In his State of the State address last week, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson highlighted his administration's recent efforts to earn the moniker "the Clean Energy State" through efforts such as implementation of an aggressive renewable portfolio standard, creation of the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority, and passage of a number of clean energy tax incentives he described as "the most comprehensive package” in the country, as well as further incentivizing solar energy development. He also announced plans to push forward with three major legislative initiatives intended to address climate change in the state. The announcement places New Mexico in the forefront of states declining to wait on federal action and moving ahead with their own climate change initiatives. The three new proposed bills are as follows:
HB 78 would amend the state's Air Quality Control Act and direct the state's Environmental Improvement Board to adopt rules governing early reduction and offset allowances for businesses in the state. It would also require mandatory reporting for importers of electricity and fuels whose production or use would result in emissions of 10,000 mt CO2e. For a copy of the bill, go to http://legis.state.nm.us/Sessions/10%20Regular/bills/house/HB0078.pdf.
SB 115 would also amend the Air Quality Control Act to allow permitting authorities to deny a permit application where, among other situations, the applicant has been convicted within the preceding 10 years of a felony for violation of environmental law; price-fixing, bribery, or fraud; or acting in restraint of trade. Permit applications could also face denial where the applicant has had any permit in any jurisdiction revoked or submitted. Permit applicants would be required to file a disclosure statement unless they had previously filed a registration statement with the SEC, along with a copy of the most recent 10-K. For a copy of the bill, go to http://legis.state.nm.us/Sessions/10%20Regular/bills/senate/SB0115.pdf.
Finally, following the trend established by most states that have addressed the issue thus far, SB 145 would provide further certainty for CCS projects in the state by vesting pore space ownership with the surface owner, unless the pore space has been previously severed from the surface estate. Interestingly, however, the surface estate holder would retain pore space ownership for "all matters relating to the mineral estate" where the pore space has been severed. Also, proving that long-term liability for injected CO2 remains a controversial issue, Gov. Richardson's proposal specifies that injected CO2 "shall remain the property and responsibility of the person owning it at the time of injection, unless and until transferred to and accepted by another person." For a copy of the bill, go to http://legis.state.nm.us/Sessions/10%20Regular/bills/senate/SB0145.pdf.