AP NEWS

New Mexico enters fray over vehicle emission standards

September 24, 2019 GMT
FILE - In this July 9, 2019 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during a news conference in Santa Fe, N.M. Satellite imagery and supercomputing capabilities will be used to detect and monitor methane pollution from major oil and natural gas installations in New Mexico, under an informal partnership announced Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, between state regulators and private-sector data cruncher Descartes Labs. Lujan Grisham announced the collaborative effort in Santa Fe at a summit-style event that brought together oil industry specialists, regulators and environmentalists to explore technical challenges and solutions to conserving methane. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)
FILE - In this July 9, 2019 file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks during a news conference in Santa Fe, N.M. Satellite imagery and supercomputing capabilities will be used to detect and monitor methane pollution from major oil and natural gas installations in New Mexico, under an informal partnership announced Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, between state regulators and private-sector data cruncher Descartes Labs. Lujan Grisham announced the collaborative effort in Santa Fe at a summit-style event that brought together oil industry specialists, regulators and environmentalists to explore technical challenges and solutions to conserving methane. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will set its own fuel economy and pollution standards for cars, pickup trucks and SUVs in a break with federal authorities, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday from New York where she was participating in climate talks with other governors.

The move aligns New Mexico more closely with states including California that are resisting efforts by the Trump administration to revoke independent state authority to set greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said new state restrictions on vehicle emissions will start with model-year 2022 vehicles, and that New Mexico fuel economy standards will increase to an average of 52 mpg (22 kpl) by 2025. She criticized the rollback of federal fuel economy standards by the federal government as counterproductive.

New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board adopted clean car standards in 2007, under then-Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, before repealing them in 2013, while Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was in office.

“While President Trump threatens to rob New Mexico and indeed all states of a valuable tool for combating air pollution and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, New Mexico will stand up and deliver on our commitment to environmental leadership,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

The first-year governor has set aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions amid a local boom in oil and natural gas production, focusing initially on cleaner sources of electricity and efficiency upgrades to state buildings. Tuesday’s announcement marks a more aggressive approach to curbing greenhouse gas emissions linked to transportation.

She noted that pollution from transportation contributes heavily to ground-level ozone, which can aggravate asthma and contribute to early deaths from respiratory disease. The governor cited cause for concerns about ozone concentrations in seven counties.

Last week, the Trump administration revoked California’s authority to set its own vehicle emission standards — authority the state has had for decades under a waiver from the federal Clean Air Act.

California in turn has sued the Trump administration over its rollback of environmental and clean air regulations.

Thirteen other states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted California’s vehicle emission standards.