Public Participation in Rule Development
Make your voice heard!
THE NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT AIR QUALITY BUREAU (AQB) knows that the citizens of New Mexico value the clarity and quality of the air that they breathe. There are many opportunities for public comments on rules and regulatory actions. This page includes information on:
- Where our rules and regulations come from;
- Who approves these rules and regulations;
- How you can create or change air quality rules and regulations; and
- How the public can participate in regulation development.
What is the Environmental Improvement Act and how does it relate to New Mexico’s rules and regulations?
The Environmental Improvement Act [74-1-1 to 74-1-10 NMSA 1978] created the New Mexico Environment Department.
The Act gives the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) authority to:
The Act also gives the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) the power to:
- propose regulations to the EIB
- participate in EIB hearings on rules
- assume responsibility for enforcing EIB regulations.
What is the Environmental Improvement Board?
The Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) was created in 1971. The Board consists of seven (7) members appointed by the Governor with the consent of the senate. The members of the Board are appointed for overlapping terms, with no term exceeding five years. No more than three members shall be appointed from any political party. A majority of the membership of the Board shall be individuals who represent the public interest.
Members must not derive any significant portion of their incomes from persons subject to or who appear before the Board on issues related to the federal Clean Air Act. The EIB is responsible for environmental management and specific health related programs in New Mexico. It is their duty to determine how environmental regulations and standards are applied throughout the state.
The Air Quality Bureau, located within the New Mexico Environment Department, protects ambient air quality within the state, with the exception of Bernalillo County and Indian lands. The Board also has authority over:
- Food protection
- Public water supply
- Liquid waste
- Occupational health and safety
- Radiation control
- Petroleum storage tanks
Who can create or change regulations?
In most cases, proposed changes to state regulations are developed and presented to the EIB by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). In many cases, the NMED works with people who may be affected by potential new regulations or revisions to existing regulations by proposing these regulations to the EIB. These working groups may include representatives from public interest groups, affected industries, and environmental groups.
However, any person may petition the EIB to adopt, change or repeal a regulation. No regulation can be adopted until a public hearing has been conducted before the Board. Hearings on regulations for local issues are held within the area that is substantially affected by the regulation. When the entire state is affected by a regulation, the hearing is usually held in Santa Fe, or Albuquerque.
In adopting regulations, the Board considers all relevant facts and circumstances presented at the public hearing, including but not limited to:
- Character and degree of injury to or interference with health, welfare, animal and plant life, property, and the environment;
- The public interest, including the social, economic, and cultural value of the regulated activity;
- The social, economic, and cultural effects of environmental degradation; and
- Technical practicability, necessity for and economic reasonability of reducing, eliminating, or otherwise taking action with respect to environmental degradation.
A notice of hearing will be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected. Notice of the hearing shall be given at least thirty (30) days prior to the hearing date and shall state the subject, time, and place of the hearing and the manner in which interested persons may present their views (such as oral or written testimony). This is the formal comment period.
The notice shall also state where interested persons may get copies of any proposed amendment or new regulation.
Although not required by law, the AQB may organize a workgroup or hold an open house or public meeting to allow the public a chance to learn more about the proposed regulation, ask questions of staff members, and provide input to the Air Quality Bureau in an informal atmosphere.
Where can I get more information?
If you would like to be notified of upcoming rule change hearings or information about hearing procedures, send a written request to:
NMED Boards and Commissions
1190 St. Francis Drive
Harold Runnels Building
Room South – 2050
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
How can citizens participate?
At these hearings, the EIB hears testimony from the New Mexico Environment Department, representatives of affected groups, and any member of the general public wishing to comment on the proposed change. Individuals may participate in the hearing procedure by providing technical or non-technical testimony.
“Technical testimony” is defined as scientific, engineering, economic, or other specialized testimony.
It is important to note when presenting technical testimony at a hearing, a Notice of Intent to Present Technical Testimony must be submitted at least fourteen (14) days prior to the hearing.
This statement will describe the qualifications of the witness, including a description of their education and work background. Any member of the public may participate in a hearing by presenting non-technical testimony and by conducting cross-examination of any witness. A written non-technical statement may be submitted in lieu of providing oral testimony at the hearing.
How can I get involved?
If you are interested in working with the NMED on air quality regulations, please contact Robert Spillers by email or at (505) 476-4324, or call the Air Quality Bureau’s main phone line at (505) 476-4300 or 1-800-224-7009.