Briefs

Carbon credit swaps bill passes House

By: - February 3, 2024 6:31 pm
A stack emits a plume of white smoke from a refinery in Illinois near a busy interstate

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A proposal to reward fuel companies for investing in cleaner options by allowing them to purchase carbon tax credits, that they could then sell to companies producing traditional fossil fuels, passed the New Mexico House of Representatives.

In a 36-33 vote, the House on Saturday endorsed a proposal which establishes a statewide fuel standard. Proponents say the measure would reduce pollutants from transportation 30% below 2018 levels by 2040.

The vote took place during a “call of the House,” where every representative is called to their chair and the doors inside the chambers are locked. One representative was excused.

Sponsored by Reps. Kristina Ortez (D-Taos) and Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), House Bill 41 authorizes the state Environment Improvement Board to set limits on carbon emissions from fossil fuels used in transportation.

House Democrats said in a news release the market for credits created by the bill would spur an estimated $470 million in economic investment.

The proposal has drawn criticism from climate activists for not going far enough to compel industries to meaningfully reduce emissions.

According to the legislation, any new fees collected would go to state coffers meant to address environmental standards such as water conservation, environmental health and radiation protection funds.

HB 41 still needs to be moved over to the Senate, assigned to more committees and voted on again before it could reach Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk. Senate President Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque) is a co-sponsor.

In response to the vote, Conservation Voters New Mexico in a news release called the bill “a critical step in shifting the transportation sector away from fossil fuels while investing in low-carbon fuel alternatives” and urged the Senate to follow the House’s lead.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.

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