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Tribal Environmental Justice Specialist

The position of Tribal Environmental Justice Specialist was created in the 2022 Legislature to oversee the Department’s environmental, energy climate, and natural and cultural resource work, including the Energy Transition Act, the 30 x 30 Initiative, the 50 Year Water Plan, and the Hydrogen Hub initiative, among many others, and was filled in June of 2023 . A primary goal is to ensure expanded outreach, engagement and collaboration with the Nations, Pueblos, Tribes and Indigenous peoples and stakeholders, while protecting the interests of these groups in Legislatively-assigned Boards and Commissions, as well as other work groups etc., that may impact all these peoples.

  • Energy Transition Act (SB 489, 2019)
  • Water Trust Board (NMSA § 72-4A-4, 2007)
  • Outdoor Recreation Advisory Board (NMSA § 9-15-14.2)
  • Rio Grande Trail Commission (NMSA § 9-5C-1, 2015)
  • Produced Water Government Advisory Committee (NMSA § 70-13-1 (HB 546 2019)
  • Climate Change Task Force (EO 2019-003 Addressing Climate Change and Energy Waste Prevention)
  • Drought Task Force (EO 2020-084 Declaration Of Drought)
  • 30 by 30 Committee – Protecting New Mexico’ s Lands, Watersheds, Wildlife, and Natural Heritage (EO 2021-052)
  • 50-Year Water Plan/ Tribal Water Work Group (2021)
  • OSE-ISC Water Policy & Infrastructure Task Force Workgroup (2022)
  • Fire Planning Task Force (NMSA 68-2-34, 2021)
  • Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force (NEED NMSA/EO)
  • Water Security Planning Act (SB 337)
  • New Mexico Uranium Reclamation (HB 164, 2022)
  • Sustainable Economy Task Force (SB 112)

IAD also participates on other State and Federal Boards/Commissions to advocate for tribal concerns and issues.

  • Solar For All Program – IAD is an MOA partner with The NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
  • Integrated Water Finance Plan (Note: Need to determine if this is Legislatively mandated)
  • Water Resources Development Act (Note: Need to determine if this is Legislatively mandated)
  • EO 2022-13 Establishing the Clean Hydrogen Development Initiative and Implementing Various Measures to Foster a Hydrogen Economy For The Benefit of All New Mexicans
  • Tribal Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee (IAD is currently working to obtain membership to this Task Force)
  • Nuclear Energy Tribal Working Group (IAD is currently working to obtain membership to this Task Force)

Below is the current list of New Mexico and regional and Federal Boards, Commissions, and Task Forces on which the Tribal Environmental Justice Specialist serves in order to represent Tribal interests, and facilitate any consultation, collaboration, and other outreach.

30 by 30 Committee - Protecting New Mexico’s Lands, Watersheds, Wildlife, and Natural Heritage (EO 2021-052)



Dropdown: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says that the committee will work to conserve 30% of all land in New Mexico by 2030. The initiative comes on the heels of a similar national effort by President Biden.

Climate Change Task Force (EO 2019-003 Addressing Climate Change and Energy Waste Prevention)



In January 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued Executive Order 2019-003 on Climate Change and Waste Prevention, which created the state Interagency Climate Change Task Force and included directives for agencies to incorporate climate mitigation and adaptation practices into their policies and operations.

Drought Task Force - (EO 2020-084 Declaration of Drought)



Governors Gary Johnson, Bill Richardson, Susana Martinez and Michelle Lujan-Grisham all took Executive action to combat Drought in New Mexico. The Drought Task Force is chaired by the State Engineer and includes cabinet secretaries from several state agencies.

Produced Water Government Advisory Committee - (NMSA § 70-13-1 (HB 546 2019) NMSA § 9-5C-1, 2015)



The mission of the Produced Water Government Advisory Board (PWGAB) is to “Advance scientific research and technology development required to guide the development of science-based state and national policies and regulations for the treatment and fit-for-purpose reuse of oil and gas produced water.” The PWGAB is pursuing the reuse of produced water to supplement fresh water supplies and reduce or eliminate the use of fresh water in oil and gas development.

Rio Grande Trail Commission (NMSA § 9-5C-1, 2015)



In 2015, the Rio Grande Trail bill was signed into law. In July 2015, the commission was established to define and recommend viable path routes of the Rio Grande Trail, mitigate challenges related to its establishment and define and recommend other features, facilities and enhancements needed on the trail. Tribes have primacy and are stewards of the Rio Grande for several reaches. IAD is working to ensure that this Commission respects Tribal Sovereignty and informs both the public and the Tribes, Nations and Pueblos this trail will not encroach on tribal land, and that substantive collaboration is undertaken to ensure tribal issues and interests are addressed.

Outdoor Recreation Advisory Board (NMSA § 9-15-14.2)



Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed New Mexico’s Outdoor Recreation Division (ORD) into law on April 2, 2019. At the time, ORD joined a dozen other states committed to growing and championing the outdoor recreation economy, which (is) as an immensely powerful engine to grow wealth and job opportunities in our state. Written into the law was the first-ever Outdoor Equity Fund, a grant intended to help disadvantaged youth get outside.

Sustainable Economy Task Force (SB 112 2021)



Senate Bill 112 established the Sustainable Economy Taskforce (SET Force). The bill requires that the SET Force develop a strategic plan to transition the state economy away from reliance on natural resource extraction.

Water Trust Board (NMSA § 72-4A-4, 2007)



The 2001 Legislature enacted the Water Project Finance Act which created the Water Project Fund in the New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) and charged the NMFA with administration of the Fund and the Water Trust Board (WTB). The WTB is a diverse 16-member board that recommends to the Legislature projects to be funded through the Water Project Fund.

Water Security Planning Act (SB 337)


Senate Bill 337 authorizes the Interstate Stream Commission to make loans and grants for regional water planning; and requires the Interstate Stream Commission to make rules and guidelines for regional water planning, provides duties of regional water planning entities, and protects priority administration and water rights owners. The Act also requires the Commission to work with Indian Affairs Department to establish an advisory council for taking into account in the regional water security program tribal sovereignty, tribal water rights and the water needs of tribal communities.

Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force (Section 74-4A-2 through 74-4A-14 NMSA 1978)



The mission of the Radioactive Waste Consultation Task Force (Task Force) is to represent the interests of the State of New Mexico regarding the safe and uneventful transportation of nuclear waste in and through the state.

Fire Planning Task Force (2021 New Mexico Statute 68-2-34 (2021))



The New Mexico Fire Planning Task Force (Task Force) was created by the NM Legislature in 2003. The Task Force is made up of local, state, federal, and tribal cooperators who assist Forestry to identify and protect areas most vulnerable to wildfires. The Task Force meets (at least) once per year to approve Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP), develop model ordinances and standards for building codes, and consider the benefits of thinning, prescribed burns, and defensible space to reduce the threat of wildfires to communities.

Nuclear Energy Tribal Working Group


The Nuclear Energy Tribal Working Group (NETWG) is a chartered working group, focused on engaging tribal governments interested in the broad spectrum of Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear energy activities. NETWG explores such topics as nuclear research and development, small module reactors, stakeholder outreach, STEM education, emergency response and planning activities, and potential economic business opportunities

Tribal Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee


The Tribal Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee (TRMTC) engages tribal governments interested in or impacted by the broad spectrum of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear energy activities related to shipments of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. With representatives from 21 Native American tribes, the composition of TRMTC offers a unique perspective on the broad range of issues surrounding transportation and storage of radioactive materials and spent nuclear fuel.

Western Regional Partnership


The mission of WRP is to provide a proactive and collaborative framework for senior-policy level Federal, State and Tribal leadership to identify common goals and emerging issues in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah and to develop solutions that support WRP Partners and protect natural and cultural resources, while promoting sustainability, homeland security and military readiness.

For questions about the Tribal Environmental Justice Specialist Program

Michael Chacon, Tribal Environmental Justice Specialist
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department 

Cell: (505) 469-7090
Email: Michael.Chacon@iad.nm.gov

Initiatives in Environment, Energy, Climate, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources

Energy Transition Act (SB 489, 2019)



Governor Lujan Grisham signed SB 489, the Energy Transition Act (ETA), into law in March 2019. IAD, in partnership with the Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) and the Economic Development Department (EDD), have been working to meaningfully implement the ETA in the northwest part of the state due to the closure of the San Juan Generating Station.

Hydrogen Hub Initiative (EO 2022-13)



Governor Lujan Grisham signed Executive Order 2022-013, Establishing the Clean Hydrogen Development Initiative on March 10, 22. New Mexico has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Colorado, Utah and Wyoming to compete jointly for a portion of the $8 billion allocated in the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for the development of regional clean hydrogen hubs.

New Mexico Uranium Mine Reclamation (HB 164, 2022)


On March 1, 2022, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 164 (HB 164, 2022). The bill established a new approach for organizing and coordinating the scientific, regulatory, economic, and financial sectors to clean up and reclaim former uranium mine and mill sites across the state of New Mexico. HB164 addresses air, land, surface and groundwater quality, and ensures that adequate resources (both funding and personnel) are available to sustain and accelerate uranium reclamation efforts.

New Mexico Reburial Grounds Act (N.M. Stat. §§ 18-6-24 through 18-6-27)


IAD supports the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) to review and revise the Reburial Grounds Act (§§ 18-6-24 through 18-6-27) and draft a final rule to support tribal nations’ efforts to protect their cultural heritage.

Integrated Water Finance Plan


This project builds on the recommendations of the recently released  50-Year Water Action Plan and in the Water Task Force Report Facing New Mexico’s 21at Century Water Challenges: A Report of the New Mexico Water Policy and Infrastructure Task Force. The plan aims to accelerate progress on these recommendations by:

  • Securing more one-time Federal funding for water projects and initiatives
  • Connect Federal funds to existing and new Tribal and state water programs
  • Develop innovative financing approaches leveraging state, federal and local resources

Solar For All Program

IAD is an MOA partner with The NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department https://www.nmlegis.gov/handouts/WNR%20100323%20Item%2010%20EMNRD%20Solar%20for%20All.pdf

As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Public Law 117-58, EMNRD has applied for the Solar for All grant program (SfA Program) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding opportunity number EPA-R-HQ-SFA-23-01. IAD is a Party to the grant, which is for cooperating on promoting the deployment of Solar and Energy Storage Solutions (ESS) in communities across New Mexico.

Water Resources Development Act (WRDA 2022)



Bill Text – https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=43B965E2-E96E-426E-9C09-57E70706CD40

The WRDA is all about the U.S. Army Corps (USACE) and water infrastructure. Every 2 years, Congress authorizes studies and projects to enhance communities’ resilience to flooding and climate change and to restore the natural environment. 

Grant/Funding Opportunities

This position is also quickly evolving toward becoming a clearinghouse for grant and funding avenues for climate justice, environmental justice, energy, fire management, water infrastructure, and transportation, among others.