Conflicting views over the future of electric vehicles in New Mexico emerged during yesterday’s Water and Natural Resources Committee meeting, in advance of public hearings the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board will hold mid-month on Advanced Clean Car/Truck Rules. Yesterday’s hearing included an overview of those rules from Michelle Miano, director of the Environmental Protection Division. Among other provisions, the rules would require automobile manufacturers to scale up yearly starting in 2027 the percentage of zero-emission vehicles delivered to the state, starting at 43% and leading up to 82% by 2032.
“A very important part to understand about this rule is this rule is not being proposed in a vacuum,” Miano told lawmakers yesterday. “There are many different kinds of ways that transportation is being thought about in New Mexico, and different ways that we can reduce our emissions that result from transportation.”
Miano’s presentation also took stock of such emissions in New Mexico, which exceed federal and state requirements in several counties. For instance, Santa Fe County’s 0.067 ppm (ozone levels in parts per million) in 2022 was below the federal standard of 0.070 ppm, but above the state requirement of 0.066 ppm.
Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke provided a preview of the EV tax credits Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced last month she plans to pursue in January’s legislative session.
The governor vetoed such credits during the last session, sparking criticism from environmental groups. The governor’s proposal, Clarke said, has “much in common” with previous proposals, but also will propose “new concepts…We’re looking at proposing both personal income tax and corporate income tax credits that would allow both individuals and businesses to partake in the personal income tax credit,” she said. “There would be provisions for LLCs and partnerships as well to be able to take advantage of these credits. So, it’s not just residential but potentially commercial.” The administration also is looking at credits for both new and used vehicles, she said, as well as the possibility of scaled credits for hybrids.
One of the environmental leaders who issued criticisms of the governor’s vetoes last spring, Camilla Feibelman, director of the Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter, yesterday presented environmental and economic reasons backing the EV transition—and the governor’s proposal therein. “We agree with the governor we’ve got to do this bigger, better and faster and are really excited to support her initiative,” Feibelman said. Her presentation presented EV growth in New Mexico thus far as “exponential,” with EVs reaching 5.5% of sales last December. “The question for New Mexico is whether we are a leader or a laggard,” the Sierra Club’s presentation notes. “If we lead the way, we can improve air quality and public health outcomes sooner, and reap the economic benefits sooner.”
But industry representatives, along with lawmakers, expressed concerns about the EV transition. Carlos Garcia from Garcia Automative Group and a member of the New Mexico Auto Dealers Association said “speaking for my business and my family, we recognize that the switch to zero carbon vehicles is the future. We’re committed to it as a dealer body and our family too.” That said, the percentages in the Advanced Clean Car Rules are “just too much too fast for New Mexico” and not economically feasible, he said.
State Rep. Jack Chatfield, R-Mosquero, said he was also concerned his constituents would simply drive three hours to Amarillo, Texas to purchase new gas cars there should they be less available in New Mexico. “I think that hurts our state economically; I think it hurts our taxes,” Chatfield said. “And…I think if electric vehicles are truly better, if they’re truly superior, that we will be led into this and not forced.”