Press Release: New Mexico Board Approves State Program to Reduce Carbon Pollution

December 2010

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

Mariel Nanasi, Sr. Policy Advisor, New Energy Economy, (505) 469-4060

New Mexico Board Approves State Program to Reduce Carbon Pollution

Measure to strengthen state’s economy, create jobs

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) voted today to adopt a petition by New Energy Economy (NEE), creating a new
state carbon pollution reduction program that will lead the rest of the nation in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and create living-wage jobs for New Mexicans.

The new state pollution limit, approved by a 4-1 vote, will require the state’s largest polluters to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels starting in 2013. The EIB ruled to amend the effective date, pushing it back one year to 2013. The approval is the culmination of a two-year petition process started by NEE, a New Mexico-based nonprofit organization.

NEE
 Senior Policy Advisor Mariel Nanasi said the rule is designed to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible to meet the carbon reduction goals, but she said what’s more important is what the rule means for New Mexico’s economy.

“This new policy makes New Mexico the nation’s leader in carbon pollution reduction while at the same time stimulating our economy and creating jobs for New Mexico families and communities,” Nanasi said. “The board understands that the same technologies that can reduce carbon pollution can also make New Mexico more competitive in the clean energy economy, which means more long-term, well-paying jobs for New Mexicans.”

New Mexico, second in the nation for solar energy potential and 12th for wind power potential, is well positioned to become a keystone in the Southwest’s clean energy economy.

“New Mexico has world-class solar and wind resources along with the available workforce and high-tech training programs necessary to make it happen,” said Randy Sadewic, founder and president of employee-owned Positive Energy, New Mexico’s leading installer of solar panels.

Sadewic’s firm runs offices in Albuquerque, Taos, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, and is seeing tremendous growth in clean energy systems. But he says that growth is dependent on policies that level the playing field for all energy sources. Otherwise, the growth could simply stop.

Local job creation is a top priority for Luna Community College Academic Director Andrew Feldman, who heads up a sustainable energy program that is seeing growing student interest each year. The new carbon rules will not only boost enrollment in clean energy programs around the state, he said, but will create good, local jobs—jobs that will benefit all New Mexicans.

“When our students hit the job market, they’ll have many more opportunities to put their knowledge and skills to work. They’ll make our homes and businesses more efficient, saving us money on power bills, and they’ll make our energy supply cleaner, more diverse and more independent, making us healthier and more secure,” Feldman said.

Background

The Rules:

  • The carbon reduction program apply to the states largest polluters, stationary sources that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide—primarily, electrical generating power plants, refineries, and natural gas processing and compression facilities.
  • The program calls for 3 percent carbon pollution reductions annually from 2010 levels.
  • The program will take effect in 2013 and will end in 2020, or sooner if a national or regional carbon pollution reduction program involving New Mexico is implemented.
  • The rules include provisions to keep emitters’ costs down:
  • An annual limit on how much emitters will have to spend to comply
  • Banking, allowing emitters to hold onto credits for future use
  • An “off ramp” if businesses can show that the rules will prove detrimental to their economic viability
  • The rule also contains provisions for a reevaluation in 2014.

The rules were first proposed in December 2008, when New Mexico Environmental Law Centerfiled a petition with the EIB on behalf of New Energy Economy, asking the board to reduce carbon emissions. New Energy Economy based its petition on the assertion that carbon pollution constitutes “air pollution” and threatens the health of people and natural resources, under the Air Quality Control Act. Further, the petition requested the reduction of carbon pollution pursuant to the board’s authority to abate and prevent nuisances under the Environmental Improvement Act.

New Mexico’s largest utility, PNM Resources, and the oil and gas industries sued to prevent New Energy Economy’s petition from being heard by the EIB, but the New Mexico Supreme Court in an unprecedented unanimous decision overruled a lower court injunction, allowing the process to go forward.

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New Energy Economy
(505) 470-8686

www.newenergyeconomy.org

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