HB 429 amends the Environmental Improvement Act, the Water Quality Act and the Oil and Gas Act to allow private citizens to sue polluters directly to get them to stop polluting. The passage of the bill reduces the financial burden on the environmental concerned state agencies and ultimately saves taxpayer dollars that may have to be spent cleaning up sites.
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At a time when state agency budgets are tight and environmentally concerned agencies have limited resources to enforce existing environmental laws, regulations and permits, this legislation provides citizens with an important tool to help the state stop polluters from polluting.
House Bill 429 will be heard on Saturday, March 9th.
“We support this bill because it empowers citizens to protect the air that they breathe and the water that they drink when the state does not have the resources or the will to do so. Like a neighborhood watch program established where a community lacks sufficient police protection, this bill allows citizens to support the state’s effort to protect New Mexico’s water and air,” says Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director.
The Private Right of Action Act WILL:
- enable local citizens who are affected by pollution to sue a company that is violating state environmental laws and petition a court to order the company to stop polluting
- enable citizens who prevail in these law suits to recover their costs and attorney fees.
- require that the state receive any civil penalties ordered by the court
The Act does NOT:
- encourage frivolous suits since lawyers are not guaranteed compensation
- require any agency to have to pay litigation reimbursement costs
- impact businesses that comply with environmental laws
- add additional regulatory burdens