On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee advanced the gas tax on the poor, S.B. 11, which has been previously enacted in Oregon and California, states where the gas price is 119% and 135% higher than the national average, respectively, according to AAA. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo).
The bill puts extreme clean fuel standards on businesses that produce or import transportation fuels and fuels used in motor vehicles. The restrictions on these companies would force them to invest in costly upgrades to their fuel standards, meaning these costs would transfer to the consumers. The bill also adds vague and sweeping “enviro-justice” provisions to state law.
In California and Oregon, where clean fuel standards are already in place, there are already increased costs of up to 24 cents per gallon on gas, which directly hurts poor consumers.
In the bill’s previous committee, Senate Tax, Business, and Transportation, Sen. Craig Brandt (D-Sandoval) asked a question about the tax on the poor, to which Sen. Stewart got flustered. She said in a stern voice, “You know what gas costs in Europe? It costs $6-7 a gallon!” She said people drove smaller electric cars in the region and said she didn’t appreciate “the sky is falling” arguments regarding concerns attributed to her bill. Stewart also complained about the committee hearing nearing two hours long on her bill.
The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA), which took a neutral stance on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s “mini” Green New Deal (The Energy Transition Act) is also taking a neutral stance on this bill. NMOGA dumped thousands into Democrat campaigns in 2018 and 2020.
The bill advanced the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 6-4, with Sens. Bill Burt (R-Chaves, Lincoln & Otero), Crystal Diamond (R-Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Luna & Sierra), Bill Sharer (R-San Juan), and Pat Woods (R-Curry, Quay and Union) rejecting the measure. Sen. Woods dubbed the bill a “lawyers’ dream” and a “pie-in-the-sky proposal.”
The bill is listed as the 11th item on the Senate floor calendar for March 10, 2021. You can help stop this bill by reaching out to your New Mexico senator and asking them to vote “NO” on Senate Bill 11. You can find your senator here.