New Mexico Executive Action: Racing to Top on Climate

New Mexico's new governor signed a nation-leading executive order comitting the state to action on climate change.
Governor Lujan Grisham signing her executive order
Credit: NRDC

Governor Lujan Grisham promised swift action to propel New Mexico to leadership on clean energy and climate and today, just weeks into her administration, she is making good on that promise. Last year she climbed a wind tower to show her commitment to clean energy. Now she is ensuring New Mexico will be among the states leading the way to solve the climate crisis. 

After years of stagnation on energy and climate policy, in which New Mexico did little more than hope for high oil prices to drag the economy out of recession, the new governor is taking a much more proactive posture, ensuring New Mexico’s abundant natural resources will be protected and will be the basis of a new clean energy economy.

The Executive Order commits New Mexico to the Paris Climate Accord, requiring swift cuts in carbon pollution- at least 45% by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels. But this action goes much further, putting in motion the regulatory steps that will ensure the state meets that ambitious target and protects New Mexico’s air, land, water and climate. The order calls on state agencies to:

  • Adopt a comprehensive market-based program that sets emission limits to reduce carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gas pollution across New Mexico. New Mexico will join an increasing number of states, including a dozen eastern states that limit carbon from power plants and California that has an economy wide cap. Oregon’s governor has also committed to implementing an economy wide cap.
  • Adopt approaches to reduce greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions from light-duty vehicles sold in state, including Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) emission standards and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) performance standards.  New Mexico will join Colorado as the newest interior states to require clean car standards, pushing back on Trump’s attempt to roll back vehicle pollution safeguards and ensuring New Mexicans will get access to the cleanest, most innovative cars on the market.
  • A statewide, enforceable regulatory framework to secure reductions in oil and gas sector methane emissions and to prevent waste from new and existing sources. New Mexico is the third largest oil and gas producing state in the country and has the largest methane hotspot. This action ensures New Mexico will capture, rather than waste, the methane coming off those wells and pipelines. It protects New Mexico from the dangerous rollbacks being pushed by the Trump administration that cut safeguards on methane pollution.
  • Adopt new building codes. New Mexico’s energy conservation building code is ten years old. The newest model codes save home owners and businesses more than a quarter of the energy used in buildings built under the current code and will put money back in New Mexican’s pockets, and cut pollution by requiring less energy to power new buildings.
  • Collaborate with the Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) to identify transmission corridors needed to transport the state’s renewable electricity to market. (Note: I am a member of the RETA board in my personal capacity) New Mexico is among the states with the best renewable energy potential in the country and is well positioned to sell power its own economy and sell clean energy to other markets. This will ensure the state is moving forward with the infrastructure needed to produce more clean energy. 
  • More to come: An inter-agency climate change task force will develop policies and regulatory strategies to achieve reductions in climate pollution will produce initial recommendations and a progress report on the Governor’s desk by September 15, 2019. This means the state will continue to make progress on cutting carbon through strategies that work for New Mexico. 

Buckle up, I have a feeling Governor Lujan Grisham is just getting started in her efforts to lead the country and protect New Mexico’s land, air and climate. She’s also committed to pass legislation to put in place a nation leading renewable energy standard of at least 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040, among other environmental priorities. The sun is shining in New Mexico! 

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