A proposed amendment that would make a clean and healthy environment a constitutional right for New Mexicans is gaining ground among some lawmakers and various advocates.
New Mexico’s Green Amendment has 23 co-sponsors, up from four who supported the proposal when it was introduced in the 2021 legislative session, but failed to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It also garnered the support of 40 organizations, including environmental, religious, indigenous and community groups. The growing momentum is expected to push it through the 30-day legislative session in January and increase the odds of passing, said State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, one of the co-sponsors of the last session.
âMore people know that,â Sedillo Lopez said. âMore and more legislators understand it and know its importance. “
The proposal would embed a guarantee into the state’s constitution that would prevent a future governor from summarily overturning climate protections and environmental regulations passed by the Lujan Grisham administration, Sedillo Lopez said, because such actions would violate residents’ constitutional rights. .
The intention is to avoid a repeat of former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez slashing environmental rules put in place by former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, Sedillo Lopez said.
Since the 30-day session is budget-focused, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office must approve all items dealt with by the legislature.
In an email, Nora Meyers Sackett, spokesperson for the governor, wrote that the office would assess “all proposals in good faith.”
“We will thoroughly review and assess potential initiatives in our ongoing conversations with legislative leaders,” she wrote, adding that the governor had expressed interest in climate-focused initiatives, such as fuel standards. clean, hydrogen and state codification of emission reduction targets.
The co-sponsors of the proposed amendment are Democrats, although an anonymous Republican has expressed interest in supporting it, Sedillo Lopez said.
This time around, there will be both House and Senate versions to double the chances of it passing in a 30-day session, Sedillo Lopez said.
She noted that her profile had been raised by being discussed both in a hearing before the Interim Committee on Water and Natural Resources and in a breakout session at the New Brunswick Climate Summit. Mexico this week.
If passed by both houses, the public will vote on it as a ballot measure rather than going to the governor to sign or veto.
“The Green Amendment is not just another environmental law, but a movement that protects the rights of people to clean water, air and land, as well as to fight climate change and provide healthy environments, âsaid Sen. Harold Pope Jr., D-Albuquerque, said in a statement.
The idea for this proposal came from Green Amendments for the Generations, a national organization that has introduced similar constitutional amendments in several states.
“New Mexico is a leader in promoting meaningful and enforceable constitutional protection of the rights of present and future generations to a clean and healthy environment,” Maya van Rossum, founder of the group, said in a statement.
âCommunities across the country are following New Mexico’s lead, using similar language, and learning from the wave of legislative and community support that is growing here. “