The New Mexico House of Representatives voted Sunday to pass a “clean transportation fuel standard” that will increase gas prices by around 50 cents per gallon or more. The passage was narrowly secured with a vote tally of 36-33, reflecting a divided stance among the legislators, with Democrats joining all Republicans to reject it.
The bill in question, identified as a modified version of House Bill 41 by the House Judiciary Committee, seeks to lay the groundwork for a statewide initiative focused on diminishing the carbon intensity associated with transportation fuels. The ambitious targets set by this initiative aim for a reduction of at least 20% from the levels recorded in 2018 by the year 2030, escalating to a minimum of 30% by 2040.
Proponents of the bill, such as sponsor Rep. Kristina Ortez from Taos, argue that the establishment of such standards is crucial for attracting clean fuel businesses to New Mexico. Ortez highlighted the potential financial and environmental benefits at stake, emphasizing the risk of missing out on substantial federal investments and the opportunity to improve air quality.
The bill faced heavy criticism from Republicans, particularly concerning the potential impact on fuel prices. They voiced concerns that the implementation of clean fuel standards could lead to higher costs for consumers at the pump. GOP Rep. Jared Hembree from Roswell proposed an amendment aimed at enhancing transparency regarding compliance costs, which, however, did not pass.
The discussion also delved into the specifics of how fuels with significant greenhouse gas emissions would be evaluated under the new standards, with assurances that they would indeed be assessed.
As the debate concluded after three hours, the bill now faces its next hurdle in the Senate, with a tight timeline to secure approval if it is to be enacted into law.