This spring, we witnessed catastrophic wildfires in northern New Mexico that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses and displaced tens of thousands of residents as climate change induced drought continues to deepen. This is just one reminder of many for us as New Mexicans that reinforces the urgency to pass the sweeping policy changes needed to meaningfully address the climate crisis. Climate change is already here, but reducing climate pollution today will provide tangible benefits within our lifetimes and give future generations the best chance to inherit a stable climate.
In addition to the ticking clock on climate, we are also running up against an increasingly limited political window. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has had the opportunity to sign some of the most ambitious climate policy that New Mexico has ever seen, positioning us as a national clean energy leader. 2022 represents the final year of her first term, and should she win a second, that leaves only 4 years to continue to make progress with her bold climate commitments.
In 2019, the passage of the Energy Transition Act (ETA) guaranteed that the electricity generation sector would not contribute to carbon emissions by 2045. But that’s only one part of the puzzle. Emissions from heavy industries (such as cement manufacturing), transportation, and oil and gas production don’t fall under the ETA, and therefore lack a comprehensive statutory emission reduction target. The next step for New Mexico is to pass legislation that views all sectors of the state’s economy as a whole, and then applies a target for reductions for all of them together.
In October 2021, at a climate summit organized by Speaker Brian Egolf, the Governor made an announcement – she would issue a legislative message for the 2022 short session to consider a bill to establish greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets for the entire state. It would codify the reductions target she directed in her 2019 Executive Order 003 of a 50% statewide reduction (compared to 2005 emissions) by 2030, and expand that to include a “net zero” 100% reduction by 2050. “Net zero” has been a historically fraught concept because it can allow polluters to “offset” their pollution by purchasing credits or other mechanisms, such as carbon sequestration, that allow them to not actually reduce their emissions.
The bill, titled HB 6: The Clean Future Act, proposed a 10% cap on the use of offsets, ensuring that at least 90% of the reductions targets would be satisfied with actual reductions. Importantly, the bill also would have given the Environment Department the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from any source. There are many details about how to get to these benchmarks that were not in HB 6 at all, and will need to be determined in future legislation. Questions like: How quickly do we achieve these reductions across sectors? What sort of community protections and consultation will be involved? What support will we offer working people and communities impacted by this transition? These are questions we’re working to answer now, and that will form the bulk of legislation in 2023.
Given the time constraints of this year’s short 30 day session, and a significant lobby effort by the oil and gas industry (who spent over $250,000 in advertising to defeat HB 6) the bill stalled out in the House of Representatives. This effort is far from over, however. The Governor made a commitment to setting New Mexico on course to achieve these reductions, and we intend to help her follow through. The process for developing comprehensive climate legislation for 2023 has already begun. There are months of stakeholder outreach, policy research and negotiation, and consensus building ahead of us. We hope you’ll stand with us to get this transformational policy through the legislature and on to the Governor’s desk for signature.
Smoke billowing from the Calf Canyon Hermits Peak fire in New Mexico.
Credit: William Fullerton
Know the Score > Take Action
Say ‘thanks’ … or, ‘no thanks’!
Tell your Legislators that you ‘know the score’
One of the best ways to influence the voting records of your elected officials is to communicate regularly with them. If your legislators scored well, it’s important to thank them and to support them. If you feel you weren’t well-represented by your legislators’ votes, it’s important to hold them accountable by letting them know what you think about their votes. The Scorecard is your key to staying informed on your legislators votes and getting in touch with them.
Communicate with the Governor and your Legislators
Whether you’re congratulating them on their score or expressing your disappointment, be direct, courteous and polite.
The most important part is letting them know that you are paying close attention to how they vote or, in the case of the Governor, what actions she takes on legislation that affects our air, land, and water.
Calling your legislator directly and sending letters through regular mail remain by far the most effective ways to communicate with your legislators.
The Governor and Lieutenant Governor can always be contacted at the State Capitol. Except during the legislative session, state legislators should be contacted in their home districts. You can get their contact information by clicking on their name on the current Legislators page.