"The President of the United States and some members of the United States Congress have signaled their wish to significantly alter the functioning of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose mission is to protect human health and the environment. Although few details have been forthcoming, the Office of the State Auditor has assembled data that may be relevant as state and local elected officials grapple with the potential effects of these policies, and to help New Mexicans how our State may be affected.
Despite decades of progress under the Clean Air Act, Americans across the country continue to breathe unhealthy air, leading to increased risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.
New Mexico is at a crossroads. As recently as 2011, more than 70 percent of in-state power generation came from coal; since then, three coal units have retired, with another 4 planned for closure in the coming years. Economics are simply not in their favor. But while the decline of New Mexico’s coal industry is inevitable, the composition of resources that will replace it is not. The state’s largest electric utilities are proposing a steadily increasing dependence on natural gas, which, while cleaner than coal, is still a fossil fuel—and not the cheapest option.
A New analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists reveals that renewable energy, not gas, is the state’s lowest-cost long-term solution. A strengthened renewable portfolio standard (RPS) would help ensure the transition to clean energy actually takes place.