Gwynne Ann Unruh is an award-winning reporter formerly of the Alamosa Valley Courier, an independent paper in southern Colorado. She covers the environment for The Paper.

New Mexico’s on its game as the Environmental Protection Agency rolled back another climate rule eight days before Trump’s exit. By creating its own regulations for emission standards for the oil and natural gas industry, New Mexico is assuring the revolving or slamming of the White House doors will not hold the state hostage to federal regulations. Under the Trump administration, the EPA rolled back or weakened over 100 federal environmental rules and policies. By shifting emission numbers around, the newest EPA rule avoids future regulation of greenhouse emissions for the oil and natural gas industry. Time will tell if the Biden administration leaves the rule in place.

An upcoming piece of legislation being drafted, the Climate Resilience and Security Bill, creates a general statutory framework for New Mexico to do its part as a leader in climate change. The bill would institutionalize the legacy of the work that has already been done on climate change, ensuring it continues after Governor Lujan Grisham’s administration is gone. Representative Melanie A. Stansbury (D-Bernalillo), a co-sponsor of the bill, told The Paper. the bill is an all-encompassing and comprehensive approach to climate change.

The bill mirrors Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order, signed in 2019, by setting an overall carbon target so New Mexico can transition toward a net zero carbon economy by 2050. “The bill creates a statute, a durable comprehensive framework for addressing New Mexico’s contributions to climate change after this administration is gone and helps prepare our communities for the impacts of climate change on our economy and workforce needs,” Stansbury explained. “Virtually every environmental organization across the state helped contribute to the ideas and concepts that are in the bill. I think New Mexico will be one of the most progressive climate action zones in the country because of all of the elements it incorporates into one piece of legislation,” Stansbury said.

The bill requires consultation and collaboration with tribes and disproportionately impacted communities. Stansbury said Representative Angelica Rubio (D-Doña Ana) has been doing a lot of the work for the bill with coalitions, talking to communities, gathering information, meeting with community organizations and finding out what are their priorities for economic and workforce development. Senator Carrie Hamblen (D-Las Cruces), who also worked on the bill with Stansbury, told The Paper., “It’s critical that, when we take an aggressive approach to addressing climate change and acknowledge the negative impacts to our environment, we must work with tribes and those communities that have been the most ignored in creating environmental legislation. It is the right of every New Mexican to have clean air and water, and it is our responsibility as legislators to do what we can to ensure our environment is clean now and for future generations.”

Hamblen said she has been really grateful to be able to work with Representative Stansbury on the legislation. “Her expertise in water and environmental issues is some of the best in the legislature, and to welcome my experience with public lands, economic development and environmental issues is really an honor. I look forward to our combined efforts having a significant impact on how we address climate change in our state.”

The Climate Resilience and Security Bill will be filed within two weeks. “Everyone has to do their part to help climate change and create a better future for the state,” Stansbury said.

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Gwynne Ann Unruh is an award-winning reporter formerly of the Alamosa Valley Courier, an independent paper in southern Colorado. She covers the environment for The Paper.