Environment Watch

Taos PRC rep votes no on state’s clean power plan


New Mexico's commission that regulates the state's electricity supply and other utilities voted last week to move forward with workshops meant to hammer out the details of a state-level clean power plan.

The "Clean Energy Standard" proposal would make New Mexico utilities reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 4 percent each year for the next 20 years, with an 80 percent reduction by the year 2040, according to Steve Michel, energy policy director for Western Resource Advocates.

"This level of reduction is consistent with what established science says is needed to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, such as increased wildfires, floods and drought," Michel said.

The measure narrowly passed Oct. 11, with Taos' representative to the state Public Regulation Commission, Valerie Espinoza, casting one of the two dissenting votes.

Espinoza told The Taos News Wednesday (Oct. 18) that she voted down the proposal because the question of whether or not the commission even has the legal authority to implement the statewide plan hasn't been clarified since the last time the PRC took up a similar proposal.

Furthermore, she noted the upcoming discussions are only meant to address how the plan could be implemented, while discussions on the benefits and detriments of the plan were not considered. Espinoza said she believes in global warming and backs broader clean energy standards.

The vote came just one day after President Donald Trump's administration announced it was scrapping the Environmental Protection Agency's "Clean Power Plan," an Obama-era administrative rule meant to curb carbon pollution in the face of climate change.

The first workshops on the rule were scheduled to be held in Santa Fe on Wednesday and Thursday (Oct. 18-19).