FARMINGTON – A multi-agency task force focused on addressing the changing climate released its first annual report for the state of New Mexico.
The Interagency Climate Change Task Force, created by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, covers every state agency. Its report follows Grisham’s January executive order for the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% by 2030 and for state agencies to create comprehensive regulations to cut emissions.
“I share New Mexicans’ expectation of substantive leadership on climate action, and this initial series of recommendations underscores my administration’s unwavering commitment to addressing the causes and effects of climate change,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement announcing the report’s release.
The state’s top greenhouse gas emissions identified in the report are carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and methane, mainly from oil and natural gas production. The report acknowledges carbon dioxide emissions dropped when the San Juan Generating Station closed two units in 2017, and said emissions would drop further if the remaining stacks were shutdown with the plant’s planned closure in 2023.
The report also stressed the importance of addressing methane pollution from the oil and natural gas producers in the state. Methane is considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions. An additional report on curbing methane emissions is expected in mid-December from the Environment Department and the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources, the state said.
The climate strategy report marks a step forward for the state, according to several environmental supporters.
“Today’s climate report represents impressive progress on addressing New Mexico’s contribution to the global climate crisis,” said Camilla Feibelman, director of Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter, in a statement. “The report acknowledges the need to diversify our state economy away from polluting oil and gas. And strong methane rules are a step toward reducing industry’s impact on climate and health while we make that transition,” she said.
Jon Goldstein, Environmental Defense Fund’s director of regulatory and legislative affairs, released a statement praising Lujan Grisham’s actions to tackle climate change at the state level.
“Getting enforceable, nationally leading methane pollution-reducing regulations on the books will help protect the lungs and the livelihood of New Mexicans who deserve clean air and a safe environment,” he said.
In addition to drawing up a regulatory framework on methane emissions, the report also recommended increasing electric vehicles and solar-powered buildings throughout the state, while updating the state’s current electrical grid.
[email protected]An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect figure for how much more potent methane is than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and its effect on global warming. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.