NM Air Quality Decision-Makers Vote to Continue New Clean Car Standards To Deliver Major Benefits to New Mexicans

Franchise dealerships attempt to “stay” the standards, refuse benefits to New Mexicans

Contact: (NRDC) Jake Thompson, jthompson@nrdc.org, 301-602-3627
(WRA) James Quirk, james.quirk@westernresources.org, 908-902-3177

NEW MEXICO – The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) voted 4-1 today to reject a challenge to newly enacted clean car standards. The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board also voted 5-0 today to reject the challenge. These standards will bring more electric vehicles to the state and directly benefit New Mexicans. According to the environmental, social justice, and business groups that make up the NM Clean Air coalition, these benefits include lower transportation costs, cleaner air, and less extreme weather.

The coalition made this comment:

“The EIB’s decision to keep the clean cars standards on the road delivers a triple win for New Mexicans’ health, economy, and clean driving options. These standards are poised to slash harmful tailpipe pollution and save lives as they make New Mexico households, businesses, and economy less tethered to volatile and costly gasoline that damages our climate. We’re grateful that the board listened to New Mexicans across the state who want cleaner air, reduced transportation costs and a clean energy future.”

The EIB held a public hearing on March 22nd at the New Mexico State Capitol Building on a motion from auto dealers seeking a stay of the Advanced Clean Car II standards adopted last year. A stay would have suspended the standards. 

The NM Clean Air Coalition defended the rules from the challenge and kept the clean car standards in place. 

“The new rules will generate millions of dollars in health and economic benefits by transitioning to clean transportation and energy generation,” noted Ona Porter of Prosperity Works. “Transportation is the second highest climate-polluting sector in the state, behind oil and gas extraction, so bringing more zero-emission vehicles to the state can cut tailpipe pollution at the source.”

The clean car standards were adopted on November 16, 2023, after a robust 4-day joint public hearing, multiple stakeholder meetings, and three public meetings. The EIB and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board (AQCB) adopted Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Truck standards. The truck standards are not at issue in the EIB proceeding.

During last fall’s public hearing, the boards heard overwhelming support for the standards, including more than 1,200 written public comments in support and nearly 80 verbal statements of support compared to less than 20 in opposition.  

The clean car standards require that starting in 2026, 43% of all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks shipped to New Mexico auto dealerships by national auto manufacturers must be zero-emission vehicles.

Federal investments in New Mexico are bringing more chargers to the state along interstates, rural and Tribal highways and providing tax incentives of up to $7,500 to make EVs more affordable at the point of sale. A new state EV tax credit makes buying new or used clean vehicles even easier and more affordable. 

Backers of the clean car standards made these additional comments:

“New Mexico remains on the road toward an efficient, affordable, and clean transportation future,” says Alex Eubanks, New Mexico State Representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We look forward to working with policymakers, vehicle manufacturers, dealers, electric utilities, commercial fleets, and residents across the state to make the New Mexico Advanced Clean Cars standards successful.” 

“The Lujan Grisham administration is listening to New Mexicans even if auto dealers are not. After an extensive expert and evidence-based hearing in the fall and customer after customer saying they’re not finding the EVs they want in the state, the rules passed. Then the legislature passed both EV tax credits and clean transportation fuel standards to support the drive toward electrification, and the dealers still aren’t doing what their customers want.  Thankfully, the Environmental Improvement Board did,” says Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Director.

“Thank you to the Environmental Improvement Board for the integrity of your leadership in upholding the Advanced Clean Vehicle Standards which move us forward on critical measures of climate responsibility, public health, and access to cleaner energy for all New Mexicans,” says Rev. Clara Sims, New Mexico & El Paso Region Interfaith Power & Light, Assistant Executive Director. 

“We applaud the Environmental Improvement Board for reinforcing their earlier ruling in support of cleaner air for everyday New Mexicans. The major automakers have repeatedly committed to all new cars being electric by the mid-2030s. The clean cars rules let New Mexicans get a jump start on vehicle competition, lower costs and healthier air for their communities,” says Samantha Kao, Conservation Voters New Mexico Climate & Energy Director.

“The Environmental Improvement Board’s decision to uphold these critically important rules is a big win for the future of New Mexico’s climate and air,” says Aaron Kressig, transportation electrification manager at WRA. “The New Mexico Clean Cars standards are a massive step forward in the state’s efforts to address climate change and improve air quality. These standards will save drivers money at the gas pump, increase the availability of zero-emission vehicles for consumers to purchase, and promote equitable access to these vehicles for all New Mexicans.” 

“Keeping these vital clean car standards on the road will give New Mexicans cleaner air to breathe and more clean vehicles to drive, new job opportunities and lower transportation costs, and economic growth as the state moves away from unhealthy and costly fossil fuels,” says Kathy Harris, Director, Clean Vehicles at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The Environmental Improvement Board stood up for a clean energy future benefitting all New Mexicans.”

“350 New Mexico congratulates the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board on their decision to keep in place the newly enacted clean car standards,” says Tom Solomon, co-coordinator of 350 New Mexico. “These will help New Mexicans access the zero-pollution vehicles they are demanding but cannot yet find on car dealer lots. EVs eliminate both climate pollution and the public health poisons in tailpipe exhaust, on top of the joy of driving one. Well done.” 


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