Clean car rules will move ahead despite auto dealers asking for a pause

The Environmental Improvement Board and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board shot down an attempt to delay the implementation of the clean car rule on Friday. The decision came after various auto dealers appealed the rule that the entities adopted in November and asked for a delay pending a court ruling. The EIB voted […]

Clean car rules will move ahead despite auto dealers asking for a pause

The Environmental Improvement Board and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board shot down an attempt to delay the implementation of the clean car rule on Friday.

The decision came after various auto dealers appealed the rule that the entities adopted in November and asked for a delay pending a court ruling.

The EIB voted 4-1 to reject the request to pause implementation pending a court ruling. Meanwhile the air quality control board unanimously rejected the request.

EIB Member William Honker recused himself from the vote, stating that he had not been able to participate in the hearing leading up to the vote. J. Barry Bitzer cast the sole dissenting vote.

Auto dealers argued during a hearing leading up to Friday’s decision that the clean car rule will drive up costs of used vehicles and burden the sellers with new electric vehicles that they would be unable to sell because of low demand.

But proponents of the rule say that it will increase availability of electric vehicles for people who currently are going out of state to buy them and will lead to reduced air pollution from the transportation sector. 

“The new rules will generate millions of dollars in health and economic benefits by transitioning to clean transportation and energy generation,” Ona Porter of Prosperity Works said in a press release following the decision on Friday. “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.”

Additionally, proponents say the rule will give New Mexico an advantage in the transition to electric vehicles. 

“We applaud the Environmental Improvement Board for reinforcing their earlier ruling in support of cleaner air for everyday New Mexicans,” Samantha Kao, the climate and energy director for Conservation Voters New Mexico, said in a statement. “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.”

The rule will not require people to purchase electric vehicles, as some of the opponents have claimed. Nor is it solely focused on electric vehicles. Manufacturers can also meet the requirements by delivering other zero-emission vehicles such as those powered using hydrogen fuel cells or some plug-in electric hybrids.

Nor will it require the dealerships in rural parts of the state to sell higher numbers of electric vehicles.

Instead, the rule requires manufacturers to deliver more new electric vehicles to New Mexico starting in calendar year 2026 and increasing in subsequent years. The bulk of those vehicles could, in theory, be sold at dealerships in urban areas such as Albuquerque or Santa Fe, where there is more demand for electric transportation and more access to charging infrastructure.

Additionally, people who live in the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s service territory may be able to participate in the Whole House Electric Vehicle pilot rate that can significantly reduce the cost to charge a vehicle at home. 

During its deliberations on Friday, the EIB considered factors such as whether the auto dealers would face substantial harm and if they are likely to succeed in getting the rule overturned through the court appeal.

The deliberations took place in closed session and the EIB voted in open session immediately afterward.

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