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New Mexico is celebrated for its clear blue skies – but some neighborhoods can only glimpse hints of that beauty through the haze of pollution. On November 16th, 2023, New Mexico took an essential step toward changing that unfortunate reality. After three days of hearings and public testimony, the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) and the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board (AQCB) adopted advanced clean vehicle rules. 

These standards make 2026 a year for New Mexicans to look forward to. That’s because in 2026, 43% of all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks shipped to New Mexico auto dealerships for the 2027 model year must be zero-emission vehicles. Starting that same year, 15% of all new commercial heavy-duty trucks must be zero-emission vehicles. These percentages will only increase with time, with the ultimate goal of 82% of new car sales in New Mexico being zero emission by 2032. 

These steps are vital to improve the health of our communities and to help address the climate crisis. Transportation, including the oil and gas industry that fuels it, is our state’s largest pollution source. These new vehicle standards will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide long-term protection for New Mexicans from air pollution, and help stave off the worst effects of climate change.

These new rules will also help people save money. Electric vehicles (EV) are cheaper to operate and maintain, and on average can save at least $14,000 over the car’s life. In addition, starting in January 2024, New Mexicans who purchase a qualifying new or used electric vehicle will receive immediate savings of up to $7,500. This federal change dissolves the need to wait until tax season to receive the federal tax credit. 

New Mexico is also working hard to build out the necessary EV infrastructure across our state. With more than $11.5 million invested in charging stations from state and federal funding and an additional $38 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, we are swiftly growing our capacity for a fully electric transportation future and becoming a national leader in clean energy deployment.

These standards are coming at a critical time. More frequent extreme weather events, pollution, record heat, uncertain rainfall, and deteriorating public health are all hallmarks of climate change. Clean cars and trucks are a tangible and effective way to help fight the looming climate crisis by setting in motion a proven path forward to reducing  the transportation sector’s pollution and climate emissions.

The reasons to celebrate this win extend beyond the milestone of passing these standards. The win was truly a community effort. Many members of the public provided public comment or attended the hearings. The New Mexico Clean Air Coalition, of which we are a member, and other allies worked tirelessly to get these rules adopted. It is precisely this kind of collaboration, coordination, and relationship-building that will help us achieve a more sustainable and just future.