By Noah Long, Natural Resources Defense Council
A coalition of climate and community groups has been working together to propose a broad plan for New Mexico to address climate change and provide market mechanisms to protect communities and drive equitable economic innovation.
The package would also include appropriations to invest in grants to support energy-efficiency improvements for low- and moderate-income families; decarbonization credits for small business; and fleet electrification and other job-creating investments. We urge New Mexico legislators to make this package the cornerstone of climate and economic-transition legislation at January’s session.
The Climate Security Act would create a Climate Leadership Council to recommend future action. The council would be co-chaired by the NMED and EMNRD secretaries, with members from stakeholder groups that include tribes, impacted communities, and industry.
The CSA would allow for vehicles, buildings and industry to replace fossil-fuel use with clean energy, and would bring essential utility services to households that today lack water, wastewater, broadband or electricity services.
The legislation paves the way to decarbonize New Mexico. It requires statewide greenhouse gases to be at net zero by 2050.
By 2030, upstream methane production would be required to be 60% lower than 2005 levels, and by 2035, electric utilities would have to reach net-zero CO2 emissions. Clean-energy standards for electricity and transportation fuels are part of the bill and are to be consistent with decarbonizing our economy by 2050. The CSA sets ambitious, achievable requirements for emissions reductions in every sector.
For electricity, the act would accelerate the New Mexico’s 100% clean-energy requirement to 2035 — 10 years faster than the current requirement. The act would also require the Environment Department to set and maintain advanced clean car and truck standards to ensure New Mexicans have the cleanest, most efficient vehicle options. In addition, the bill contains authorization for the a program the Governor has prioritized: cutting the emissions intensity of transportation fuels.”
The Climate Security Act also establishes a credit system for clean transportation fuels. The clean-fuel standard would reduce greenhouse gases from transportation vehicles as part of a market-based system that benefits communities.
Finally, the CSA would ensure that no New Mexico communities are left behind as we transition to cleaner energy. Starting in 2023, utilities and co-ops would be required to report the number of disconnects that impact low-income customers and to develop plans to provide affordable and clean electricity to all low-income households by 2035. The legislation would create a fund for those in need, with small fees collected from utilities used to provide electricity and other essential services to hundreds of households each year — providing substantial benefits to those who need it most.
In sum, the Climate Security Act will allow New Mexico to take charge of its energy and climate future in a way that benefits all of us and our children.