Clean fuel standard is good for economy and environment

There is a common misperception improving our environment comes at the cost of our economic well-being. It simply isn’t true. We introduced the Clean Fuel Standard Act, Senate Bill 11, to help us advance many of our state’s ambitions: diversifying our economy, creating new jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change.

SB 11 creates a statewide clean fuel standard aimed at reducing emissions from our transportation sector — the second largest greenhouse gas-emitter in the state — by changing the fuels available, not how New Mexicans do things.

By requiring fuel providers that refine, blend, make or import fuel used in New Mexico to gradually reduce the carbon intensity of the transportation fuel itself, we can reduce emissions by 4.7 million metric tons in carbon dioxide equivalent by 2040. That’s like taking 44,000 cars off the road every year for 15 years. A clean fuel standard would not apply to retail gas stations or cause cost increases at the pump.

A clean fuel standard program also invites economic innovation through a voluntary, market-based credit program. The credit program monetizes greenhouse gas emission reductions and allows businesses who want to invest in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to generate credits. Simply put, one credit generated is equal to one metric ton of carbon dioxide reduced. Credits are then sold to fuel providers whose fuels do not meet the standard.

The possibilities here are nearly endless: utilities could generate credits through sequestering greenhouse gas emissions; marginal oil and gas wells could generate hydrogen fuel and electricity instead of venting or flaring; farmers and ranchers could harness gases created from their operations for sale to an alternative fuel manufacturer or tap into the power of soil sequestration; municipalities could use wasted landfill and wastewater treatment gas to power electric vehicle charging stations, and the list goes on and on. A report by Adelante Consulting LLC found a clean fuel standard in New Mexico would result in $46.3 million in annual investments in decarbonization projects and significant job growth in the clean energy industry. These are living-wage jobs for New Mexico families.

We’re already hearing interest from innovative companies that want SB 11 to pass, incentivizing them to expand their operations to or within New Mexico. We would join just two other states, Oregon and California, in offering valuable credits generated by emissions-reducing technology, getting ahead of a slew of other states currently considering a clean fuel standard. Getting in on the ground floor with a clean fuel standard program would entice new businesses to our state — making New Mexico more competitive than our neighbors.

But the benefits of a clean fuel standard extend beyond the economic. We also know we must do more to reduce our emissions to combat climate change and meet the goals outlined by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The 2020 Climate Change Task Force report recently released by the governor shows our current and proposed climate policies will make a dent in greenhouse gas emissions, but the state must take further action to reach its science-based goal of a 45% emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030. Plus, seven New Mexico counties are already facing air pollution nearing levels considered unhealthy by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Doña Ana, Eddy, Lea, Sandoval, San Juan and Valencia. The more than 580,000 people that call these counties home deserve to breathe clean air, and we have a responsibility to do what we can to help.

Call your legislators today and ask them to support SB 11. The New Mexico Clean Fuel Standard Act is an opportunity to move our economy in a cleaner direction, creating new jobs and encouraging innovation in new and existing industries. Let’s demonstrate the answer to environment and economy is not either/or; it’s both.

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