Today Gov. Lujan Grisham’s interagency climate change task force issued a strong road map to correct course in New Mexico after eight years of climate denial and fossil fuel servitude by the previous administration.
The task force’s strategy offers a full-spectrum approach of mitigation measures and a plan to strategically adapt to the effects of climate change with an emphasis on increasing New Mexico’s landscape-level resilience to those challenges.
The strategy rightly identifies water as a primary concern to address through new protections for New Mexico’s rivers, streams, and wetlands using tools including tried-and-true Outstanding National Resource Waters designations that prohibit watershed degradation.
Action to build the resilience of New Mexico’s natural heritage is bolstered by a focus on New Mexico’s economic resilience to be achieved through an urgently-needed transition to a diversified, clean energy economy.
As this economic transition moves forward, Gov. Lujan Grisham’ task force recommitted itself to moving forward with nationally-leading new rules to limit methane and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the oil and gas industry. Given vast plumes of climate and health-harming pollution emitted by the industry in the Permian and San Juan basins, these rules will provide welcome relief to communities and help combat climate change.
But while these new rules are a great first step to deal with the oil and gas industry’s climate problems, the strategy does not include critical “second step” actions, including a clear plan to facilitate a managed phase out of oil and gas over the coming years.
“I applaud Gov. Lujan Grisham and her team for positioning New Mexico as a state leading the way on climate,” said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of Western Environmental Law Center. “New Mexico can show the country and the world that a just transition to energy sources is possible and essential to thriving, healthy communities. There’s certainly work to be done to strengthen the governor’s strategy, but we look forward to working with the administration to boost New Mexico’s climate security and to make a prosperous clean energy future a reality for New Mexico.”