Several times this legislative session, we asked New Mexico’s Audubon network to speak up in support of New Mexico House Bill 51, a piece of legislation known commonly as the Environmental Database Act. Over 400 Audubon members took action by calling and emailing their legislators in support of the bill, and we’re thrilled to announce that their voices were heard. The Environmental Database Act has passed the New Mexico State Legislature and now goes to Governor Lujan-Grisham for her signature!
Environmental and public health data in New Mexico is currently separately distributed among many different agency websites, making it extremely difficult for the public and state agencies to understand what’s happening on the ground at any given time. With the data difficult to access, agencies have a harder time understanding the potential impacts of their actions and plans, since they have to operate in a vacuum without consideration of other agency data.
The Environmental Database Act will create a centralized public website that will consolidate New Mexico's environmental and public health data onto one user-friendly and interactive map of the state. This will enable agencies, the public, and industry to have a quick and comprehensive view of what's occurring and will lead to better-informed decision making when it comes to land, air, water, and wildlife.
The database will include things like locations of oil and gas wells, critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, public health data like child asthma rates, hazardous waste sites, air quality data, utility-scale solar and wind projects on state land, New Mexico’s State Parks, and much more. Also, by including data describing NPDES permits, groundwater quality, fisheries, and surface, impaired, and special status waters, this new database will allow users to more carefully consider New Mexico’s critically important water resources. Users will be able to zoom in on an area of the state they’re interested in and see all the data for that area at a glance.
The Environmental Database Act will make it much easier to see how birds, their habitats, and our communities will be affected by permitting and land use decisions. Hopefully, agencies will use it to make smarter choices as they permit projects around the state. The bill is also a win for government transparency, as it will make government data significantly more accessible and understandable to the public.
We are very thankful to the Audubon members who took action in support of this bill! Our grassroots advocates provide strength and credibility to our efforts at the New Mexico State Legislature, and we owe this victory to their continued dedication to our communities, habitats, birds, and other wildlife.
You can see the full text of the bill here.