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Thursday, June 13, 2024

New Mexicans should choose the vehicles that work for them

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An unelected board called the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) is currently accepting public comments to determine whether New Mexicans have the freedom to move around this big, beautiful state (or not). We have created a website to help average New Mexicans defend that right. Go to: KeepYourCarsNM.com.

The Governor is pushing regulations which would force New Mexicans to buy vastly more electric vehicles than they currently do. If adopted 82% of the vehicles sold in our State will have to be electric within a few short years. There is nothing inherently wrong with electric vehicles, but their purchase should be a personal choice. Currently, (99.2%) of New Mexicans choose gas powered cars. Public polls find that strong majorities of Americans have no plans to buy an electric car.

There are many reasons electric vehicles should not be forced on consumers. Both EV’s and gas cars have their environmental pluses and minuses. Yes, gas cars produce CO2 at the tailpipe, but gas vehicles continue to get more efficient. Between 2002 and 2022 model years, emissions decreased 27.6% while fuel efficiency rose by 35.4%. They continue to get better over time.

Like gasoline cars, EV’s rely on fossil fuels. A 2019 study found that if EV’s were to replace all gas powered vehicles it would increase electricity demand by 20-50%. That additional electricity is not going to be easy to produce without adding fossil fuels to the grid. Tellingly, the largest EV charging station in California currently gets its power from diesel generators.

EV’s also rely on mined materials. Those are often produced in foreign countries under deplorable conditions and with few environmental safeguards. Mining, shipping, and processing these materials all use tremendous amounts of energy. There is no “free lunch” with EV’s. As with every technology there are environmental tradeoffs.

The performance challenges with EV’s are even more significant. Charging stations are not readily available in many parts of New Mexico. Portions of Navajo Nation don’t even have reliable electricity.

Charging can also be painfully slow. The most common publicly available charging station is “Level 2.” It will provide between 12 and 80 miles per hour (far slower than a typical gas pump). Battery performance further suffers in extreme heat and cold, both of which are common in our desert environment which is hard on batteries.

The current electric vehicle marketplace is heavily reliant on government mandates and cross-subsidies and EV’s offer serious challenges.

You may like or even own an EV, but there are complicated issues with tradeoffs that can impact New Mexico’s most vulnerable populations. At the very least this is an issue for our elected Legislature, not an unelected board installed by Lujan Grisham.

There are many ways to improve the environment. The case for EV’s is certainly not clear enough to warrant such an aggressive push. Please contact the EIB today at KeepYourCarsNM.com and tell them you want to keep your car!

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.

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