Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center
Albuquerque – As this summer’s extreme drought and its aftermath prompt more New Mexicans to call for action to tackle global warming and the rise in extreme weather, Environment New Mexico released a new Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report today that shows that New Mexico’s current power generation from wind energy displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 232,000 cars off the road per year. Additionally, the Environment New Mexico report shows that wind power saves enough water to meet the needs of 11,600 New Mexicans.
Environment New Mexico was joined by Commissioner Jason Marks, Public Resources Commission (PRC) District 1, and pulmonologist Dr. Dona Upson in releasing the Environment New Mexico Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water, and touting wind energy’s environmental benefits to date, as well as future benefits if wind power continues to grow. The speakers urged Congress to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—before they expire at the end of the year.
“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for New Mexicans,” said Rikki Seguin of Environment New Mexico. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear: Don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”
If wind development continues at a pace comparable to that of recent years through 2016, New Mexico would reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 154,000 cars off the road and would save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 7,700 New Mexicans.
“New Mexico has at least 13,000 megawatts of commercially-viable wind power waiting to be developed that could be providing clean electricity to homes and businesses across the Western U.S. without harmful emissions and without consuming our precious water supplies,” said Commissioner Marks. “A multi-year renewal of the PTC is a key component for realizing this potential.”
The report also outlined that today’s wind energy in New Mexico is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 1,830 tons of smog-causing pollution and 340 tons of soot pollution.
“We need to increase the environmental and health benefits of wind energy by increasing wind power in our state,” said Dr. Upson. “With so many New Mexicans suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and because of the disproportionate impact of air pollution on children’s lungs, the clean air benefits of wind power can help improve and save lives.”
New Mexico’s successful development of wind energy results largely from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards — requiring utilities to provide 20% of their power from renewable energy by 2020 and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).
Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for New Mexican’s on the table.
Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.
“As our state is still healing from severe drought, we must invest wisely in a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Seguin of Environment New Mexico. “Time is running out. We thank Senators Udall and Bingaman for supporting clean, renewable wind power and urge them to do everything they can to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year. Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”