In early July, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced new environmental rules that would require 43% of the 2027 model year cars and trucks sent to New Mexico for sale meet strict clean car standards. The phased-in percentage of “clean cars” would leap to 82% for 2032 vehicles.
If adopted, only a fraction of vehicles available at New Mexico dealerships would be gasoline- or diesel-powered in a decade. Currently, fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles account for just 1% of all 650,000 registered vehicles in New Mexico, despite government subsidies. And most of them are owned by people in Albuquerque and Santa Fe who make six-figure incomes.
The governor’s handpicked Environmental Improvement Board is considering the proposed Advanced Clean Cars and Advanced Clean Truck rules, whose stated purpose is “to adopt and implement the California vehicle emission standards and requirements statewide.” The New Mexico Environment Department and the city of Albuquerque will host an in-person meeting about the proposed rules from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Community Meeting Room at the International District Library, 7601 Central Ave NE. Those concerned about unfunded mandates and so-called “Environmental Justice Vehicle Values” should attend or send written comments to: https://nmed.commentinput.com/?id=TuMmsArBj
The Journal recently learned of the second salvo in the governor’s EV assault — EV charger construction mandates. And this, too, is being done through executive action, rather than the legislative process — a hallmark of the Lujan Grisham administration.
The Construction Industries Division, a division of the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department, is considering forcing almost every new construction project in the state to include EV charging infrastructure in parking lots.
So much for public-private partnerships. All the costs of the charging stations, estimated between $7,000 to $18,000 each depending on setup and voltage, would fall on the back of private property owners and industries.
A spokesperson for the Regulation & Licensing Department declined to comment to the Journal, but documents obtained by the Editorial Board shed light on the scheme. Mandates would vary by occupancy classifications.
• New apartments, hotels, motels, vacation timeshare properties, monasteries, and dormitories would be required to install EV chargers in 20% of their parking spaces. In addition, 50% of parking spots would have to have the infrastructure to be EV capable, and 5% would have to be EV ready.
Alan LaSeck, executive director of the Apartment Association of New Mexico, told the Editorial Board the regulations could have a chilling effect on rental housing, noting there’s no exception in the draft rules for low-income or affordable housing. LaSeck says the costs to developers would be exorbitant, reaching into the millions, depending on the size and layout of the property. A 300-unit complex, for example, would be required to have 60 EV charging stations, 15 EV ready spaces, and 150 EV capable spaces.
“We are absolutely not against EV chargers or vehicles,” LaSeck said. “Our obvious concerns are related to cost and implementation. This will increase construction costs across the board. Our personal concern is the impact on multifamily housing.”
It’s good someone is concerned about the impact on the housing supply and already soaring rental costs after the average monthly rent for an apartment in Albuquerque shot up 22% in 2022. The costs of EV chargers in an apartment communities would almost certainly be passed down to renters.
Albuquerque is scrambling for more housing, allowing casitas in backyards and easing the conversion of old motels and office buildings into apartment buildings. The city is short 13,000 to 33,000 rental units. The aim of the city’s Housing Forward ABQ initiative is to create 5,000 new housing units by 2025 above what the private housing market will provide.
Unfunded EV charger mandates wouldn’t help any of that. Unfortunately, the chilling effects go far beyond housing.
• New barber shops, car washes, laundromats, banks, jails, department stores, retail stores, hospitals, drug stores, parking garages, doctor and dentist offices, and nursing homes would be forced to install EV chargers in 15% of their parking spaces, with 30% EV capable.
• New funeral parlors, swimming pools, amusement parks, tennis courts, theaters, casinos, restaurants, bars, libraries, museums, places of worship and stadiums would be mandated to have EV chargers in 10% of their parking spaces, with another 10% required to be EV capable.
• New schools and day care facilities are oddly cut some slack. They would be required to have EV chargers in 5% of their parking spaces, with 15% mandated to have EV infrastructure.
About the only location that wouldn’t be impacted are cemeteries, the one place where folks have plenty of time to wait for a full charge.
The unfunded mandates are slated to take effect Jan. 1, although the Construction Industries Division hasn’t even scheduled a public hearing yet. The hasty implementation has many concerned.
“As drafted, the ratios are not achievable,” said Rhiannon Samuel, executive director of commercial real estate group NAIOP New Mexico.
Keep in mind the generally anti-business climate of New Mexico is a large reason why the state gained only 58,000 residents between 2010 and 2020, while our neighboring states flourished. The U.S. Census Bureau says more people are leaving than moving here and the state’s overall population is growing at the smallest rate since statehood.
Ramming through such extensive unfunded mandates in such a short time frame is beyond ridiculous. It’s bad government at its worse.
Meanwhile, the governor’s Cabinet Secretary for the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration recently told lawmakers the state is experiencing “unprecedented, historic times” in terms of tax revenues. An oil and gas boom underway will give Lujan Grisham and New Mexico legislators almost $3.5 billion in “new money” in next year’s budget, on top of the state’s current $9.6 billion budget.
There’s no need for unfunded EV charger mandates when state coffers are overflowing. State lawmakers need to speak up, exert their authority and propose legislation providing tax credits and other incentives to cushion the implementation costs of EV chargers everywhere. The governor’s unilateral rules are arbitrary, unattainable, unvetted and politically motivated. They also don’t carry the weight and have the shelf life of actual legislation.
We need a path to EVs that the public supports, that won’t have a chilling effect on new construction, that won’t cause rents to further soar, and that won’t drive more working-class folks out of the state. Lawmakers, where are you?