Copyright 2022 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico’s legislature is creating spending plans for a substantial budget surplus. Legislators are pushing bills to ensure that climate, water and agriculture initiatives get a share of the funding pie.
Rep. Jack Chatfield, a Mosquero Republican rancher, is co-sponsoring legislation to revive a state meat inspector program. He has a $1.7million appropriation to the livestock inspect board.
Chatfield said a lack of local inspectors “leaves food production vulnerable” to shutdowns at corporate meat-processing facilities in neighboring states.
“People want to know where their food comes from,” he said. “This is about New Mexicans having a good, reliable supply of quality beef produced by people that you know.”
In the meantime, a bill was introduced by Sen. Pat Woods (R.Broadview) as well as Rep. Debra Saraia (D.Albuquerque), which would give $4.6 Million to the newly formed Reforestation Center.
The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department would be able to work with universities to train foresters, to plant seedlings, and to replant forests.
EMNRD Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said the center will help the state “recover better from forest fires.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham backed climate bills that reduce emissions.
Clean Fuel Standard Act would lower the carbon intensity standard for petroleum and other transport fuels. Producers can purchase credits from companies that create or reduce carbon emissions to offset high-carbon fuels like biodiesel or ethanol.
“I think, given the scale of the oil and gas industry in New Mexico, we’re likely to see very substantial credit generation coming out of that industry in particular,” said Graham Noyes, executive director of the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition.
Opponents fear that the bill will raise gas prices. Supporters point to crude oil prices as the main factor in pump costs. Other states have not observed a correlation between fuel standards, gas prices and other states.
The Clean Future Act would mandate state greenhouse gas levels be at net-zero emissions by 2050 a goal first outlined in the governor’s executive order on climate change.
Other bills include the following:
$12 million to the Office of the State Engineer in water planning administration
$10 million to NMSU in order to operate 12 agricultural science centres
$500,000 to the Public Education Department to hire an outdoor learning specialist and assistant, and provide outdoor learning training and materials.
$400,000 for acequias, community ditches and other items
Water Trust Fund: $50,000 to $60,000 for water storage, reuse, and delivery projects
Amendment of the Natural Heritage Conservation Act to allow land acquisitions
Amendment to the New Mexico Constitution to include the right for a clean and healthy environment
Theresa Davis, a Report for America corps member, covers water and the environment for Albuquerque Journal.