New Mexico Adopts Clean Cars

By Mona Blaber, Chapter Communications Director

After four days of hearings and dozens of hours of testimony and public comments, New Mexico adopted Clean Cars II standards through 2032, as well as Clean Trucks and Heavy-Duty Omnibus Standards on November 16.

“Clean Cars and Trucks Standards will literally save lives in New Mexico,”
said Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director Camilla Feibelman.

Sierra Club was part of a Clean Air Coalition that joined the state in supporting the standards at the rulemaking hearing before the state Environmental Improvement Board and Albuquerque-Bernalillo Air Quality Control Board.

“We heard from experts who pointed out that EV owners save at least $14,000 over the life of the car. We heard from commenter after commenter who told the boards about buying EVs like used or new Chevy Bolts and Nissan Leafs for as little as $16,000 and plugging their car into a wall outlet overnight to charge. Most had to go out of state to buy their cars. These standards will allow everyone to find the clean cars they want in New Mexico and support New Mexico businesses.”

New Mexico was the 10th state to adopt the updated Clean Cars standards, but Delaware and New Jersey have since joined us to make it 12.

An ERM analysis this summer found that by 2050, the standards will have prevented about as much climate pollution as New Mexico emits in an entire year, will prevent 136 premature deaths and more than 76,000 health incidents like asthma and heart attacks.

“The boards said ‘yes’ to one of the most effective climate policies New Mexico could possibly adopt,”
Feibelman said.

Advanced Clean Cars II regulates companies that manufacture cars and light-duty trucks. Starting in model year 2027, automakers must ensure that 43 percent of the new vehicles they sell in New Mexico are zero-emission vehicles (electric or plug-in hybrid). Automakers have flexibility to comply by earning “early action” credits with sales before model year 2027, or by purchasing credits from manufacturers that exceed their target. The standard ends in model year 2032, when 82 percent of new cars delivered to New Mexico must be zero-emissions.

Advanced Clean Trucks establishes similar targets for heavy-duty commercial vehicles — everything from delivery vans to tractor-trailers to dump trucks. The percentage requirements vary by vehicle class, starting at 15-20 percent in model year 2027 and increasing to between 40 and 75 percent in model year 2035. The Low NOx, or Heavy Duty Omnibus, is a separate program that establishes stronger emission standards for new gas and diesel commercial trucks.

A Big Oil-backed right-wing think tank spent thousands on mailers, social media, ads and emails to drive negative comments, but of 100 public comments at the hearings, 80 were in favor of adopting Clean Cars and Trucks, and time ran out with many supporters waiting to speak. More than 1,000 of you submitted written or in-person comments in support of Clean Cars. Commenters shared stories of saving thousands of dollars over years of ownership, and several people described using the 3-cent/KwH overnight rate that New Mexico utilities offer to EV drivers. We highlighted utility rebates of up to $2,500 to buy and install home chargers and up to $25,000 for chargers in multi-unit housing in lower-income neighborhoods.

Check out our fact sheet here for more information on how you can buy an affordable electric vehicle and start saving right away.

We’ll also work to ensure that New Mexico accelerates its recent impressive progress at installing fast charging stations in locations like Socorro, Española, El Rito and Elephant Butte and going from 546 public charging ports statewide to 715 in just the last two months.

Gov. Lujan Grisham has promised to propose significant state tax credits for EV purchases in the legislative session. Please help us advocate for those! Contact camilla.feibelman@sierraclub.org to learn more or join our activist listserv.

New Mexico Adopts Clean Cars