By Mona Blaber, Chapter communications
From the Spring 2022 newsletter
As more Americans look for ways to free ourselves from Big Oil profiteering and rising gas prices, New Mexico may soon help us leave the gas pump behind for cleaner air and a safer climate.
In May, New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board considers Advanced Clean Cars standards that would require automakers to offer and sell increasing numbers of zero-emission vehicles, like electric vehicles, in New Mexico. If the board approves the proposal from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Environment Department, New Mexicans will see many more clean cars in dealerships and on the road, and residents will breathe dramatically healthier air.
A recent American Lung Association report found that cleaner cars go beyond being a critical tool in solving the urgent climate crisis: They will also save New Mexicans an estimated $20 billion by 2050 and improve community health significantly.
In New Mexico, the ALA report found that transitioning to zero-emission vehicles and electricity would result in:
- 273 avoided deaths
- 7,380 avoided asthma attacks
- 32,000 avoided lost workdays
- $3 billion in public health benefits.
If you’ve recently shopped for an electric vehicle, you may have noticed that your options in New Mexico are sparse. They may not be available on lots, salespeople are not educated about them, and often dealers would prefer to sell cars with traditional combustion engines because EVs don’t require much maintenance from service departments.
While EVs save consumers thousands of dollars in maintenance and operation costs, up-front prices are sometimes still higher than gas-fueled cars. New Mexico must ensure that low-income families have the opportunity to purchase electric vehicles. Federal credits for EV purchases help, as does a 2020 New Mexico law that is, through utilities, providing rebates that cover most of the cost to install home fast chargers, with rebates increasing for lower-income residents. More public charging stations are already planned around the state. The last piece of the puzzle is state credits for EV purchases.
The state should also move as quickly as possible to adopt Clean Truck standards to address the disproportionate air and climate pollution produced by heavy-duty vehicles. Making clean cars and trucks accessible and affordable can put us on the fast lane to better health, a safer climate and leaving our dangerous and expensive reliance on Big Oil in the dust.
EV charging & home rebates
In 2022, you should start seeing public chargers for electric vehicles along New Mexico roads across the state, and you could be eligible for rebates to install a fast EV charger in your garage, thanks to “transportation-electrification plans” recently passed by the Public Regulation Commission. Recent New Mexico legislation requires PNM, El Paso Electric and SPS to create “transportation electrification” plans to make driving EVs more accessible. Sierra Club joined Earthjustice, Prosperity Works and Coalition for Clean, Affordable Energy in advocating for equitable incentives, with rebates to upgrade home electrical and install fast EV chargers ranging from $500 to $2,000 for lower-income residents (rebates vary by service territory).
Your engagement made these plans better. When ChargePoint didn’t want to put traditional credit-card readers on its public chargers, public comments convinced commissioners to require them. When PNM’s plan required residents to have a wireless Internet connection in order to qualify for the installation rebate, you successfully urged commissioners to rehear the case and allow rebates for low-income residents without WiFi.
Hundreds of you have sent comments urging the state to implement Advanced Clean Cars standards — and Clean Truck Standards — urgently and offer an early-adoption credit to get automakers sending electric vehicles to New Mexico before they are legally required. Write to email@example.com to be added to our action listserv.
The coalition also asked that the state commit in writing to adopting California’s updated standards as soon as possible. We’ll keep you updated!
The transportation sector is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico, behind oil and gas but ahead of electricity generation. Advanced Clean Car Standards, which limit greenhouse gas and other pollutants from cars and light-duty trucks and require a percentage of new-vehicles sales in New Mexico to be zero-emission, are among the most impactful steps New Mexico can take to reduce its contribution to the climate crisis.
Take action for Clean Cars
Go to addup.sierraclub.org/campaigns/clean-cars-nm or scan the QR code at left with your phone to urge the EIB to adopt Advanced Clean Cars standards for New Mexico.
Featured image from Pixabay.