Climate 411

How combining a just economic transition and strong climate action equals a safer, healthier and more equitable New Mexico

This post was co-authored by James Povijua, Policy Director at Center for Civic Policy

Group of multiethnic engineers in medical protective mask on background of photovoltaic solar panels.

New legislation making its way through the Roundhouse is providing New Mexico with the opportunity to set national precedent when it comes to how we can create a just economic transition, create high-quality jobs, diversify local economies and protect our frontline communities from the worst impacts of climate change.

The Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) establishes nation-leading carbon pollution reduction targets to benefit current and future generations while ensuring that all New Mexicans will benefit from the job and economic growth provided in a clean energy future..

It is no surprise then that the bill has the support of a strong, diverse coalition spanning community-based, environmental, agricultural and labor organizations. Representatives Angelica Rubio and Melanie Stansbury, and Rep. Nathan Small, as well as House Speaker Brian Egolf as well as Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart and Senators Benny Shendo and Carrie Hamblen are sponsoring the bill and championing strong action.

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Posted in Cities and states, Jobs / Read 1 Response

New Mexico election results and state report point to strong path forward on climate

New Mexico state capitol in Santa Fe, NM.

New Mexico state capitol in Santa Fe, NM.

This has been a busy election season in New Mexico with a ballot that included every seat in the state legislature, an important constitutional amendment and a critical presidential contest.

On top of that, the state released its second annual interim climate report, with the key findings highlighting the need for further emissions-cutting action to achieve Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s climate goals.

All in all, it’s a lot to process.

Here are the key takeaways from this busy season that will shape the climate and environmental agenda in the months to come, including a new legislative session.

New Mexicans reward climate champions at the ballot box

The state legislature just got friendlier on critical issues like reducing pollution and protecting the health of local communities. New Mexicans understand how climate change has the state in its crosshairs with increased droughts and wildfires becoming a too common occurrence.

An August 2019 poll found that two-thirds of New Mexico voters want strong limits on statewide carbon emissions, zeroing out such pollution by 2050. This cycle, polling in key, targeted legislative districts found that voters strongly support by a two to one margin action to place limits on carbon emissions and are willing to support candidates that will address climate change through a limit on carbon pollution that declines over time. Voters in these districts delivered, sending key new conservation allies like Katy Duhigg, Carrie Hamblen and Brenda McKenna to the State Senate and Kristina Ortez to the House while protecting champs like Representatives Melanie Stansbury and Matthew McQueen as well.

In all, more than 80% of candidates for the state legislature endorsed by Conservation Voters New Mexico won, which is great news for Governor Lujan Grisham and legislative leadership as they look to go big on codifying climate limits in the next session beginning in January.

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Posted in Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Comments are closed

New Mexico’s opportunity to deliver on its bold climate goals

In southeastern New Mexico, farmers saw temperatures that averaged seven degrees above normal in July. In Santa Fe, a wildfire charred five square miles on the outskirts of town and darkened skies for weeks. And currently, nearly three-fourths of the state is experiencing severe drought, as state officials grapple with plans to ensure critical water supply for cities, farmers, ranchers and more.

This year has been unusually hot and dry for New Mexico. And these grueling conditions put even more strain on New Mexicans, particularly disproportionately impacted populations like Black, Hispanic and tribal communities already reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Heat and drought are becoming more severe and frequent in New Mexico as climate change accelerates. Without strong action to curb climate-warming emissions, the state could see twice as many dangerous heat days and a 70% increase in drought severity.

It is very encouraging then that New Mexico leaders like Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and House Speaker Brian Egolf are moving to confront the crisis head on. In August, Speaker Egolf recognized these threats in a webinar on public health and climate change where he said the NM House of Representatives would make a “comprehensive climate package” that will “set emissions limits” a priority for the next legislative session in 2021.

This legislative package could deliver meaningful climate action in New Mexico, if it includes key elements to codify pollution reduction targets, empower environmental regulators to meet them and protect environmental justice communities.

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