SIERRA CLUB News:
- Renewing solar credits, stopping killing contests, trapping …
SANTA FE — Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter volunteers and staff are advocating for and against dozens of bills at the Roundhouse during the 2015 New Mexico legislative session.
“With new leadership in the House of Representatives, we expect corporate lobbyists to have a much greater influence, and therefore we expect many more bills that threaten New Mexicans’ health, air, water and climate, as well as the state’s wildlife and public lands,” Chapter Conservation Coordinator Dan Lorimier said.
Chapter’s top priorities:
- HB70 – Residential solar tax credit
Sponsor – Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton
This bill renews the tax credit for residential solar projects through 2020. The credit, which has been very successful in stimulating economic development and jobs in New Mexico and allowing the needed transition to renewable energy, would end in 2016 without this change.
Renewing tax credit for utility-scale renewable energy: This New Mexico tax credit will expire unless renewed during this session. Because of more severe restrictions on how much utilities are allowed to spend on meeting state requirements for renewables, allowing this credit to expire could cause development of renewable energy to come to a standstill in New Mexico and would endanger jobs across the state.
- HB40 – Electric Vehicle Income Tax Credit
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Trujillo
This bill creates an income-tax credit for New Mexico residents who buy or lease electric vehicles or EV charging stations. This will expand access to this highly efficient transportation option in New Mexico. Sen. Carlos Cisneros is carrying the identical bill SB9 in the Senate.
- HB111 – Providing for Shared Renewable Energy Facilities to Qualify as Distributed Generation Facilities
Sponsor – Rep. Roberto “Bobby” J. Gonzales
This legislation would encourage distributed generation and “community solar” developments, which strengthen the reliability of our distribution systems and allow communities to create their own energy and speed the transition to renewable energy.
- SB253 Prohibit and define coyote-killing contest
Sponsors: Reps. Jeff Steinborn and Mark Moores
Bipartisan legislation is being introduced to ban coyote-killing contests, in which participants get a prize for killing the most coyotes, the largest and sometimes the smallest coyote. The bill expressly continues to allow all other hunting of coyotes.
Stop cruel trapping on public lands: There are no limits on the number of animals that trappers are allowed to kill during the March-November trapping season. The chapter will support legislation to ban traps on public lands, where they are allowed close to public walkways and often ensnare and injure pets and people.
Bills making it easier to pollute water: We will oppose attacks on the New Mexico Water Quality Act that would allow dairies to pollute our groundwater. These attacks would serve as a complement to the multimillion-dollar industry’s efforts to subvert existing (but unenforced) groundwater-protection regulations.
Bills outlawing dairy whistleblowers: “Ag gag” legislation has been introduced in the last several sessions that would put New Mexico industrial agricultural operations (dairies, feedlots, processing plants) outside the law that allows whistle-blowers to report law-breaking through video or sound recordings.
Legislation allowing public lands to be sold off: Efforts to seize public lands from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (who together administer and protect more than 40 percent of our state) for the state, which could then exploit the natural resources and sell the lands into private ownership, have popped up in the last several sessions are are likely to resurface this year.
Other legislation the chapter supports in its current form:
- HB12 – Water Budget Rate Structures
Sponsor – Rep. Bill McCamley
In order to take a more responsible approach to the state’s water needs and to reduce water waste at the municipal and residential level, this bill attempts to apply water budgeting to rate structures. While water budgeting is critical to living in the reality of the arid Southwest, the few paragraphs of new language in this bill are very generally described and we should expect to see changes that might be refinements or attempts to eviscerate the intent of HB12.
- HB33 – Pipeline Safety Act Civil Penalties
Sponsor – Rep. Bill McCamley
This bill amends the Pipeline Safety Act to change the maximum fine for pipeline safety infractions from $25,000 a day with a $500,000 maximum to “the amount established in applicable federal law or regulation, as determined by the commission.”
- HB38 – Forest and Watershed Restoration Act
Sponsors – Rep. Paul Bandy and Sen. Peter Wirth
This bill provides long-term funding for forest and watershed restoration using the Insurance Department Suspense Fund.
- HB64 – Home Energy and Water Efficiency Tax Credit
Sponsor – Rep. Carl Trujillo
This bill offers residents tax credits for improving energy and indoor water efficiency in existing residences.
- HB98— Game and Fish Annual Report
Sponsor – Rep. Jimmy Hall
This legislation would require the Game and Fish Department to report to the Legislature wildlife population, number of licences sold the previous year and anticipated for the next five years, range conditions and needs, etc. More exposure to the public and the Legislature on planning, inventories and outcomes is badly needed.
HB113 – Energy-Efficient Homes Tax Credit
Sponsor – Rep. Brian Egolf Jr.
Purchasers of energy-efficient homes, or those who purchase a foreclosed home that has been renovated to high-efficiency standards, are eligible for a tax credit between $4,000 and $8,000. This credit is only available between July 1, 2015, and June 31, 2018.
- HM1 – EMNRD Website Oil and Gas
Sponsor – Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero
The Memorial asks the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources department to post much more explicit information regarding oil and gas operations impacting groundwater in New Mexico. The industry does not want this information accessible by the public.
- SB73 – Landowner Taking or Killing Animals on Land
Sponsor – Sen. Bill Soules
This bill, in response to several years of landowners killing deer, elk, antelope, etc., that pasture on their fields, makes those slaughters (sometimes done in protest to Game & Fish Department attempts to mitigate such damage) much more difficult to carry out. It requires more review and attempts at mitigation by the landowner and the Department before killing is allowed.
- SB110 – Residential Energy Conservation Programs
Sponsor – Sen. Richard Martinez
This bill gives $1 million from the General Fund to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority for low-income residential energy-efficiency improvements. The bill is endorsed by the Mortgage Finance Authority Act Oversight Committee.