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It’s High Time For NM’s Governor To Stop The Political Stunts, Get To Work On EVs & Climate Change

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Last year, I had high hopes for the future of EVs in New Mexico. The governor had recently gone to the small town of Socorro to announce a new EV charging station, which was important not only for Socorro, but for everyone that travels along the I-25 corridor without a Tesla (and this was before all of the NACS announcements). Like many other New Mexicans, I was excited to hear that this new station would be open to the public in a few weeks. Even better, the new charging station was supposed to be the first of many the state was going to put in, so things would be getting a lot better!

But, a few days later, someone posted photos of the new location on Plugshare, and instead of the shiny new ChargePoint station we had seen in the press photos, there was just a dirt lot. I looked into it further, and figured out that the governor’s staff had brought a fake charging station with them that day, just for the announcement. It was even set in a fake concrete base with the wheels hidden beneath it, so it wasn’t just there for decoration. It had been made to look real and operational for photos, and they didn’t warn the press that they weren’t dealing with a real station.

Sadly, this station is still not online over a year later. There are finally two ChargePoint stations at the location, and they’re real ones this time, but as of this writing, they’re still not powered on and serving drivers.

This has been the norm for EVs under Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s leadership. The kind words and announcements are always there, but when it comes to actual substance, her actual commitment to EVs seems to be as hollow and fake as the station she brought to Socorro last year.

I don’t say this lightly. I’ve been sitting on this story for almost a year debating whether it would be good for the overall EV movement to drop the dime on the governor about this, but things just keep getting worse. If she made one error of honesty a year ago and otherwise was excellent at helping our rural state get its EV infrastructure together, it wouldn’t have really been news. But, that didn’t happen.

As I pointed out in another recent article, the pace of EV infrastructure buildout in the state has been slow enough to embarrass a glacier (and not a melting one). The state is still in the process of building and deploying charging stations that were paid for by the Dieselgate settlement, and unlike other states, there have been no awards of Infrastructure Bill funds (aka NEVI). When those will happen in anybody’s guess.

I initially chalked it up to New Mexico just being a laid-back state, but then I remembered that Colorado and Utah now have a bunch of Dieselgate-funded charging stations, some of which have been up long enough to have gone down again. It’s not like Utah is some progressive nexus where things like EVs are a high priority, so you’d think that someone who claims to be as progressive as Michelle Lujan-Grisham would figure out how to get the gears of government moving faster like they did in Utah and Colorado.

I know charging stations aren’t as big of a deal to Tesla drivers, largely because Tesla’s Supercharger network didn’t wait for government funds, but under Lujan-Grisham’s leadership, the state still doesn’t do right by Tesla, either. Despite Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature and a Democratic governor in office, the auto dealer’s lobby has managed to keep the state from doing what many other states have done, and allow EV sales direct to the buyer instead of through middlemen.

Tesla managed to work its way around that problem by opening a service and sales center on tribal land near Albuquerque, but contrary to what people who live there think, the whole state isn’t Albuquerque and Santa Fe. There are still many areas of the state that could use Tesla facilities, and there aren’t tribal lands everywhere.

This obviously isn’t the governor’s fault entirely, but it tells us a lot about priorities. I’ve never heard a news alert saying the governor was calling for the legislature to allow Tesla to operate in the state, but I’m always hearing about her other priorities. Instead of doing what it takes to at least come up with a limited exception just for EVs, or an exception for service centers like they did in Texas, it’s just not a priority.

What Has The Governor Been Up To, Then?

If EV charging, EV sales, and everything else EV isn’t a big priority to the governor, then we must ask what she’s been up to. If there’s something else going on that’s more urgent, there’d be a good excuse, right?

But, after seeing her failed leadership for years, a recent “public health emergency” the governor declared showed me that there’s a pattern to her behavior. Instead of doing the right thing and getting the job done when it matters most, Lujan-Grisham is in the habit of distracting progressive voters with low-effort nonsense that gets a lot of attention without actually solving problems. In many ways, this is reminiscent of what politicians like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis do, but with progressives as the marks instead of low information conservatives.

Let’s take a closer look at this latest example (my prior one being the fake charging station).

On Friday (right before the courts closed for the weekend), the governor declared gun violence in Albuquerque a public health emergency, banning the public carry of firearms. But, it was only hours before the big problems with her executive order became apparent. Both the Bernalillo County sheriff and Albuquerque’s police chief announced that they would not be enforcing the governor’s order. They know (as she or someone on her staff most certainly does) that federal law prohibits banning the carry of firearms during emergencies (42 U.S. Code § 5207), and that they’d leave their local governments open to immense legal liability if they arrested or cited anybody. Last year’s NYSRPA v Bruen Supreme Court decision further cements a state’s inability to regulate firearms in the way Lujan-Grisham was attempting to do.

Whether we like those facts or not, they are the facts Lujan-Grisham’s staff had to work with when they drafted their public health order. She even admitted in a press conference that she knew it would likely be killed in court (at no small expense to a poor state). So, she definitely knew that it was a meaningless culture war stunt and not serious public policy.

As usual, Lujan-Grisham could be out working hard to get state government in gear and solve problems citizens face (like climate change and gun violence), but it’s easier to fake it and pull the wool over the eyes of progressive voters with dishonest political stunts. Sadly, it’s too late for the state’s voters to get rid of her, as there’s no recall provision in state law. If she has any shame whatsoever, she should resign from office before everyone figures out who she is and the progressives in the legislature create a recall law just for her.

Featured image: A picture of Lujan-Grisham and others in front of the fake charging station they took to Socorro, from her official Facebook page (fair use, commentary and government work).

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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