Santa Fe, NM – Today House Bill 286, the “Oil & Gas Financial Assurance” act, sponsored by Representative Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo-18), received a “Do Pass” from the House Judiciary Committee, which Rep. Chasey is Chairwoman of, with a vote of 9 to 7. HB 286 will now head to the House floor after clearing its second committee, having previously passed the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee with a 6 to 5 party line vote.
If passed by the legislature, HB 286 would update the penalties for violations of the Oil and Gas Act for the first time since 1935. Under the Water Quality Act, water pollution violations are penalized with a maximum fine of $10,000, yet the maximum penalty allowed by the Oil and Gas Act is $1,000. By modernizing the penalty structure for violations of the Oil and Gas Act, proponents of HB 286 hope to curb water pollution generated by the oil and gas industry.
These common sense safeguards are in place to protect New Mexico’s most valuable resource, water, from oil and gas contamination generated by drilling.
“What the bill recognizes is that only bad actors should be held accountable for their bad actions. Most of the industry follows the statutes that protect our groundwater,” Representative Chasey said. “We’ve addressed concerns from the industry and look forward to working with them in the future on what may need to be done on financial assurance.”