HOUSE DEMOCRATS NEWS
Bills would consolidate NM’s environmental data & allow prescribed burns for forest management
Two important environmental bills – the Environmental Database Act and the Prescribed Burning Act – passed the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday.
Sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey (D – Albuquerque) and Rep. Georgene Louis (D – Albuquerque), House Bill 51 – the Environmental Database Act would create a single, map-based database for all of the state’s environmental information, including natural resources, land uses, and public health and environmental data.
“With many state agencies responsible for different aspects of our environmental data, it is currently extremely difficult for the public and the agencies themselves to have a clear picture of what’s happening in the state” said Rep. Gail Chasey (D- Albuquerque). “We can increase government transparency by consolidating this data onto a centralized map, from locations of hazardous waste sites to information on endangered species. Not only would this database increase efficiency, it would improve the planning process for permit applicants and for the agencies.”
Rep. Georgene Louis (D – Albuquerque) added: “New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment for a reason – we live amidst an incredible countryside of diverse species and natural resources. This environmental database would not only streamline permitting and planning processes, but also increase public transparency and protect our beautiful state.”
With bipartisan sponsorship from Rep. Matthew McQueen (D – Galisteo) and Rep. Gail Armstrong (R – Magdalena), House Bill 57 – the Prescribed Burning Act would allow private landowners to conduct prescribed burns, and establish a state voluntary training and certification program for landowners and contractors interested in conducting these burns.
“Over 100 years ago, we started suppressing fire, so New Mexico now has densely overgrown forests in a landscape where fires are a natural part of the cycle,” said Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-Galisteo). “We have a lot of work ahead of us to treat our forests and make them healthy again, and bringing fire back to the process is an important step in the right direction.”
House Bill 51 passed committee with a 7-4 vote, while House Bill 57 was unanimously passed. House Bill 51 will be heard next in the House State Government, Elections, and Indian Affairs Committee and House Bill 57 in the House Judiciary Committee. Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website and access committee meetings and House floor sessions on the Webcasts tab. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.