New Mexico governor seeks low-carbon fuel standard

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, December 21, 2021

FILE - Traffic travels along the Hollywood Freeway in Los Angeles on Dec. 12, 2018. According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, researchers who study the environment and public health say that thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars have been saved in the United States by recent reductions in emissions from vehicles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s Democratic governor on Monday renewed her call for state legislators in the major oil producing state to approve requirements for fuel producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement that “New Mexico must pass a clean fuel standard in the upcoming legislative session.”

The governor has discretion over which nonbudgetary initiatives are heard during the 30-day legislative session that starts Jan. 18.

Earlier this year, a Democrat-sponsored bill to impose low-carbon fuel standards stalled in the state House of Representatives after winning Senate’s endorsement on a party-line vote with Republicans in opposition. The proposal would not have applied to retailers, including gas stations.

Similar programs have been implemented in California and Oregon. Low-carbon fuel standards are aimed at reducing greenhouse emission in the transportation sector by going beyond vehicle fuel efficiency requirements and setting benchmarks for fuel producers or importers or both.

The regulations typically quantify the environmental impacts fuels or blends — such as oil, ethanol or hydrogen — from their extraction or manufacturing process through its end use. The rules require providers to make gradual improvements in their production processes to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide or other pollutants into the air.

In California, oil refineries can be rewarded for incorporating renewable sources of electricity like solar panels or wind turbines to power the refining process — or by sequestering carbon underground instead of releasing it into the air.

Lujan Grisham applauded Monday’s move by the administration of President Joe Biden to raise vehicle mileage standards to significantly reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, reversing a Trump-era rollback that loosened fuel efficiency standards.

Republican House minority leader James Townsend of Artesia warned in a statement that the governor’s policies could increase fuel prices in rural areas in an effort to please environmental activists.

New Mexico is producing more petroleum than ever before, surpassing North Dakota in recent months as the nation’s No. 2 producer after Texas — boosting greenhouse gas emissions that are created when customers burn the state’s oil or natural gas.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to tighten federal methane regulations for the oil and natural gas industry. The New Mexico Environment Department is crafting its own rules aimed at reducing direct greenhouse gas emissions from oilfield equipment and prevent the release of methane, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.