Clean Energy Is Cutting Carbon Pollution in New Mexico

Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center

Santa Fe, NM – As public concern about extreme weather ramps up, New Mexico is proving that we can win the fight against global warming. Clean energy policies, such as energy efficiency policies and the clean cars program, are significantly cutting emissions of carbon pollution – the leading cause of global warming – according to a new report by Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center. The report, Moving America Forward, showed that New Mexico’s Renewable Electricity Standard reduced carbon pollution by at least 600,000 metric tons in 2012. That is comparable to the annual emissions from more than 127,000 cars.

“By using energy more efficiently, and by generating more power from clean, renewable sources, we are delivering a one-two punch in the fight against global warming,” said Sanders Moore, Director of Environment New Mexico. “We’ve proven that we have what it takes to protect our children and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. We will need firm limits on carbon pollution in order to deliver a knockout blow.”

Scientists say extreme weather like prolonged drought foreshadows what could be a new normal of weather extremes that could threaten our children and future generations if we fail to act on climate. Coal- and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.

Environment New Mexico pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next step to fight global warming and shift to clean energy. Right now EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants – but not carbon pollution. Power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming, accounting for about 40 percent of total emissions.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Renewable electricity standards have helped New Mexico develop enough renewable energy to offset as much carbon pollution as more than 127,000 cars produce in a year;
  • Energy efficiency policies have helped avoid as much carbon pollution as 62,500 cars produce in a year; and
  • Limits on carbon pollution from power plants would build on New Mexico’s success in using wind, solar, and energy efficiency to reduce carbon pollution.

Congressman Lujan speaks about global warming“In New Mexico we are all too familiar with the impacts of climate change – from more devastating fire seasons to extreme drought conditions.  This new report highlights progress that is being made in the growing renewable energy sector as well as the importance of expanding on efforts to promote New Mexico’s abundant renewable resources,” Congressman Ben Ray Luján, who worked on developing New Mexico’s renewable portfolio standard as Chair of the Public Regulation Commission.  “Investing in clean energy development and research and development in renewable energy will strengthen our country and see that New Mexico and our nation are at the forefront of innovation in a clean energy economy.”

Solar installations, like the recent one at Tomasita’s Restaurant in Santa Fe, is one example of how clean energy is repowering New Mexico. “This installation will be providing us power for at least 25 years, reduce emissions of all kinds of toxic chemicals in the Four Corners area where Santa Fe’s electricity is generated, and reduce our impact on climate change, “ said George Gundrey, owner and manager of Tomasita’s Restaurant.

“The solar installation at Tomasita’s is a strong testament to the commitment of local businesses who support a local green economy, creating jobs and producing clean energy right here in the heart of Santa Fe,” said Karen Paramanandam, marketing director of Positive Energy Solar.  “This system will prevent over 1,200 tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere and provide a testament to the economic and environmental value of clean renewable energy projects throughout New Mexico.”
Moore pointed to opposition from groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association that have launched campaigns to block or undermine federal carbon limits.

“With enough willpower, New Mexico can rise to any challenge. We’ve seen that climate solutions work – now it’s time for the next round, Moore concluded. “Our leaders can start by supporting the EPA’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.”