RGF opinion piece: Electric vehicle rule is unsustainable and will kill jobs

The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday, November 21st, 2023.

After four long days of testimony and public comment the Environmental Improvement Board decided recently to move forward with Gov. Michelle 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 EVs in New Mexico from the current 3% of all new vehicles to 43% by summer of 2026 and 82% by summer of 2031.

That may seem like a long time away, but the summer of 2026 is less than three years from now. 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 that 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 seeking 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 KeepYourCarsNM.com 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 “EV’s 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.

The question is how many jobs will be killed in New Mexico? How many people and businesses will leave our state or choose not to come here due to the adoption of another ill-conceived public policy? We don’t know, but what we do know is that despite having the benefit of a large federal infrastructure, and the jobs and tax dollars it brings, and being the second-leading oil producing state in the entire country, New Mexico remains poor and is losing its young people.

In the name of environmental “sustainability” our governor has made New Mexico’s future less sustainable.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, 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.

Another blue state unleashes electric vehicle mandate: 'Walking the walk'

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One Reply to “RGF opinion piece: Electric vehicle rule is unsustainable and will kill jobs”

  1. Despite the decision of the EIB, Albuquerque residents will continue to overwhelmingly vote for Dems and all their policies.

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