A Green Wave is Gaining Traction in New Mexico

On January 29, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into effect her first executive order, committing the state to taking aggressive action against climate change. The Democratic Governor, who made combating global warming a cornerstone of her campaign platform, addressed the risks that climate change poses for New Mexico and set new goals for emission reductions, mitigation practices, and energy efficiency. In signing this executive order, New Mexico has joined the U.S Climate Alliance and emerged as a leader in fighting climate change.

What does the executive order do?

  • Sets a 2030 emissions reduction target of 45% below 2005 levels
  • Creates a Climate Change Task Force, co-chaired by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) and New Mexico Environment Department (NMED)
    • By September 15th, 2019, the Task Force will produce a strategy document with initial recommendations and a progress update
  • The final climate strategy must include:
    • A market-based mechanism to limit GHG emissions
    • The adoption of new building codes
    • New low emission vehicle (LEV) and zero emission vehicle (ZEV) standards
    • A collaboration with New Mexico’s Renewable Energy Transmission Authority to increase market access to existing and future renewable projects
    • Statewide regulations on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry 

The Legislature is Also Making Climate Moves

New Mexico’s legislature has been moving the needle on climate change action as well. Last year, the Senate passed Senator Soules’ (D-37) Memorial to study carbon fee and dividend legislation, citing several other states, namely Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, Oregon, California, and Vermont, who have been developing their own carbon pricing strategies. As a result, Climate XChange published Recommendations for New Mexico Carbon Pollution Pricing Policy, which outlines key opportunities and challenges for implementing carbon pricing in New Mexico, including carbon fee rates, how to protect vulnerable households and employers, and potential uses of revenue.

This week, Senator Soules’ filed new legislation calling for the implementation of a carbon fee on gasoline and natural gas. How the legislature will interact with the Governor’s plans moving forward remains to be seen, but the interest of the legislature and Governor in carbon pricing makes for a promising future in the state.

What Happening Now?

Between now and September 15th, the new Climate Change Task Force will engage in a public engagement process in order to develop the Climate Change Strategy Document. Climate XChange will work with stakeholders and officials to ensure the state develops a carbon pricing program that is effective and equitable.

Meanwhile, New Mexico’s legislative session, which started on January 15th, only lasts two months, meaning there is a tight deadline for legislators to make a move. Whether the legislature decides to proceed with a carbon pricing initiative, shift focus to other environmental proposals, or create complementary language for the governor’s executive order, such actions will have to happen within the next 6 weeks.