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Clean fuel standard wins approval by New Mexico Senate

SANTA FE – New Mexico’s state Senate approved a bill Thursday to create a clean fuel standard that environmentalists and Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham say would move the state closer to reaching its carbon reduction goals.

Endorsed on a 25-14 Senate vote, the proposed legislation calls for a gradual reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels and applies to companies that refine, blend or import those fuels. Retail gasoline stations are not affected.

The bill from Democratic Sen. Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque now moves to the Democrat-led House for consideration. Stewart says the state has to reduce pollution linked to the transportation sector to meet its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Cars, trucks and commercial vehicles traveling throughout the expansive state amount to its second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. State environment officials say targeting the fuels and creating a voluntary credit program that monetizes emission reductions would put a dent in methane and other pollutants.

Republican critics of the bill say they fear it will increase gasoline prices in the poverty-stricken state and the burden would be felt mostly by lower-income residents.

If the bill becomes law, New Mexico would join California and Oregon in offering credits generated by emissions-reducing technology. Several other states are considering similar clean fuel legislation.