1,000 signatures reached
To: NM Senators and Representatives
Protect NM Local Governments' Health/Safety Powers from State/Corporate Pre-emption
Reject any proposed NM legislation that would take away county or municipal government's right to require oil and gas drilling, mining, or big-agribusiness to meet public health and safety standards like any other industry. There are currently 3 bills that propose to take away local power. This includes State pre-emption bills, which would simply ban local government from having any rules about these industries; as well as defunding bills, which would punish, by withholding certain state funding, any local government that uses its zoning or other powers in any way that inconveniences oil or gas operators, coal, mining, or Big Ag.
Why is this important?
NM's state regulations on oil and gas date from the 1930s, and have not been updated for fracking, directional drilling, or other modern developments. They offer minimal protection of groundwater, air, and surface-owner rights. Fines have never been adjusted even for inflation, and are less than a slap on the wrist. Enforcement is chronically underfunded and politicized.
Because of these weaknesses, at least 25 NM counties and towns have found it necessary to pass health and safety protection that the State fails to safeguard.
Every year, corporate lobbyists attempt to take away the right of local self-governance, claiming that regulations hurt their profits. But the costs are real, and it is local taxpayers who bear them: for example, roads in Lea and Eddy Counties have deteriorated so badly because that they require $300 million in repairs, due to heavy oil tankers. Meanwhile fatalities are up as much as 70%, with the biggest increase being truck/auto accidents. Officers report that 90% of stops and citations involve oil tankers, their drivers pressured to beat the clock for profitability.
This is just one of the costs - both in money and lives -- that the industry expects local citizens to bear. And it is regulations aimed at making industry pay its fair share for these costs of operation that are targeted by per-emption and defunding bills.
Industry claims they pay severance tax, and that infrastructure and restoration costs should be taken out of that. But severance is a fee to the State for removing irreplaceable resources, not a license to abuse infrastructure or to pollute.
There are many equitable and fair ways to end subsidies and exemptions to an important but very profitable industry. Taking away local government authority to protect its citizens, and leaving NM with only antiquated rubberstamp State rules is neither equitable nor fair, and in fact costs the State and its counties and towns money over the long term.
from all parts of the state of New Mexico, we call on our lawmakers to reject weakening local powers in favor of Big Oil.