An effort to create a statewide clean fuel standard as part of a larger plan to reduce New Mexico’s carbon footprint and spur investment in a renewable energy economy ran out of gas during the 60-day legislative session earlier this year.
While the bill passed the state Senate in a party line vote, it died in the House of Representatives as lawmakers focused on other pieces of legislation.
Expect the proposal to make a comeback in 2022.
Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes told lawmakers on Monday that a clean fuel standard would “definitely” be a legislative priority next year.
“We really want to cross the finish line in the next session,” she told a meeting of the Committee on Economic Development and Policy. âThe governor has made a commitment to call him up. “
The proposal, which would have required fuel producers and importers to gradually reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuel, raised concerns that it would lead to higher gas prices for consumers – a concern that persists today.
“There is no free lunch,” said Paul Gessing, chairman of the Rio Grande Foundation, an Albuquerque-based free market think tank that opposed Senate Bill 11 during the session. legislative. âThere are going to be additional costs and inevitably these will be passed on to the consumer. It’s kind of economy 101.
The bill aimed to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels through a market-based credit program. This did not apply to fuel retailers like gas stations.
âI just think there are going to be huge costs for motorists,â Gessing said. âThere are going to be huge challenges in just providing the fuel process the way the state wants it to be treated. It will be a very problematic situation.
The state’s economic development department, which partnered with the Environment Department to pass the bill, said the impact on consumers at the pumps was “negligible” in two other states that have adopted a clean fuel standard.
âOregon and California have reported no discernible impact on retail prices,â according to a PowerPoint presentation from the department.
The ministry and supporters of the bill said such a standard would go a long way in tackling climate change. In New Mexico, the transportation sector is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind the oil and gas industry.
While a clean fuel standard is expected to have a positive impact on the environment and public health, it should also stimulate the growth of the state’s economy.
âWhen you look at the data from the other two states that have adopted a low carbon fuel standard, California and Oregon, you see that the jobs and the amount of infrastructure that has been invested in those states have really increased, âKeyes said.
“I didn’t understand the gravity of it until we presented this and [Environment Secretary James Kenney] and I was getting phone calls from so many big companies in the energy industry who wanted to put infrastructure in New Mexico if that happened, âshe added. âSo, this is something that can really help communities that have traditionally relied on coal to ease the transition to something like hydrogen. It will be a high priority for us to come. “
Keyes noted that major auto companies, such as Toyota, Honda, BMW and Volvo, are committed to using clean fuel technology. She said GM had announced plans to become carbon neutral by 2040 and that Boeing Co. would start delivering commercial jets capable of flying 100 percent biofuel by the end of the decade.
âThis is the future,â Keyes said. “If we put the infrastructure [and legislation] in place right now, I think we’re going to be aligning ourselves with a lot of incentives that could potentially be applied at the federal level as well. “
Bruce Krasnow, spokesperson for the Department of Economic Development, said many companies are paying attention to investments in clean fuels and “are trying to find places where this industry is thriving.”
âIf we can provide a place where they can get these economic credits to do the right thing, New Mexico can really benefit from it and be ahead of the other states that are also trying to attract these businesses,â he said. he declares. âIn fact, if there is a national standard that is ultimately implemented by the Biden administration, New Mexico would have a head start in creating a place where businesses can go and do this innovation, trying these technologies, creating jobs and hiring. people.”
Follow Daniel J. ChacÃ³n on Twitter @danieljchacon.