ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After a public comment period, featuring both opposition and support, New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board voted to approve rules that require vehicle manufacturers to boost the percentage of zero-emissions vehicles they deliver to New Mexico.

Proponents say the new rules will make it easier for some locals to buy electric vehicles and will reduce pollution. Opponents say it will make it harder for some New Mexicans to find and afford the vehicles they want.

Here’s how the rules work:

  • They’re modeled after rules in California that were originally developed to reduce smog.
  • In 2026, car manufacturers will have to make sure 43% of the cars and light trucks they deliver to New Mexico are zero-emissions vehicles
  • That percentage will increase each year until 2031, when 82% of the vehicles they deliver to New Mexico will be zero-emissions.
  • The rules also apply to commercial heavy duty trucks, but they follow different percentages.
  • Manufacturers can get credits towards their percentage if they sell an excess of zero-emissions vehicles in a state like California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington. Manufacturers can also trade credits with other manufacturers.

The rules aren’t exactly new. That is, the state already has clean car rules that were put in place in 2022. The latest effort updates those with the idea of boosting electric and zero-emissions vehicle sales.

The updated rules were approved in a 3-2 vote by the state’s Environmental Improvement Board, a group of governor-appointed members. The rules were also approved by the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board, a group appointed by Albuquerque City Council and Bernalillo County.

Before the rules were approved, hundreds of comments were sent in to the Environmental Improvement Board. The Rio Grande Foundation – a nonprofit advocating individual freedom, limited government, and economic opportunity – launched an initiative to oppose the rules on the basis that such rules should go through a more accountable rulemaking process.

“Any regulations on the purchase of vehicles in New Mexico [should] be passed through the legislature,” Paul Gessing, the president of the Rio Grande Foundation, told KRQE News 13 before the vote on the rules. Gessing points out that other regulations, such as proposed clean fuel standards, have been shot down by the legislature.

Others have supported the rules that aim to bring more electric vehicles to New Mexico. “Even one trip weekly to town adds high fuel costs to our budget and a lot of greenhouse gasses to our carbon footprint,” Derek Roff said during the public comment period. “To reduce our carbon emissions from driving and to save money, I would buy a used electric vehicle today, if I could find a good one at a good price. However, there are not many available because relatively few electric cars have been sold in this state over the past five years.”

Now that the rules have been passed, New Mexico is looking to expand infrastructure to support a rise in electric vehicles. The governor’s administration will likely ask for $55 million from the legislature to expand charging networks in the state, according to the environment department.