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New Mexico Legislators to Hear Climate Solutions Act

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Experts have ranked New Mexico second in the nation for solar potential, and sixth for wind-power potential. (news.unm.edu)
Experts have ranked New Mexico second in the nation for solar potential, and sixth for wind-power potential. (news.unm.edu)
February 17, 2021

SANTA FE, N.M. - Supporters of New Mexico's Climate Solutions Act, to be heard at the Roundhouse this week, say it could set a national precedent with its emphasis on creating a "just" economic transition to clean energy.

Noah Long, director of the West's Climate and Clean Energy Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the bill would ensure the state curbs greenhouse-gas emissions in line with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's executive order that calls for a climate-conscious future that protects people, natural resources and the state's cultural heritage while creating jobs.

"The governor has turned the ship," he said, "but we would need to make sure that we stay on course for the next 10 and 20 and 30 years - all the way to a net-zero emissions economy."

In 2019, New Mexico signed off on the landmark Energy Transition Act. It raises the state's overall Renewable Portfolio Standard target to 100% of electricity sales from carbon-free generation by 2045 -- up from the previous target of 20% renewable power generation by 2020. The new bill would expand on that legislation by directing the state's Environment Department to ensure economy-side greenhouse-gas reduction goals are met.

Grant County community organizer Nena Benavidez said her family has a long history of working in the state's mining industry, but she nonetheless supports the Climate Solutions Act.

"I 100% support mining," she said, "but I also 100% support the idea that we need to look forward to the future."

Benavidez is adamant that her roots in the mining area of southern New Mexico are compatible with moving ahead with a new approach to climate solutions based on clean energy. She said her community has been polarized, with people defined as either supportive of mining - or against it.

"You're either an environmentalist or you support the mine, and I don't see it that way," she said. "I know we can be both. We can have responsible mining, we can build the bridge to a new diversified economy that's 'just' for all."

The legislation would establish a Climate Leadership Council under the state's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The council would be responsible for developing a statewide framework to address climate change in order to reach a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM