Guardians head to the Roundhouse to defend water, wildlife, wild places and a better future for New Mexico

January 30, 2024

Winter in Santa Fe means snowstorms, slushy roads and, of course, nonstop action at the Roundhouse. The gavel swings through the dry desert air and BAM! The New Mexico Legislature is in session.

From now until the end of the session in mid-February, New Mexico lawmakers will mostly be wheeling and dealing over the state budget – and there could be major ramifications for our environment. We’re watching the session closely for bills that could impact New Mexico’s climate, wildlife and protected public lands. 

On the radar

One of the wildlife bills that we’re keeping an eye on is House Bill 178, which could do a lot of good for wildlife governance in the state.  Both the New Mexico Game Commission and New Mexico Department of Game and Fish have proven to be largely unresponsive to the New Mexico public and are not set up to protect all wildlife. HB 178 would go a long way towards fixing these problems and ensuring New Mexico can rely on a more modern wildlife agency to confront the biodiversity crisis and serve all New Mexicans. We support this legislation.

Gila aerial photo WildEarth GuardiansSpeaking of biodiversity, the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico is one of the most biodiverse places left on Earth. 100 years ago this June, this wild heartland that is the Gila became the country’s very first designated Wilderness. We’re working with Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Catron, Grant & Socorro-28) to introduce a memorial honoring the historical, cultural and ecological legacy of the Gila Wilderness, and committing to doing what is needed to protect the Gila for the next century and beyond.

But it wouldn’t be a legislative session in New Mexico without some seriously bad legislation on the table. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to invest half a billion dollars in a misguided Strategic Water Supply, and it’s up to us to say “No!” The Governor is asking the legislature for $500 million to fast-track the “reuse” of toxic oil and gas wastewater, the safety of which is still unproven. This greenwashing plan will incentivize more climate-killing fossil fuels and put fragile freshwater resources at risk. We’re staunchly opposed and need your help exposing this false solution for what it really is – an industry handout that harms everyone else. 

As we fight to #KeepItInTheGround, we’re putting our support behind bills that pave the way for a clean energy future for New Mexico. The Local Solar Access Fund (HB 108) is a great bill spearheaded by our allies. HB 108 would set aside money for municipalities in New Mexico to hire the technical experts they need to study, plan, and access federal funding for solar projects in their area. It’s already made it through its first committee, but we’ll need your support to see it over the finish line!

Be an advocate!

Throughout the session, Guardians’ staff are at the Capitol advocating for our priorities, but we need your help. Citizen activists are critical for pushing good policies and defeating bad ones. From showing up in-person to calling your state senator or representative to writing a letter-to-the-editor, there are many fruitful ways to be a champion for New Mexico’s wildlife, wild places, and clean energy future. Join our New Mexico legislature rapid response team to stay in the loop with the fast and furious developments in the Roundhouse and get alerted when there’s an opportunity to take action and make a difference.

About the Author

Hannah Smay | Communications Manager, WildEarth Guardians

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