Actions: SPREF  SCONC/SJC/SFC-SCONC
Scheduled: Not Scheduled
Senate Bill 112 (SB 112 ) authorizes the natural resources trustee to bring suit for damages caused by release of an injurious substance pursuant to the Natural Resources Trustee Act. It provides for the adoption of rules for the assessment and collection of fines related to the release of petroleum-based injurious substances with limitations. SB 112 amends the Natural Resources Trustee Fund and provides that the natural resources trustee may join a civil action pursuant to the Water Quality Act, the Air Quality Control Act and the Hazardous Waste Act. It amends and enacts sections of the NMSA 1978 and makes an appropriation.Legislation Overview:
Senate Bill 112 (SB 112) amends the Air Quality Control Act, the Hazardous Waste Act and the Water Quality Control Act (Sections 74-2-12, 74-4-10, 74-6-10 NMSA 1978 respectively) to allow the natural resource trustee (Trustee) the right to join a civil action for the violation of each of these act’s provisions and makes technical changes in each of these acts. SB 112 adds a findings section to the Natural Resources Trustee Act (NRTA) that include the right to a healthy environment and the threat that release of injurious substances into the environment causes. It contains a definition section with five definitions including an extensive definition of injurious substance. SB 112 authorizes the Trustee to bring suit for damages caused by release of an injurious substance including for past releases that have a continuing and present injury to natural resources pursuant to the NRTA. It directs the Trustee to adopt and enforce rules for the assessment and collection of fines related to the release of petroleum-based injurious substances but allows a person who is or may be affected by the rule to file a direct appeal to the NM Court of Appeals. SB 112 establishes a process for a cooperative assessment of the nature and extent of damages before the Trustee institutes a lawsuit and delineates those who will be responsible and the types of damages for these releases available to the state (damages, interim losses, residual losses and reasonable cost of assessment of injury). It imposes a five-year statute of limitations for the Trustee to bring a claim and establishes an assessment costs subaccount in the Natural Resources Trustee Fund that are receives these monies. It specifies that this fund’s monies may be spent only in that area which suffered injury, destruction or loss of a natural resource with some exceptions and deletes the definition of assessment costs from this section (Section 75-7-5 NMSA 1978).Current Law:
Trustee cannot join lawsuits brought for violation of the Air Quality Control Act, the Water Quality Control Act or the Hazardous Waste Act. The Trustee may not sue for past releases even if the damages are ongoing.Relates To:
SB 112 duplicates HB 91.