How will the State enforce Lujan Grisham’s EV mandates?

With the Environmental Improvement Board starting to hold meetings over plans to force New Mexicans to buy electric vehicles (and regulations already in place to buy smaller numbers of EV’s starting next year) we figured it was worth looking at how these regulations will work. The simple answer is that car dealers have the most to lose as currently written.

So, we asked our friend Todd Myers who works on environmental policy in Washington State which is also foisting such regulations (all based on California’s) on its citizens. The answer is that the system will largely work as a “cap and trade” mechanism.

According to Myers, “When dealers sell EVs (or PHEVs) they generate credits. Those credits count toward their sales targets. Dealers who have more credits can sell them to those who need them. It is just another cap-and-trade system.”

For dealers who cannot make up the difference, they pay a penalty of 4 times the value of a ZEV credit.

Interestingly, the law applies to dealers and not to vehicle registrations. So, if someone went to El Paso to buy a gas-powered vehicle, they could bring it back to the state and register it (at least until the politicians decide to tie vehicle registrations to being electric.”

Here is the whole rule: 1962.4 ZEV Standards 2026+ (

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Deb Haaland’s radical daughter has ties to Cuba’s communist government

Biden Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is a radical who has done her “best” to oppose American energy.  Her daughter is perhaps even more radical and has raised concerns of conflict of interest given her environmental activism and her mother’s position.

Earlier this year Haaland decided to place large tracts of land around Chaco Canyon Monument off limits for economic activity. Opposing leasing in the vicinity of Chaco  was a target of her daughter’s activism.

A new report connects Haaland’s daughter to Cuba’s communist regime.  Specifically, the U.S.-based Venceremos Brigade, whose aim, according to a 1976 FBI report, “is the recruitment of individuals who are politically oriented and who someday may obtain a position, elective or appointive, somewhere in the U.S. government, which would provide the Cuban government with access to political, economic and military intelligence.”

Somah Haaland’s Pueblo Action Alliance is openly associated with the Venceremos Brigade.

Russian and Chinese groups have a long track record of supporting anti-energy groups. It is hardly a surprise that Cuba would be involved in the same type of activity.

Interior Secretary's Daughter Has Worked with Environmental Alliance Tied to Cuba Solidarity Group - The Foreign Desk | by Lisa Daftari

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Opinion piece: Governor’s Disdain For Democracy Nothing New

The following appeared in Las Cruces Sun-News on September 15, 2023 and in other papers across New Mexico.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently gained national headlines for her public health order which essentially banned carrying a gun in Bernalillo County, the State’s largest county by population. Her justification for this dramatic action was a recent shooting outside Isotopes Park, but residents of Bernalillo County and Albuquerque face and have faced these issues for years.

Each time a criminal uses a gun to kill or steal it is frustrating and sad event. Both the causes and solutions are complicated and controversial. No matter the crisis one person (including the Gov.) cannot simply suspend the rule of law and the US Constitution.

Many New Mexicans like me believe Albuquerque’s crime problem is the result of weak leadership at multiple levels: The City fails to enforce the law, Department of Justice policies further hamstring the police, “catch and release” judges that voters (sadly) keep electing, and an unwillingness of the Gov. and Legislature to pass laws addressing our serious crime problems. And those are just the public policy failures, not the societal ones.

Many New Mexicans carry guns in response to the threat of violence they face.

Any attempt to deal with crime needs to involve the Legislature and other State and local elected officials. This would be true even if New Mexico had Republicans in positions of political power which they don’t.

Sadly, Lujan Grisham is only taking the next logical step in accumulating political power to herself. Declaring a “health emergency” and then making all manner of policies regarding school and business openings as well as vaccines and masks with little public input or say-so was her approach during COVID.

Sadly, the same Democrats who run the Legislature and who failed to pass basic restrictions on the Gov.’s COVID powers (like a 45-day limit on her emergency powers) remain largely unwilling to address the Gov.’s latest overreach on guns (Sen. Joe Cervantes is one notable exception as he has spoken out in opposition).

This is not just about guns. Lujan Grisham has exhibited a pattern of taking powers whether they are hers to use or not. She is currently working through an unelected Environmental Improvement Board, not the elected Legislature, to impose drastic new mandates that will soon require 82% of vehicles sold in New Mexico to be electric.

Occasionally the Gov.’s anti-Democracy tactics are on seemingly minor issues. Back in the 2022 special session of the Legislature the Gov. requested $1 million to reduce fees on the struggling New Mexico Rail Runner Express. The funds were not allocated by the Legislature, but the Gov. decided to cut fares anyway on her own.

Gov. Lujan Grisham may or may not have a political future beyond the remainder of her current term of office. Despite impeachment proceedings that have been filed by the GOP, we will likely be stuck with this Gov. until her term expires the end of 2026 when her term expires.

But the entire Legislature is up next November. And when they are running for office, one of the very first questions voters need to ask them is what they will do to hold the Gov. accountable when she ignores the law.

They should start by speaking clearly and publicly in opposition to her “gun grab” and then they should enact limits on the duration and scope of executive power in public health emergencies.

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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Tipping Point NM episode 540 Governor’s Gun Order, Kohl’s Closes Due to Crime, Electric Vehicles Struggle and more

On this week’s conversation Paul and Wally discuss the latest on MLG’s gun order and where we see things going from here.

On a related note Kohl’s in Coronado Mall has abruptly closed. Employees interviewed by KOB TV cited theft as a leading issue.

Biden’s own Energy Secretary experienced some issues firsthand and NPR was there to report on them. Also, a bill was passed in the US House that would stop states from banning gas vehicles. Only a few Democrats voted for it including Gabe Vasquez. RGF has also joined the Save our Cars coalition.

Poverty has risen quickly between 2021 and 2022.

An energy conference organized by Democrats in downtown Albuquerque and with speakers including Sen. Heinrich drew protesters opposed to carbon sequestration and nuclear. Do supposed environmentalists even WANT a solution? 

Another universal basic income program rolled out in Las Cruces. A prior program was privately funded, this one is funded with federal tax dollars. Neither really fit the “basic income” model.

Launches are happening at Spaceport America, but the ABQJournal is questioning the viability of Virgin Galactic and legislators are questioning the Facility’s financial impact.

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New Mexico still faces massive health care problems

Despite some modest efforts to address New Mexico’s growing health care crisis during the 2023 legislative session (ending GRT on doctors, reforming parts of its medical malpractice law) the State continues to face serious issues with its health care system.

For starters, hospitals were not addressed in the recent medical malpractice reform. Their cap is currently at $4.5 million and is heading to $6 million by 2026. Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center CEO Lillian Montoya cited a 110% to 200% increase in insurance premiums.

According to the Albuquerque Journal rural hospitals are closing their obstetrics wards creating “maternity care deserts.” Reasons given include staffing issues  and low reimbursement from Medicaid. 47% of New Mexicans are on Medicaid according to the Legislative Finance Committee.

According to so-called “progressives” in the Legislature the “solution” is to simply expand Medicaid. According to the ABQ Journal, the idea is to open the door for nearly all nonelderly New Mexicans under 65 to enroll in Medicaid.

Further expansion of Medicaid would likely suffer from the same issues as it did when it was expanded under ObamaCare. No significant health improvements occurred under that law. 

While health care and the issues New Mexico is facing our not unique, the State should consider reforming its medical malpractice law relating to hospitals while also working to encourage New Mexicans to obtain private insurance rather than further expanding Medicaid.

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Meaningless “basic income” experiments in Las Cruces

Evan many conservative thought leaders have been willing to consider the idea (called Universal basic income) of replacing welfare payments to the poor with cash payments. The idea is pretty simple: welfare programs have a bunch of hoops and phase-outs that can often disincentivize going from welfare to work. One problem (as other conservatives often point out) is that politicians are unwilling to eliminate the welfare programs and pay them out in a cash equivalent.

In recent years there have been experiments, supposedly with UBI concepts, but they never actually result in replacement of welfare with cash, they simply result in more cash. We critiqued a 2021 Santa Fe program along those lines.

Now, Las Cruces has gotten into the mix. A privately funded guaranteed basic income project allocated 330 families $500 per month and ended in January. Results haven’t been analyzed yet. Now, thanks to $1.7 million dollars of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, multiple nonprofits in the Las Cruces community will provide $500 monthly payments over 18 months to 150 eligible Las Cruces families”

Will the results of these experiments mean anything? Sure, most people, especially those with low incomes, will gladly take an extra $500 annually, but unless the UBI is a replacement as opposed to a supplement for existing welfare programs it will be rather meaningless.

Interestingly, Mayor Ken Miyagishima, a Democrat, appears to be the only voice of reason in Las Cruces government. He said, “I hope it doesn’t just turn into, hey, I got this money, this is great. And okay, it ran out, so what am I going to do now?”

Universal Basic Income: The reasons why it's a terrible idea. – The Trailblazer

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Launches are finally happening at Spaceport, but financial viability remains a question

After more than a decade of waiting New Mexicans can be forgiven for considering the recent paid tourism launches out of Spaceport America “good enough” and moving on.

But, in a rare indepth story that questions the financial viability of lead tenant Virgin Galactic, the Albuquerque Journal recently highlighted the fact that there are still serious questions about the viability of operations at Spaceport America. There are also some in the New Mexico Legislature who would like the cash-rich State to take over control of the facility in a move to aid local governments which continue to tax themselves to keep the facility afloat.

A recent economic analysis of the Spaceport purported to show significant positive financial impact on New Mexico’s economy. Sen. Joe Cervantes (D), expressed skepticism of those numbers as would anyone looking at a report paid for by the Spaceport Authority and designed to justify its existence.

One paragraph summarizes Virgin Galactic’s situation:

Virgin Galactic is bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars a year to build its next-generation fleet of Delta Class spaceships, with many more financial hurdles still on the horizon as it strives to ramp up its manufacturing capacity and build out the infrastructure and services it needs to sustain business operations in the long term.

Even as it has gotten manned space tourism launches underway in recent months Virgin Galactic’s stock price continues to plummet.

RGF has long contended that spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars to build and maintain the facility was an unwise move by the Richardson Administration and the Legislature.

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Radical environmentalists a hindrance to environmental solutions

Here a the Rio Grande Foundation we love to disagree with radical environmental US Senator Martin Heinrich and others who would both blow billions of our tax dollars on environmental projects while regulating the US economy and energy production in an attempt to eliminate CO2 emissions. All while doing nothing to limit growing CO2 emitters China and India.

But there is always someone crazier, especially on the environment and sadly the supposedly “pro-environment” protestors who attempted to disrupt a Democrat-sponsored meeting in Downtown Albuquerque yesterday are ultimately outside the boundaries of rational argument.

According to the ABQ Journal, protestors implacably oppose not only carbon sequestration, but also nuclear energy (some of the signs make that clear). As per the usual, the “only” supportable forms of energy among the extremists are wind and solar.

But, as the chart below from the Energy Information Administration highlights, “renewables” account for just 13% of all US energy consumption. And, those “renewables” include numerous dirty biofuels and hydroelectric which is not available in large swaths of the nation. Wind and solar combine for about 42% of “renewables” which means they account for a whopping 6% of all US energy consumed (after decades of heavy subsidies).

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Tipping Point NM episode 539: Developments at Estancia Valley Classical Academy

On this week’s interview Paul sits down with Estancia Valley Classical Academy parent Craig Springer and teacher Traci Erickson. EVCA was until recently affiliated with Hillsdale College and its Barney charter school project.

Paul believes EVCA is one of the “crown jewels” of New Mexico’s K-12 education system and developments at the school are critical to the movement for a freer Land of Enchantment.

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“Bidenomics” is losing the war on poverty

Americans are anxious about the US economy and for good reason. Americans are poorer now than they have been. Of course those of us who care about the federal government’s finances (Biden seems not to) are also concerned by the out-of-control debt that has been piled on in recent years.

But, as Stephen Moore points out in a new article, Biden’s policies have increased poverty. This is no surprise to anyone who understands basic economics. Blowing money on so-called “green” boondoggles, massive spending and inflation, and rampant federal regulations (including on energy) have caused poverty to worsen significantly under Biden. See the very telling chart below.

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