What’s the New Mexico Climate Solutions Act?
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While the 2021 legislative session did not pass New Mexico Climate Solutions Act, it’s likely to return in the 2022 legislative session. One reason why this bill will likely come back involves the efforts it makes to include community members in the challenges of climate change. As this bill or another similar to it will most likely be proposed again, it is still appropriate to consider the implications of where the state’s lawmaking policies are regarding solar; namely, what they’ve considered and likely to consider in the future.
What New Mexico’s Climate Solutions Act Entails
House Bill 9 aimed to reduce emissions. Specifically, it called the state to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. For this to materialize, state agencies would have to adopt specific rules to meet emission goals.
The Climate Solutions Act proposed to combat climate change and address the economic consequences the bill would have on New Mexico homeowners interested in solar. Since the state relies on oil and gas, many jobs exist in these sectors. Thus, the ambitious goal of cutting emissions also involves cutting jobs for many within the community.
To match these needs, a community composed Climate Leadership Council would establish a framework within the state to reach a net-zero footprint by 2050. This council would also create other initiatives to diversify New Mexico’s economy while maintaining a clean and healthy environment. This council would support communities by creating high-quality jobs and economic development opportunities.
Proposed Climate Leadership Council Members
To create a balance, the council needs a variety of people to serve on it. HB 9 proposed including all cabinet department secretaries as voting members. These departments would have included: economic development, workforce solutions, finance and administration; taxation and revenue; general services, higher education, public education, state investment, and Native American affairs. The council’s proposed co-chairs included the secretary of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources (EMNRD) and the secretary of the environment.
In addition to the voting members, this bill proposed that others have voting member influence. These members would represent New Mexico’s community. Proposed advisory members included representatives from state land office, tribal and local governments, disproportionately impacted communities, three members with expertise in either mitigation, economic development or workforce development, industrial sectors involved in implementation, and the sustainable economic development subgroup members not included in the council.
Climate Leadership Council’s Statewide Strategy
The New Mexico Climate Council would have enacted guidance on achieving economic diversification while taking aggressive action to improve our environment and save New Mexico land, water, and air. The council would have centered its efforts on finding climate-focused solutions through its statewide strategy.
What the New Mexico Statewide Strategy Would have Accomplished
The council would have developed and recommended strategies to help New Mexico in five key areas:
- It would have prepared for climate change while reducing vulnerabilities and expanding training and access to jobs, increasing the state communities’ resilience.
- It would erect a framework for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.
- It would have helped New Mexico’s communities plan and prepare for climate change.
- The strategy would have advanced recommendations from sustainable economic development subgroups.
- Lastly, it would have supported the resilience and sustainability of New Mexico’s economy.
Ways New Mexico Homeowners Can Reduce Their Emissions Despite Decision on HB 9
While the Climate Solutions Act included in HB 9 didn’t pass, New Mexico homeowners can still decrease energy usage and curb climate change. Energy-saving habits that are as simple as turning off the lights when leaving a room make a difference in New Mexico’s home energy consumption.
Some investments to consider include energy-efficient appliance upgrades, smart thermostats, and solar power. Smart thermostats automatically adjust the temperature of the home to help conserve energy. For those who are ready to go full-force on ensuring their energy independence via solar power for their homes, solar modules can save homeowners heaps of money on electricity bills while also decreasing their carbon footprint.