Sponsored by Representative Reena Szczepanski and Senator Liz Stefanics

  • Download this fact sheet (updated Jan. 2024; 1 page; pdf)
  • Read our op-ed on this bill (link)
  • Download a previous version of this fact sheet (Jan. 2023; 1 page; pdf)

The health and well-being of New Mexicans is increasingly at risk because of climate change. We must take immediate action to protect our people and communities from its ever-worsening effects.

The Issue

The health of New Mexicans is increasingly being harmed by climate change, from increasing extreme weather events and drought, to more intense wildfires and more disease-spreading mosquitoes. These hazards impact physical and mental health in many ways, including increased rates of heat stress, spread of infectious diseases, worsening lung and heart disease, and allergies, which can lead to challenges such as financial and food insecurity and a deterioration in overall well-being. New Mexico’s children, communities of color, older adults, people with disabilities, and families earning low incomes are most likely to suffer serious, long-term health consequences from these climate impacts.

By the Numbers

  • New Mexico now has an average of 50 more days of extreme wildfire risk conditions (hot, dry, windy) than in 1970. Northern New Mexico has experienced the largest increases in such days nationwide.[1]
  • New Mexico saw an 18% increase in respiratory emergency room visits during the wildfire season, compared to previous years.[2]
  • The number of emergency room visits for heat-related illness in New Mexico more than doubled between 2009 and 2019,[3] and likely doubled again between 2019 and 2023.

The Solution

We need to protect all New Mexicans from threats to our health caused by extreme weather events related to climate change, which are causing harm today and will be more frequent and intense in the future. This Act will help address these threats to public health by:

  • Creating a statewide Public Health and Climate Program at the Department of Health to build capacity and expertise, support development and implementation of response systems, and improve interagency collaboration.
  • Establishing a Public Health and Climate Resiliency Fund to assist and enable local and tribal communities to adapt to climate change and respond to public health emergencies from extreme weather events.

These two approaches, combined with meaningful engagement with the communities most harmed by climate change, will help improve health outcomes, equity, climate adaptation, and climate resiliency in New Mexico.

Pass the Statewide Public Health and Climate Program!

The following organizations endorse this legislation:
American Lung Association
Center for Civic Policy
Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center
NM Alliance of Health Councils
NM Environmental Public Health NetworkNM Health Professionals for Climate Action
NMVC Action Fund
NM Voices for Children
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Prosperity Works

[1] “Fire Weather: Heat, dryness, and wind are driving wildfires in the Western U.S.,” Climate Central, Aug. 25, 2021
[2] Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, New Mexico Department of Health
[3] National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed Oct. 21, 2022, from www.cdc.gov/ephtracking