SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – What does the future of electric vehicles look like in New Mexico? It could be a future with more affordable “EVs” if a bill to offer tax credits continues making progress.

House Bill 412, sponsored by a handful of Democratic legislators, would provide a tax credit to help make electric vehicles affordable for New Mexicans. The bill proposes a $2,500 credit for each purchase or $4,000 for low-income households (making under 200% percent the federal poverty level).

The bill also offers a credit for installing charging hardware. And bill supporters say now is the time to move towards the future of electric vehicles.

“Kodak forgot to get on board with digital photography, and they’re out of business,” Camilla Feibelman, the Director of the Rio Grande Chapter of Sierra Club, said in a House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee meeting Thursday. “So, we’ve got to get on board too.”

When combined with federal rebates, the bill could help purchasers save up to $10,000 off the cost of an electric vehicle, supporters say. And somewhere around 3,300 New Mexicans per year might be able to receive a credit.

Economics aside, much of Thursday’s discussion was about the potential climate impacts of electric vehicles. A point of debate was whether or not electric vehicle batteries are recyclable. One member of the public said the batteries aren’t recyclable and that mining the materials sometimes uses questionable labor practices.

Tom Solomon, from the climate-focused group, 350 New Mexico, said that companies are currently making investments into recycling and that the idea that the batteries can’t be recycled is false. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Energy notes that components of commonly used battery types can be recycled and that the federal government has sponsored research on electric vehicle battery recycling.

In addition, Feibelman argued that when you look at the whole picture, not just the batteries, the environmental benefits of an electric car, over the life of the car, are higher for electric cars than gasoline cars. The bill alone, Feibelman adds, isn’t likely to have a huge impact on global climate change, but every little, odd drop in the bucket helps.

The potential climate impact of the bill, that could help put thousands of additional electric vehicles on the road, “is less than an odd drop of water in the middle of Niagara Falls,” Rep. Larry R. Scott (R-Hobbs & Lovington), fired back. He suggested that instead of an EV tax credit, the money could be better-spent on something else.

Given the climate-focused nature of the debate, it’s worth noting that vehicle emissions are not New Mexico’s largest source of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. Data from a 2020 report by Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. done for the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, shows the single largest source is actually the oil and gas industry.

Ultimately, the committee voted to pass the bill. But it still has to make its way through more rounds of debate before electric vehicle credits become a reality.