Office Of Public Facilitation
Approximately 30 years ago, the New Mexico Legislature passed the Environmental Improvement Act, which grants the Environment Department and its Environmental Improvement Board (Board) the power to regulate the environment on behalf of the citizens of New Mexico. The act’s purpose is to ensure an environment that in the greatest possible measure will confer optimum health, safety, comfort, and economic and social well-being on its inhabitants; will protect this generation as well as those yet unborn from health threats posed by the environment; and will maximize the economic and cultural benefits of a healthy people.
Public participation is part of what makes the regulatory state legitimate. Particularly with judicial review and legislative oversight, the combination of public notice and the opportunity to comment ensures that regulation intersects with democracy. The Board thereafter adopted regulations governing permitting, certain adjudications, and rule-making procedures,which encourage meaningful participation by members of the public, including those not represented by counsel. When legally tasked, the Office of Public Facilitation (OPF) conducts fair and impartial public hearings for the Department, the Environmental Improvement Board, the Water Quality Control Commission and Occupational Health and Safety Bureau. the office of Public Facilitation is an independent unit within the Office of the Secretary, and staffed by a full time Administrative Law Judge, a Board and Commission Administrator, and a Hearing Clerk.
Every one of the rules set out above for Department and Commission hearings includes provisions for vigorous public participation. Individuals and organizations may choose to present technical testimony or to present general, non-technical comment, without having to meet any test for standing. A statement of intent to present technical testimony is required, as it is for every one else. No entry of appearance or other requirement applies to general comment, which may be given orally or in writing before or during the hearing.