being signed into law on April 8.

The move was in response to multiple rollbacks of federal environmental policy under the past administration of former-President Donald Trump who pushed an “American energy dominance” agenda by lifting federal regulations on emissions of methane and other pollutants from oil and gas operations and sought to shrink national parks and open more land to drilling.

“This legislation allows the state to make sure our environmental laws are the best they can be for New Mexico,” she said. “We’ve seen the devastating effects of a federal administration that does not prioritize public health and the environment – now, New Mexico is in the driver’s seat.”

Other recently signed environmental legislation was SB 112 to establish the Sustainable Economy Task Force which would study ways to diversify New Mexico’s economy beyond its reliance on oil and gas, along with the SB 84 the Community Solar Act to widen access to solar power.

House Bill 76 was also signed to allow the Environmental Improvement Board to deny air quality permits to businesses like oil and gas operators with a history of non-compliance with environmental requirements.

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