A significant funding increase by Gov. would pay for a new climate change bureau, an increase in drinking water oversight, and an expanded hemp-and-cannabis agency. Michelle Lujan Grisham proposes for the state Environment Department.
The agency would see a 48.7% increase in its budget if lawmakers approve them in the 30-day session that will begin Jan. 18.
The Legislative Finance Committee recommends an increase of 6.4 percent in the budget for the agency’s 2023 fiscal year.
Lujan Grisham stated in a statement that she was proposing a larger budget to make environmental oversight a priority.
Lujan Grisham explained that his administration believes that clean air, clean waters, and clean lands are a right for every New Mexican.
She added that it is possible to strengthen and diversify the economy by cleaning up industry and taking action on climate changes and protecting public health.
- $2.5 million to support a 15-person bureau on climate change that would oversee the implementation of some laws, if passed. These include creating a new clean fuels standard, making New Mexico a hydrogen hub, and codifying the commitment of net-zero emissions by 2020. The bureau would also develop new climate policies.
- $2.4 million to ensure drinking water is free from contaminants like PFAS. (PFAS stands for perfluoroalkyl- and polyfluoroalkyl substance, a grouping potentially harmful chemicals used in a wide range of household products and industrial processes.
- 19 jobs in the Hemp and Cannabis Bureau will be paid $2.3 million
Lujan Grisham is a fierce critic of Lujan, a fossil fuel advocate who criticized the proposed funding for the Climate Change Bureau and the Clean Fuel Standard it would oversee if it was enacted into law.
The new bureaucracy will cost taxpayers more that $166,000 per employee. It will be responsible for implementing the governor’s Clean Fuel Standard Act which will increase gas prices across the state, Larry Behrens of Power the Futures Western States chapter stated in a statement. New Mexico families currently pay gas prices that are 40% higher than last year. However, the governor’s proposal would increase gas prices even further.
James Kenney, Secretary of the State Environment Department, described the proposed budget increase to be essential and called it a significant step forward.