New Mexico Adopts Crucial Package to Clean up Cars & Trucks

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Adoption of the Advanced Clean Cars II, Advanced Clean Trucks, and Heavy-Duty Low NOx standards will provide significant benefits to New Mexico

After a marathon four-day hearing, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board’s adopted three major standards that will provide significant climate, public health, air quality, and economic benefits to New Mexico.The Board’s adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II), Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT), and the Heavy-Duty Low NOx standards—collectively “the Standards.” The Standards will increase the number of zero-emission trucks and cars on New Mexico’s roads, while also reducing toxic pollution coming from the tailpipes of gasoline and diesel vehicles.Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state and a leading source of toxic air pollution. Transitioning to clean, electric vehicles is a key solution to cutting these emissions. The Standards will:

  • Keep up with consumer demand and expand resident’s options for clean vehicle models
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dangerous air pollution like nitrogen oxide (NOx)
  • Clean up the commercial trucks driving through our neighborhoods
  • Reduce the cost of vehicle ownership and expand the clean economy locally
  • Make the electricity grid more reliable and lower utility bills for everyone, even households without an electric vehicle
  • Signal to auto manufacturers that clean vehicles are here to stay.

As adopted, the ACC II policy requires an increasing number of new clean cars to be sold in the state each year, until 82% of new vehicles sold in the state are electric or plug-in hybrid by 2032. Advocates, including NRDC, had been pushing for a complete version of the program, which reaches 100% of new vehicles sold by 2035, as adopted by 8 other states to-date.

As adopted, the ACT establishes annual zero-emission truck sale requirements that vary by vehicle type and gradually increase over time, leaving time for technologies to continue to improve, supporting infrastructure to mature, and vehicle prices to decline. The Low NOx standards require manufacturers to cut the emissions of diesel trucks by 90% by 2027, update engine testing and durability, and extend engine warranties to ensure that harmful emissions are regulated in the vehicles being sold in the state.

ACT and HDO will deliver more than $3.3 billion in total benefits between 2020 and 2050. That includes about $600 million in health benefits, including 51 avoided premature deaths and 28,065 avoided respiratory illnesses. Annual greenhouse gas emissions from New Mexico’s heavy-duty fleet will fall 39% by 2050.

Together, the clean car and truck standards will provide over $43 billion in net societal benefits to New Mexicans, including over 69,000 reduced health complications.

New Mexico is Ready for Clean Cars

New Mexicans are increasingly purchasing zero-emission vehicles. In the first half of 2023, sales in New Mexico were at 4.85% new sales, up from 4.17% for the whole of 2022. State programs and utilities are working to build a robust network of charging stations to keep pace, including in public spaces, fast charging for on-the-go, and through rebates for home charger installation.

The new Standards will ensure that New Mexico residents have access to even more models of EVs to meet everyone’s needs, from 4WD to pickup trucks, minivans, and compact affordable models, as well as cleaner trucks and buses on the roads.

These standards build upon substantial zero-emission investments that New Mexico has seen over the past year, driven by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in 2022. The state is one of 21 states with at least 5 major clean energy projects announced since the bill’s passage, and companies in the electric vehicle and battery sector have announced $130 million in investments so far according to E2’s tracking.

E2’s 2023 Clean Jobs New Mexico factsheet shows New Mexico ranks among the top 5 fastest-growing states for clean energy jobs for the second straight year, to support nearly 12,700 workers or about 1 out of every 5 energy jobs in the state. Job growth was driven by the clean vehicle jobs sector, which now employs about 1,000 workers and has seen a 32 percent increase in jobs over the last two years.The report shows that clean vehicles and clean vehicle standards will be a boon to New Mexico’s economy. With the state’s gas and diesel vehicle sector shedding jobs, this smart economic policy embraces New Mexico’s booming clean vehicle sector, so it can compete with the rest of the country for future automaker investments and projects and expand jobs in the state.New Mexico took an important step today by adopting new Clean Car and Truck standards that will help to provide significant benefits to the state and its residents, and we thank and the Boards for paving the way towards a clean vehicle future. Now, we look towards the other five states that currently have ongoing Clean Cars rulemaking processes—Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine—and Maryland, who will adopt the ACT standards this year.

Alexis Mena, Senior Advocate, Southwest, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Kathy Harris, Senior Advocate, Clean Vehicles and Fuels, Climate & Clean Energy Program, Guillermo A. Ortiz,  Advocate, Clean Vehicles, Climate & Clean Energy Program, This blog was co-authored by Susan Nedell, E2 Mountain West Advocate.

Originally published on the NRDC Expert Blog.

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