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Good News, New Mexico - Burque bicycles, electric vehicles, green banks, y mas
In a world of increasing violence and temperature, we all need a little good news every now and again.
Let’s face it - our airways have been filled with terrible news lately. There’s increasing violence in Ukraine, Gaza, Israel, and Africa. We have dysfunction of unprecedented proportion in the U.S. House of Representatives. And global tensions are rising as China seemingly prepares to make a move on Taiwan. All of these issues could lead to economic instability, energy insecurity, and more - increasing the demand for oil globally. This would likely be good for New Mexican state tax revenue, but bad for global peace and the climate.
While I do not intend to diminish or distract anyone from those global atrocities, I hope I can add a small bright spot to your outlook on the world moving forward by pointing out some of the good things happening in the climate fight in New Mexico. After all, it’s healthy to recognize the small wins along the way as we run the marathon of correcting the climate.
Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act and other progressive climate policies, New Mexico has made decent progress toward decarbonizing in the last several years. The prospect of war halting worldwide decarbonization efforts is scary and worth worrying about, but we should also recognize all of the good things that are happening right now in the climate fight.
New Mexico state vehicles are going electric
Governor MLG announced that the fleet of state vehicles that aren’t cop cars will go electric by 2035. The state already had several electric vehicles for state employees to use, but it was only a few. I couldn’t find how many vehicles the state owns currently, but my guess is it is several thousand.
The Governor doesn’t expect to electrify state police vehicles, firefighting trucks, or other heavy-duty trucks just yet. The reasoning wasn’t publicly addressed, but I imagine the hesitation is due to range anxiety, vehicle prices (especially for heavy-duty electric fire and work trucks), charging station logistics, etc.
MLG also announced lawmakers will be taking up an EV tax credit this winter in the next legislative session. I know, she literally just vetoed an EV tax credit like 6 months ago, but maybe this one will be better somehow? Only time will tell.
The New Mexico Green Bank is going to happen
It’s been a big week for the Governor of New Mexico - several of the goals Democrats couldn’t accomplish during the 2023 legislative session are being accomplished without appropriations. After the Green Bank bill died in the 2023 legislative session, its future was unsure. The bill would have created the Climate Investment Center and Fund with an appropriation of $20 million for initial administrative and start-up costs.
Since the bill’s demise, a working group consisting of state officials and the Coalition of Sustainable Communities NM kept fighting for the Investment Center’s creation. Governor Lujan-Grisham announced the creation of the NM Climate Investment Center last week at an event at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The Investment Center may not have the initial appropriation from the state to get going, but it can apply for GHG Reduction Fund monies from the Inflation Reduction Act, and probably other grants. According to the Governor’s office, the investment center was estimated to attract up to $500 million of funding for clean energy and other climate-friendly projects in New Mexico.
Here’s an excerpt from the Investment Center’s website about its intended focus:
The New Mexico Climate Investment Center is creating a portfolio of loan products for residential and commercial customers to increase adoption of mature, commercially viable technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. The Center will focus on:
Closing financial gaps and strengthening existing financial institutions’ ability to lend to non-traditional borrowers;
Providing direct benefits for low-income, disadvantaged, and tribal communities;
Reducing energy burdens through loans that support energy efficiency in buildings, accelerate ownership of rooftop solar, provide lower-cost community solar subscriptions, and scale up house retrofits supporting energy efficiency adoption.
The Santa Fe National Forest is expanding
The Santa Fe National Forest is growing by 2,092 acres thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. By purchasing the Valley of the Spirit Ranch, the public gets to enjoy more of Northern New Mexico’s beauty for generations to come. Conserving land and giving it back to nature is one of the best ways to combat climate change.
The expansion will also benefit the Village of Jemez Springs as residents and tourists will now be able to enjoy the national forest without driving leaving town.
Next week is ‘Bike thru Burque Week’
Cycling in lieu of driving is a great way to decrease your carbon footprint, stay fit, have fun, and foster community health. This week-long event is a testament to how far the Albuquerque cycling community has come in the last several years. The Duke City is still dominated by car-centric design and inhospitable roads for cyclists and pedestrians, but we’ve come a long way, and one ‘Bike thru Burque Week’ at a time we can get better.
Starting on Sunday you and your family can enjoy a week full of challenges, scavenger hunts, informational pop-up tables, bike races, and more. What I most look forward to is the CiQlovía event on Sunday, October 22nd where Kathryn Avenue will be closed off to cars and we can all pretend we live in Amsterdam for a few hours. I urge you to take the week to rediscover your love of the outdoors and imagine an Albuquerque where you have more freedom to ride your bike for daily tasks.
Learn more and commit to ride at www.bikethruburque.com.
Abq cyclists make a statement
A swarm of cyclists made their voices heard at a public comment meeting on Monday, October 16th regarding the city’s proposed changes to 4th Street between Menaul and Candelaria. The proposed update would reduce traffic from 2 lanes in each direction to one lane and include on-street parking. Cyclists showed up in droves to express their concern over the lack of bicycle lanes on that stretch of 4th Street.
If you’ve ever cycled on 4th between Menaul and Candelaria, you’d know that it’s a scary experience as there’s no room to hide from the speeding trucks and cars that seem to be in a hurry to leave this blighted area. Cyclists made sure to remind the committee of a city ordinance that their new plan didn’t seem to follow. The Albuquerque City Council in 2019 updated the Complete Streets Ordinance to “incorporate higher standards related to the implementation of complete streets within the city.” A street is deemed complete when it serves all users - motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders. The new plan is far from being a “complete street,” and should at least include bike lanes, trees, and wider sidewalks.
I mark this incident as good news because the poor plan didn’t go unnoticed. Bike ABQ alerted their following to show up and speak their mind before more car-centric infrastructure is shoved down our throats. Whether our voices were heard or not is still unsure, but at least we were organized. In all honesty, all I want is to be able to safely ride my bike to Mary & Titos.
If you don’t already follow Bike ABQ, you should. They’re a good resource to find out about policies that affect your ability to cycle in Albuquerque, upcoming cycling events, and more. Learn more at bikeabq.com.
If you’re still reading, congratulations on making it to the end of the second installment of CE’s Good News, New Mexico. Maybe this is a new regular segment, maybe not.
Here’s some more good climate news from New Mexico and abroad if you’re still needing a pick-me-up: