“The State of New Mexico will support the 2015 Paris Agreement Goals by joining the U.S. Climate Alliance. New Mexico’s objective is to achieve a statewide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 45 percent by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.”
That policy statement by the government of New Mexico is highlighted in Executive Order 2019-003 signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on January 29, 2019.
At a state “Climate Summit” conference October 25 this year, the governor said she will ask the N.M. Legislature in January to enact those policies into law, putting the state’s economy on a path for “net zero by 2050.”
Among the 19 introductory “whereas” statements in the 2019 climate related executive order are the following.
“Whereas climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across New Mexico and presents growing challenges for human health and safety, quality of life and the rate of economic growth;
“Whereas in a special report authored by the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it was found that the planet has as little as 12 years to take meaningful climate action in order to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees centigrade —the level necessary to forestall dramatic climatic changes that will further imperil our water supplies;
“Whereas carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride are recognized as the six greenhouse gases contributing to climate change;”
“Whereas federal roll-backs of climate protections, waste prevention and clean air rules have made it imperative for New Mexico to act to protect our citizens and our economy from the damages of climate change impacts….”
The importance of developing such a strategy is established by the fact, stated in the document, that “New Mexico produces about 70 percent more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than the national average. New Mexicans produce around 31 tons per person per year, while the average in the United States is 18 tons per person. New Mexico’s high per capita emissions are largely the result of our greenhouse gas-intensive oil and gas industry, which makes up a significant portion of our overall greenhouse gas emissions profile.”
The governor’s executive order established an inter-agency Climate Change Task Force to develop a “New Mexico Climate Strategy.” The conclusions section reads as follows.
“Since Governor Lujan Grisham signed Executive Order 2019-003, bringing New Mexico to the forefront of states taking ambitious climate action, we have made rapid progress towards our goals. New Mexico joined the U.S. Climate Alliance and committed to a statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 45 percent by 2030, as compared to 2005 levels. Legislation signed into law by the governor during the 2019 legislative session demonstrates the seriousness and speed of our work.
“New Mexico’s landmark Energy Transition Act contains one of the most ambitious renewable energy and zero-carbon electricity standards in the United States and establishes worker and community transition funds.
“Our electric utility efficiency standards are stronger than ever. The Climate Change Task Force, which spans all state agencies, has developed an initial suite of ambitious policies to accelerate our transition into a clean energy future.
“These policies, which include a methane emission reduction regulatory framework, an update to the state’s building codes, and electricity transmission corridors to transport our renewable electricity resources to market —among many others detailed in this Climate Strategy report— are already beginning to come to fruition. This is only the beginning of our action.
“Over the next year we will refine our policies, accelerate their implementation, and acquire modeling data to demonstrate the success of our work.”
The inter-agency report includes steps to better control various kinds of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are a component of the industrial sector’s greenhouse gas emissions profile. HFCs are gaseous compounds used as refrigerants in air conditioning systems and refrigerators, blowing agents in foams, propellants in medicinal aerosols, and cleaning agents. HFCs contain carbon, fluorine, hydrogen, and water vapor. Unlike the generation of refrigerants that preceded them (phased out by the 1987 Montreal Protocol), they do not damage the ozone layer.
“However, HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, with a warming potential 1,300 to 3,700 times greater than an equivalent amount of CO2. Some states, including California, Vermont and Washington, have set targets to reduce HFC emissions by as much as 40 percent by 2030. Other states, like New York, Connecticut and Maryland, are developing rules based on California’s regulations.
The N.M. Environment Department (NMED) is writing rules to mitigate HFC emissions and HFC use in New Mexico. These rules will be published as early as 2021.
“The electricity sector has historically been one of New Mexico’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. This sector includes all the electricity generated in the state.
To cut greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector, New Mexico is taking a two-pronged approach. First, we are transitioning from fossil fuel-burning power plants to zero-carbon electricity generation sources.
“We will achieve this result no later than 2045 for large utilities, and 2050 for all electricity generators. Secondly, we are concentrating on increasing energy efficiency in our homes, businesses and industries. Improving energy efficiency not only helps New Mexico reach our goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it has the bonus of saving New Mexicans money on their electricity bills.…
“In 2019, New Mexico passed major legislation to reduce emissions in the electricity sector. The Energy Transition Act (SB 489) sets one of the most ambitious renewable portfolio standards in the United States and provides tools to support New Mexico’s transition to carbon-free electricity.
“Successful implementation of the Energy Transition Act will require a modernized electricity grid. We will need to build new transmission lines and invest in energy storage. Building this infrastructure will ensure that New Mexico’s renewable energy serves New Mexicans in addition to providing statewide economic benefits by selling our excess generation to neighboring states.
“To make sure that our grid modernization is successful, the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) is performing a study to find out what our transmission and storage needs will look like in a decarbonized electric sector. In parallel to RETA’s work, New Mexico was one of four states selected to work with the National Governors Association and the U.S. Department of Energy on state-level grid modernization strategies. This program, which is already underway, provides New Mexico with crucial additional technical assistance, in-state training, and financial assistance in modernizing our grid.
“Businesses, homeowners, and public facilities can also reduce electricity emissions by installing their own renewable energy generation equipment - such as rooftop solar – creating distributed generation.
“We can think of renewable electricity generation as having two different formats: utility-scale generation and distributed generation. Utility-scale generation mostly means large wind, solar, and battery storage facilities developed by and for utilities. Distributed generation means smaller-scale projects, like installing solar panels on a home or business. We call this kind of generation ‘distributed energy resources’ because it is more geographically dispersed than larger, utility-run projects.
“In 2018, New Mexico produced approximately 66.7 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas emissions —an amount equal to approximately 1 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (6,457 MMT). New Mexico’s emissions are a byproduct of the oil and natural gas industry, cars and trucks, electricity production, industrial sources, and agriculture.”