June 3, 2021
Santa Fe, New Mexico (June 3, 2021) – New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, along with conservation and community groups, today filed a motion requesting that the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) recognize the scientific consensus on climate change.
Specifically, the motion would have the commission acknowledge that climate change is caused by human activity resulting in an accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and a predominant source for those greenhouse gas emissions is the combustion of fossil fuels used by power plants, vehicles, buildings, and industry. The motion requests that the New Mexico PRC accept climate science as part of its decision making in the Avangrid-PNM merger docket.
Western Resource Advocates, the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, Tó Nizhóní Ání, and the NAVA Education Project joined the attorney general in filing the motion. The Sierra Club, New Energy Economy, Interwest Energy Alliance, and the merger’s joint applicants (Avangrid, PNM) support the motion.
“The direct consequences of climate change have been and will be wildfires, droughts, floods, extreme weather events, and rising sea levels,” the motion states. “Unless the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is quickly and substantially curtailed, the adverse consequences for public health, welfare, and safety; the economy and the environment; and for all living things, is likely to be severe, widespread, and irreversible.” These are among the findings that the groups are asking the PRC to recognize as scientific facts and are based on a consensus of scientific reports and studies cited in the motion.
The motion was filed as part of the New Mexico PRC’s consideration of the proposed merger of Avangrid and PNM Resources, where Avangrid has made several important commitments to address climate change – including decarbonization goals well ahead of those otherwise required by New Mexico law. The merger has received six approvals from various state and federal regulators and now awaits a decision from the New Mexico PRC.
“The motion filed today is important because, if granted, it would mean the New Mexico PRC has determined that human-caused climate change and its likely consequences are no longer debatable. It’s a scientific fact, like gravity and the sunrise,” said Steve Michel, deputy director of Western Resource Advocates’ Clean Energy Program.
“To address climate change, we need an energy transition. Renewable energy. Energy efficiency. Weatherization. Electric cars. Asking the commission to acknowledge the scientific fact of climate change reminds us of why we are doing all of this,” said Stephanie Dzur, attorney for the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy.
“The urgency of the climate crisis demands a holistic, all-of-government approach, which is fundamental to securing a diverse and sustainable economy for New Mexico, and a livable planet for all New Mexicans,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney for Western Environmental Law Center, which represents the community groups. “The commission has an opportunity to help lead our state and the nation by recognizing the science and timeline of the climate crisis and by allowing this reality to help guide its decision-making.”
With more frequent wildfires, intense drought, and prolonged heat waves, New Mexicans are already facing the severe consequences of climate change. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, rising temperatures have been steady and persistent across the Southwest in recent decades, affecting availability of water, wildfire conditions, and utilities’ forecasts of energy use.