For Immediate Release: July 1, 2021
Climate Coalition Petitions for Adoption of Clean Car Standard in 2021
ALBUQUERQUE, NM — A broad coalition of New Mexican citizen groups filed a petition with the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board today, asking the board to update its Advanced Clean Car Standards by the end of 2021. Updating and enforcing these rules is a critical step in resolving the climate crisis and protecting public health. The standards would limit air pollution from vehicle tailpipes and require auto manufacturers to deliver an increasing number of zero-emission electric vehicles (EVs) for sale in the region. The coalition filed a similar petition with the state Environmental Improvement Board in June.
The timing of adoption is the key issue at play, with adoption this year resulting in more electric vehicles coming to the state by 2024 (or sooner if early action is rewarded). On June 24, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Mayor Keller of Albuquerque announced a plan to adopt Advanced Clean Car Standards at the State and County level, but to do it in 2022, likely resulting in implementation that would not come until the second-half of the 2020s.
“2022 is too late,” said Tammy Fiebelkorn with Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “Transportation is New Mexico’s second-largest source of pollution. We need to act sooner.”
The Federal Clean Air Act gives states two options: to follow federal emission standards for vehicles, or to adopt more health-protective Advanced Clean Car Standards. The standard will be updated in June of 2022. Once that happens, New Mexico will need to adopt the newest version of the rules, potentially delaying the state program until 2026. The Governor’s plan does not take that into account.
“Clean-car standards are critical to reaching the governor’s goal of a 45% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030,” said Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director. “Reducing pollution from cars and trucks is critical to the health of our communities. By acting now to get clean cars on the road we’re addressing the extreme impacts of the climate crisis that our state is facing now with extreme drought, heat and wildfires.”
The Clean Air Act requires states to give automakers at least two years notice before enforcing Advanced Clean Car Standards. If New Mexico adopted the rules this year, it would begin to see more clean vehicles deployed in the state in 2024 or sooner. If New Mexico delays past the end of 2021, it would likely need to wait to adopt the next version of Advanced Clean Car Standards in 2023, which could mean a delay in clean vehicle requirements until 2026.
The coalition is initiating this rulemaking, as with the EIB petition, to start public input and deliver results sooner rather than later. This is a process New Mexico has undertaken before, and the policy is a relatively simple yes-or-no question due to the constraints set by the federal Clean Air Act.
Adopting Clean Car Standards now will maximize the benefits of the additional steps that New Mexico is already taking to prepare for a future with more clean electric vehicles. For example, the New Mexico Legislature passed House Bill 521 in 2019, requiring investor-owned electric utilities to develop charging infrastructure and programs needed to support the deployment of more electric vehicles. Right now, the Public Regulatory Commission is considering plans for more than $10 million in new investments. At the same time the state adopted Senate Bill 489, the Energy Transition Act, setting the state on a path to 100 percent zero-emission electricity, which will enable New Mexicans to drive on clean energy — if clean vehicles are available.
“The legislature, the Public Regulation Commission and the electric utilities are already laying the groundwork for expanded electric vehicle infrastructure in the state,” said Demis Foster, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New Mexico. Let’s act on this opportunity to adopt advanced clean car standards as soon as possible to protect the air we breathe and the health of our communities.”
“Transportation is the second-largest expense for the typical family, behind housing,” said Ona Porter, CEO of Prosperity Works. “Accelerating clean car deployment can save families money and reduce pollution. The sooner we can realize these benefits, the better.”
The organizations that filed the petition today are: Center for Civic Policy, Conservation Voters New Mexico, Natural Resources Defense Council, Plug In America, Prosperity Works, Sierra Club, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, and 350 New Mexico.