Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Opinion: Clean vehicle mandate won't work in NM

After four long days of testimony and public comment the Environmental Improvement Board decided recently to move forward with Gov. Lujan Grisham’s plan to follow California’s “clean vehicle” standard.

In practice that means New Mexico’s car dealers will have to increase sales of electric vehicles in New Mexico from the current 3% of all new vehicles to 43% by summer of 2026 and 82% by summer of 2031.

New Mexico’s car dealers are the ones with the most to lose under this policy, but the new rules will negatively impact all New Mexicans. Car dealers rightly fear that New Mexicans will travel to neighboring states to purchase their cars. There is nothing to stop them. In fact, online super-seller Amazon just announced it would begin selling vehicles online.

Amazon’s presence in the auto market alone is a problem for car dealers but if Amazon (and out-of-state dealers) can sell whatever consumers want and New Mexico dealers can’t, that is a big problem.

Many car dealers are small businesses. New car dealers average 56 employees per dealership and employ a total of 6,314 New Mexicans statewide.

Car dealers also pay numerous taxes (like property, payroll, and income) that Amazon and Texas dealers won’t pay when they sell cars to New Mexicans.

The EIB’s process is hugely problematic. New Mexico’s Democrats talk endlessly about defending “democracy” but when push comes to shove, elected bodies like the Legislature refuse to guard their own power.

Every Democrat in the Legislature needs to go on the record in support or opposition to the governor’s mandate when seeing reelection in 2024. Notably, every single Republican in the Legislature signed letters in opposition to the proposal.

Sadly, despite overwhelming numbers of New Mexicans expressing their opposition (including 3,517 individual opponents through our website), the seven-member board voted on a mere 3-2 basis to adopt the mandate.

The governor couldn’t even get an outright majority of her own appointed board to support her policies.

So, who supported it? Major environmental groups led the charge of course. But, in attending the hearings a common refrain from supporters (many of them wealthy, Anglo, EV owners from Albuquerque and Santa Fe) were that “EVs work great for them.”

That attitude ignores the dire lack of charging infrastructure throughout rural New Mexico, an issue that is even more acute in Navajo Country. Apartment dwellers and those who do not own single family homes, while often living a “green” lifestyle, will inevitably struggle to charge their mandated vehicles.

Factually speaking, this mandate cannot and will not work. New Mexicans will simply not have enough EVs available to comply with this mandate with vastly more populous California having already embraced similar rules. Car dealers will go out of business and either Lujan Grisham or some future governor will either delay or modify this unworkable mandate.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, which promotes limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility. Contact him at:

[email protected]