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Republicans want to repeal New Mexico’s electric vehicle requirement


Republican lawmakers pushed back against a statewide mandate to increase electric vehicle sales, introducing a bill that would repeal the policy enacted last fall.

In November 2023, New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) voted 3-2 to adopt rules requiring auto dealers in the state provide electric or zero-emission vehicles in 42 percent of their fleets by model year 2027, and 82 percent by 2032.

It drew immediate backlash from the automotive industry and supporters of fossil fuels, who argued the state mandate was impeding the right for consumers to choose.

More: Here’s how new electric vehicle rules could affect car and truck sales in New Mexico

Three such supporters in the legislature from oil and gas regions – two from the southeast Permian Basin and one from the northwest San Juan Basin – pre-filed a bill ahead of the 2024 Legislative Session to repeal the mandate.

Cosponsor of House Bill 76 Rep. Jim Townsend (R-54) of Artesia said it was unfair for the EIB, which is appointed by the governor, to make such drastic decisions and the matter should be taken up by the legislature.

That would allow for debate into the accessibility of electric vehicles in rural areas of New Mexico, Townsend contended, and address issues like charging infrastructure costs and demand.

More: Auto industry fights New Mexico’s attempt to require more electric vehicles be sold

“An unelected board should not make decisions that adversely affect the market and regulate the types of cars consumers can purchase,” Townsend said. “This decision is meant for elected representatives to discuss and debate in our State Capitol.”

Rep. Larry Scott (R-62) of Hobbs, who also cosponsored the bill, said demand for electric vehicles was “lagging” and they were too expensive for many motorists in New Mexico.

House Republicans in a news release purported electric vehicles to be $10,000 more on average than gas powered cars and trucks, and the mandate would cost the state “hundreds of millions of dollars” to alter its power grid to support charging infrastructure “all at the expense of the taxpayer.”

More: New Mexico oilfield lawmakers ready to defend oil, gas from ‘tightening noose’ of regulation

“Major auto manufacturers are scaling back their investments into more EV production because consumer demand is lagging, and the last thing we need is a transportation supply chain crisis paired with higher prices and fewer choices for New Mexicans,” Scott said.

Rep. Rod Montoya (R-1) of Farmington also cosponsored the bill arguing “Santa Fe should not control the market” and the adoption of electric vehicles should be based on consumer demand.

New Mexico gets billions in federal funds for EV charging network

But the efforts to broaden electric vehicle use in New Mexico was heavily supported by Democrats at both the state and federal level.

More: Your guide to the 2024 New Mexico Legislative budget session

New Mexico’s congressional delegation, all Democrats, on Thursday announced about $68 million in federal grants were awarded to the State of New Mexico, and two communities in the northern part of the state, to build new charging stations for electric cars and trucks.

The State’s initial work will focus on a charging network along Interstate 10, which runs east to west through southern New Mexico between Arizona and Texas through a $63.8 million federal grant.

The full route on 1-10 will run from the San Pedro ports in southern California to the El Paso border region, and two facilities will be built in New Mexico near Lordsburg and Vado by TerraWatt Infrastructure through a contract with the State of New Mexico.

More: GOP fears swollen budget, as Democrats plan to spend big in New Mexico legislative session

The charging stations will feature nine pull-through stalls equipped with a 350 kilowatt and 1 megawatt charger for electric trucks.

An additional $3.3 million of the federal dollars will go to Santa Fe County for a localized charging network at 13 sites, and $500,000 will be used to build six chargers in Taos.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said the charging network was essential to curbing pollution and addressing climate change.

More: Top oil and gas bills to watch during New Mexico’s 2024 Legislative Session

“If we want to meet our ambitious climate goals and deploy these clean and zero-emission vehicles at scale, we need to build much more EV charging infrastructure in our communities and along our major highways,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM) whose Second Congressional District represents the area the I-10 corridor flows through said the charging stations will serve not only commuters but the heavy interstate transportation of products through New Mexico and into California.

“The construction of these new charging centers will provide critical resting places along the I-10 corridor, which facilitates the transportation of millions of dollars in goods from the ports of Los Angeles through New Mexico and to the rest of the country,” Vasquez said.

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, or @AdrianHedden on the social media platform X.

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