Protect New Mexico

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An Act Relating To The Department Of Environment; Prohibiting False Statements To The Department; Providing Criminal Penalties.

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MOD HB 189

Legislative URL:
HB 189 on
Emergency Clause:
[5] HENRC/HJC-HENRC [14] DNP-CS/DP-HJC [30] DP/a [32] PASSED/H (65-0) [23] SCONC/SJC-SCONC [32] DP-SJC [44] DP/a API.

Related Legislators

Bill Sponsor:

Related Documents

HENRC Committee Report
HENRC Committee Substitute
HJC Committee Report
Final House Vote
SCONC Committee Report
SJC Committee Report
Fiscal Impact Report

House Bill 189 establishes a new section of law making it a fourth degree felony to make

false statements and other false representations to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). Specifically, the prohibited actions include:

  • making false oral, written or visual statements or representations;
  • making false statements/representations/certifications or omissions of material fact in an application or other document filed with NMED;
  • falsifying, tampering with or rendering inaccurate any device, method or record used by the department to monitor or track information;
  • falsifying or concealing a material fact; or
  • making or using any document with the knowledge that the document contains false statements or representations.


A second or subsequent violation or a violation resulting in an adverse environmental impact raises the crime to a third degree felony. A violation that creates a substantial danger of death or serious bodily injury to another person is a second degree felony. A person guilty under this section is also subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day for each day between the date of the violation and the date that the civil penalty is imposed.

Finally, the bill lists numerous acts and rules that are considered “conducting business with the department” for purposes of this section, including, among others, the Environmental Improvement Act, the Air Quality Control Act, the Radiation Protection Act, the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Act; the Hazardous Waste Feasibility Study Act; the Ground Water Protection Act; the Environmental Compliance Act, the Solid Waste Act; the Pesticide Control Act; and the Sanitary Projects Act.

While the bill appears to be a positive step towards ensuring that NMED receives true and accurate information from permit applicants or others with whom NMED is “conducting business,” it may raise some concerns.

  • One concern may be that community members or public interest advocates who submit comments or speak at a hearing about their concerns on an issue might potentially be found liable for making false or inaccurate statements because the language of the bill applies to “persons” rather than some tailored sub-set of persons who conducting business with NMED.
  • Another concern might be the potentially large penalty amounts ($10,000/day) to those community members or public interest advocates, especially in the case of a negligently made false or inaccurate statement that might not be discovered until quite some time later.


Update: On February 4, 2013 the HENRC adopted a committee substitute bill that addressed  concerns that were raised to the committee, particularly about the bill potentially being too broad in the net it cast for potential violators. The committee substitute:

  • now applies only to persons regulated by the department rather than all persons (such as members of the public commenting at a hearing on a permit);
  • focuses on liquid waste and drinking water systems rather than the laundry list of statutes to which the original bill applied;
  • changes the consequences of negligent violations of the act so that the negligent violator may receive a penalty of up to $10,000 (in total, not per day) and an order to take remedial action to fix the consequences of the violation; and,
  • prohibits a monetary penalty in the case of a negligent violation made and  discovered by the person regulated by the NMED as long as the person notifies the NMED immediately and agrees to remediate the consequences of the negligent violation.


One possible benefit of the substitute is that the bill might now be considered better- tailored to address the problem. Another benefit might be that it may provide incentive to negligent violators to report their errors and fix them in order to avoid monetary penalties.

The HJC amended the bill on February 20, 2013 so that the word “document” in one of the listed prohibited actions is now qualified by “required to be filed with or submitted to the department or required by rule to be maintained by the person regulated by the department.” This amendment may provide another safeguard ensuring that members of the public are not  level unintentionally snagged by this bill.

Outcome: HB 189 passed the House (65-0) and died on the Senate Floor calendar.

Date of Summary:  1/23/13; Updated 1/29/13; Updated 2/7/13; Updated 2/22/13; Updated 5/16/13