January 29, 2021

Climate Solutions Act would reduce emissions statewide

A group of Democratic legislators filed a proposal aimed at lowering the state’s carbon footprint and reducing emissions across sectors. Albuquerque Democratic Rep. Melanie Stansbury is the sponsor of HB 9, with Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces, and Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, cosponsoring. 

The Climate Solutions Act would establish a statewide target of a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and direct state agencies to develop rules to realize those targets. It would also establish a Climate Leadership Council, which would be administratively attached to the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. 

The council would be responsible for developing a statewide framework for addressing climate change and developing a “sustainable” economy, including reaching a “net-zero carbon footprint” by 2050. 

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“The reason why this bill is so significant is that it addresses climate change from really three angles,” Stansbury said. 

First, she said, “it really sets our entire economy on to a carbon-free pathway” by setting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. 

Second, it provides support to communities in the state most impacted by climate change. That support would include providing resources, tools and research to “help communities actually do planning and preparation and to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change,” she said.

Third, the bill addresses the state’s need to diversify the economy away from fossil fuels, she said. 

“It takes recommendations that came from a year long process involving a workforce development study and a number of organizations across the state to look at how do we help our economy prepare for a more sustainable and resilient future,” Stansbury said. “It’s really focused with an equity lens on how do we empower and support our communities to thrive, to build a more resilient future, to control their own destinies, and to do so in a way that addresses historic harms.”

Oriana Sandoval, CEO of the Center for Civic Policy nonprofit, which worked on the bill, said addressing climate change along with social, racial and economic justice is “trailblazing” policy. 

“We know that these have to go together in order to really forge a long term sustainable and just economy and path forward for New Mexico that gets us out of this cycle of dependency on extractive industries and communities across the state being very vulnerable to climate change, as well as to the economic boom and bust cycles,” Sandoval said. 

The study, conducted by the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions, was “informed by close to 2,000 people in rural New Mexico and most of whom are in those impacted communities or employed by gas and oil,” Sandoval said. 

“We’re thrilled that we were able to be codifying a lot of the recommendations that came from this study” into the legislation, she said. 

“New Mexico is really on the forefront and can be a model for other states in terms of using a framework of economic justice and racial justice and clean energy and climate justice,” Sandoval said. 

The bill was referred to the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.