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In 2019, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order establishing a goal of cutting New Mexico greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 45 percent by 2030.1 In parallel, the state legislature enacted the 2019 Energy Transition Act (ETA), which requires New Mexico utilities to decarbonize their electricity supply by 2045.2 In keeping with these actions, state agencies issued regulations to reduce GHG emissions from oil and gas and transportation sources and to implement the ETA.

These ambitious policies are essential to address the climate-driven extreme weather events, such as record-breaking wildfires, drought, and heat, which are already impacting New Mexico. However, current state policies stop short of requiring all large stationary sources to cut GHG emissions in keeping with reductions required by the state’s climate goals. This omission is important because these large emitters, which include fossil fuel-fired power plants, oil refineries, gas processing plants and compressor stations, manufacturing plants, and landfills, contribute a large share of the state’s GHG emissions. In order to achieve itsclimate goals, the state will likely need to establish policies that require further GHGemission reductions from large stationary sources.

Large stationary sources also release a large quantity of other air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds, and air toxics. These pollutants—referred to in this report as health-damaging air pollutants—affect breathing, heart functions, and neurological systems, and can cause premature deaths and adverse birth outcomes in populations exposed to them.

Our existing system of federal and state air pollution control laws frequently fails to adequately protect low-income communities and communities of color from these health-damaging air pollutants. Lower-income neighborhoods or neighborhoods with higher numbers of Native, Latino, or Black residents are frequently exposed to higher levels of air pollution and experience higher rates of health impacts associated with air pollution.

When climate policies are designed with public health in mind, they can simultaneously support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas and health-damaging air pollutant emissions from stationary sources. Not all climate policies will achieve significant reductions of health-damaging air pollutant emissions, however. Climate policies that focus solely on achieving aggregate greenhouse gas emission reductions can allow health-damaging air pollution to persist, or even increase, in certain communities.

This report analyzes GHG and health-damaging air pollutant emissions from large stationary sources in New Mexico, as reported by the New Mexico Environmental Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the socio-demographic characteristics of the communities living near these sources. It also suggests how these findings can inform the development of climate policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large stationary sources while also equitably reducing health-damaging air pollution in vulnerable communities. The report was authored by a team of researchers from PSE Healthy Energy and the University of New Mexico (UNM) and supports UNM’s new Just Transition Grand Challenge initiative.3 The report was informed by engagement with community organizations participating in Power4NewMexico, and the Center for Civic Policy served as an advisor and fiscal agent. The project was funded by a grant from the Environmental Defense Fund.


PSE Healthy Energy and University of New Mexico



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