Legislative Update on a Really Bad Bill

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One of the most bizarre interviews in New Mexico legislative history occurred yesterday on Taos radio station KVOT, Breakfast with Nancy. Longtime radio DJ Nancy Stapp interviewed Carlos Cisneros, D-Taos County, who sponsored Senate Bill 463, which would preclude efforts by county and municipal governments to regulate any aspect of the oil and gas industry. It would amend the state law on county and municipal zoning jurisdiction, Section 3-21-2, to provide that the authority of county and municipal zoning authorities is expressly preempted from regulating the “exploration, development, production and transportation of oil and gas and any associated remediation and reclamation activities related thereto.” That wording doesn’t appear until the last paragraph on the last page of a bill titled RELATING TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT; AMENDING A SECTION OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE TO PROVIDE FOR PRESUMPTIVE STATE PREEMPTION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT BY STATE LEGISLATION REGULATING AN ACTIVITY OR UNDERTAKING.

As you can imagine, the outcry against this bill was immediate and enormous, especially from northern New Mexico counties like San Miguel, Rio Arriba, Mora, and Taos, Cisneros’s own county, that have been grappling with this issue for the last several years. They have been working to draft new regulations or add amendments to those currently on the books, promulgated long before the new fracking method now used to extract natural gas.

Stapp first interviews Pat Leahan, with the Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center, in San Miguel County, who lays out the issues counties face as the oil and gas industry intensifies efforts to secure leases with landowners for exploration drilling on their property. Ninety minutes later Stapp interviews Senator Cisneros, who states his bill is “dead in the water” and the only reason he introduced it was to raise everyone’s awareness that someone else is probably going to introduce a bill like his bill and maybe next time it won’t be “dead in the water.” You have to hear it to believe it: http://1340kvot.com.

To add insult to injury, a group of legislators wrote a letter to Governor Martinez that requests she deny capital outlay funding to those counties and municipalities “that have voluntarily restricted the extractive industries.” In the immortal words of Kurt Vonnegut, So it goes.

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