Land of oil and renewables
It’s Thursday, March 14, and here’s the latest on New Mexico’s climate plan.
Money-poor but natural resource–rich New Mexico is all set to go green by 2045. The state’s legislators voted on a bill this week that would require utilities to get their energy from carbon-free sources ASAP. That’s a big deal, especially because New Mexico is the United States’ third largest oil producer. So far, Hawaii and California are the only other states to set 100 percent carbon-free goals.
Now, this ambitious climate bill is headed to the desk of NM’s new governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, for the official sign-off. In a Beacon back in January, we wrote about how Grisham, a big proponent of climate legislation, directed her state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance.
For oil producers, this carbon-free legislation comes at an inopportune time. New Mexico had a banner oil year in 2018, producing 246 million barrels of the stuff — an uptick of more than 40 percent. And there’s way more oil to be tapped in the Permian Basin, a portion of which lies under the state. An oil field supplier told NPR that the green legislation is “Killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”
But the bill is sure to hit the state’s coal industry even harder — which is why it includes tens of millions of dollars for cleaning up coal-fired power plants and helping coal-reliant communities transition to green energy.
More bad news coming out of Brazil: The anti-environment, right-wing government has directed the country’s environmental enforcement agency not to talk to the press. Brazil’s environmental advocates are wondering what does the president plans to do now that his actions are free from media scrutiny.
We have to move quickly to avert climate catastrophe if we want to avoid rattling the “ecological foundations of society,” says a 700-page U.N. report published yesterday. If we continue down our current business-as-usual path, the report says we’re looking at millions of premature deaths from air pollution and waterborne infections, as well as mass species extinction.
At least solar power is doing well, right? Uh, some bad news on that front, too. President Trump’s tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel took a toll on the industry in 2018. According to a Solar Energy Industries Association report, installations were down 2 percent from the previous year and non-residential capacity fell by 8 percentage points.