HB 6 Clean Future Act

Summary: The Clean Future Act sets ambitious requirements of a 50% reduction of climate pollution in New Mexico by 2030 and at least 90% by 2050, and it includes an array of terminology to define what emissions are being tracked and who and when reports must be submitted to document progress. Given that New Mexico’s carbon emissions have increased since the 2005 baseline, this would represent a 64% reduction from current levels by 2030.

2.8.22 UPDATE: A bill substitute has been introduced. We have worked with Sierra Club and YUCCA (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action) to better understand the implications of the bill substitute. The following points should be used to craft emails, calls, and public comment, as they directly respond to the bill substitute. We now cautiously support HB 6 but hope to see more amendments.

We have always supported the goals of HB6 — to require reporting on emissions levels in NM. We initially opposed the bill and published a list of amendments we felt were needed. We applaud the sponsors who have responded to calls from environmental groups and Retake seeking amendments. While we do not feel the substitute bill has gone far enough, we are wary that in seeking the perfect, we may become the enemy of the good. When we heard of NM Oil & Gas’s ad campaign against the bill, we became uncomfortable with our opposition being aligned with NMOGA and have decided to support HB 6 substitute bill while still calling for the following changes:

  • Remove all language related to sequestration and offset from the bill. We concur with YUCCA that all reference to carbon sequestration and offsets must be removed. Together they allow the state and the fossil-fuel industry to misrepresent emission progress with what we view as fanciful accounting tricks that assume carbon sequestration technology will work, which has not been demonstrated anywhere in the US despite billions invested and stranded assets the only outcome.
  • Require reporting of downstream emissions resulting from use of exported NM gas and oil. We also feel the bill should require reporting on downstream Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions resulting from NM gas and oil exports. If this were honestly reported, it would better inform policymakers about the implications and consequences of unfettered extraction.
  • Strengthen NM staffing for monitoring and enforcement of emissions regulations. We are worried that there is inadequate inspector staffing to monitor reporting and enforce compliance with stated goals.
  • Address the vast difference in values between bill sponsors and industry and indigenous peoples to facilitate more meaningful and authentic consultation. While we’re not sure how this could be included as an amendment, we share YUCCA’s concern that the whole HB 6 framework exposes a deep philosophical divide between bill sponsors and indigenous peoples. Sponsors and bill supporters are working to commodify natural resources, something antithetical to indigenous values. Our air is a relative, not a byproduct or commodity that can be traded and offset. We worry that while indigenous consultation is now included in the substitute bill, it is hard to envision meaningful consultation where the two sides embrace diametrically opposed perspectives, values, and priorities.

In closing, while we want to acknowledge the efforts on the part of sponsors, we feel the concerns reflected in our summary still need to be addressed with more amendments. We can continue to advocate for needed changes while still reluctantly supporting HB 6.

Why This Bill Is Important and Why It Badly Needs Amended

The remainder of this summary is based on the original HB 6 and should not be used to offer comment on the substitute bill.

To achieve a Clean Future, New Mexico will have to begin a thoughtful transformation to clean energy and away from fossil fuels. A recent report from Gridlab shows that to reach the 50% pollution reduction target by 2030, New Mexico would have to achieve targets in the range of:

  • 95% pollution reduction from current levels in the power sector;
  • More than 90% reduction in upstream oil and gas methane emissions;
  • At least 55% of new passenger vehicle sales would be electric; 
  • 20-30% emissions reductions from commercial and residential buildings; 
  • 70% of new furnaces and water heaters must be electric;
  • All sectors must comply with emissions reductions.

This is a daunting challenge. Hence the importance of legislation with teeth that could guide and enforce progress.

While we here at Retake Our Democracy would welcome a legislative mandate to create, monitor, report on, and enforce ambitious greenhouse gas emission (GHG) limits, we feel that HB6 lacks the language to achieve that goal and leaves escape routes that the gas and oil industry and the state could drive a tank through. But before we get to our need for change to strengthen the bill, we want to identify what we support:

  • the new requirements and agency authority set forth in the bill, including the authority provided to NMED and the obligation to pursue implementing regulations by a fixed date;
  • the GHG reporting required of all state entities;
  • the evaluation of impacts on overburdened communities;
  • the policy identification process assigned to NMED, EMNRD and other relevant agencies to meet the bill’s emission reduction requirements.

We believe these reports and the annual report by EMNRD could help stakeholders assess the state’s progress in reducing GHGs and opportunities to drive further reductions to benefit New Mexico and its overburdened communities. We also believe that with substantive changes to put more teeth into the act, the CFA presents an opportunity to benchmark, monitor, and enforce progress in pursuit of the state’s GHG emissions’ goals.

Amendments Needed for Retake to Support HB6

Among the important changes we seek:

  1.  Advance the start date of the rulemaking. We are concerned the 2025 deadline to initiate a rulemaking may jeopardize the 2030 emission reduction requirements. If a petition is not submitted until 2025, given the time needed to hold hearings, take comments, approve a rule, and defend it from court challenges, a final rule could be delayed until 2027 or later. This would provide little time to achieve 2030 goals. We recommend that rulemaking begin no later than January 1, 2023. It will be interesting to hear how the sponsors justify delaying rule making until 2025. It seems transparent that this is intended to give the and gas and oil industry a three-year pass on doing anything. 
  2. Include language to identify, describe, and reduce adverse impacts to overburdened communities. The bill should identify and advance benefits to those communities as well as define a process to coordinate with overburdened communities in developing protocols.
  3. Expand definition of “direct emissions” to include emissions from all sectors. The definition provided for “direct emissions” should be changed to ensure all relevant emitting sectors are covered, including electricity generation, both imported and produced in-state; in-state leaking, venting, or flaring of a greenhouse gas; combustion of transportation fuels, heating fuels, and other fuels powering equipment or processes combusted in New Mexico; buildings, structures, and other distribution systems; residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial waste management; and agricultural, silvicultural, and other industrial or manufacturing processes. We need to measure all emissions.
  4. Remove language referencing “net emissions” and “offsets.” The construct of “net emissions” should be entirely removed, along with language describing “offsets,” which we feel provides the gas and oil industry and the state an accounting trick to achieve “net emissions” goals while failing to sufficiently reduce direct emissions. Direct emissions are the only emissions that matter. Net emissions offer the state a way to pronounce achievement of emissions goals without actually doing anything except successful adoption of accounting tricks.
  5. Count emissions estimated to result from export of NM gas, and oil. To authentically advance real climate goals, we call for including a reporting requirement for exported fossil fuels. While NM does not regulate out-of-state downstream emissions from fossil fuels, it is important that the state understand the GHG impacts of those fuels. We suggest adding language to include reporting on “estimated current and projected emissions from all fossil fuels produced in New Mexico and exported for use outside of the state.”
  6. Strengthen enforcement by including a Private Right of Action. There should be a backstop enforcement mechanism. We must anticipate that efforts to enforce this law may be challenged in court, or a future administration may decline to enforce the law. In any case, achievement of required emission reductions could be undermined. A backstop enforcement provision should be included in the statute that would provide a private right of action for NM residentsif the CFA is not being enforced by the EIB and/or NMED. If  by Dec. 31, 2030 the greenhouse gas emissions limit of 50% of 2005 levels is not being enforced due to agency inaction, court action, or for any other reason, thena person would have the explicit right to go to any district court and ask the court to force the state to take immediate steps to adhere to emissions limits set forth in HB6. We would like to see opportunities for NM residents to take action before 2030 if it is apparent progress is not occurring.
  7. A Special Report should be published by the end of 2022 to inform 2023 legislation. The CFA should include a special report in 2022. The Governor has signaled an intent for more comprehensive climate legislation in 2023. EMNRD’s and NMED’s first full report on emissions, progress and needed policies/regulations, however, occurs after the 2023 legislative session.

Failure to incorporate the changes above will result in Retake’s continued opposition to HB6.

While we want to acknowledge Sierra Club’s excellent analysis of HB6, which served as a framework for our recommendations, Retake’s position goes further than Sierra Club’s. This summary, while indebted to Sierra Club, should not be interpreted as precisely reflecting their position. 

%d bloggers like this: