ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – President Donald Trump signed an executive order to undo the Clean Power Plan yesterday, an Environmental Protection Agency plan that aimed to have New Mexico getting at least 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The clean-energy sector has provided 9,000 jobs in the state so far, mostly in rural areas. And that’s who will be most threatened by rolling back the rules to clean up power plants, according to Christoper Ramirez, director of the Juntos program at Conservation Voters of New Mexico.
Ramirez thinks the people who live in these areas should have the power to decide what their environment is like.
“When we roll back these regulations, the people that are most impacted – low-income communities of color, not only in Albuquerque but, for example, in the Four Corners area – those people who are most impacted often are not the people making decisions about how to reduce the air contamination and pollution,” he explained.
The Clean Power Plan stated that fossil fuels “will continue to be a critical component of America’s energy future,” but required them to operate cleaner and more efficiently. However, the Trump administration sees making power plants install more pollution controls as “over-regulation.”
The City of Taos took the Clean Power Plan seriously, with an ultimate goal to use 100 percent renewable energy one day, and Ramirez says that enthusiasm for cleaner air can spread to other communities, no matter what the federal position on clean energy or air pollution.
“We know that what we’re going to have to do is really focus during the Trump administration on local efforts – cities, villages, towns, but also counties,” he said. “And at the state level, we can actually be trendsetters on not only renewable energy, but also on local control of energy as a solution.”
Ramirez adds he’s excited about what technology has brought to the renewable-energy transition. So, he says what appears as a setback could instead inspire New Mexico to work harder for cleaner air, better health and continued job growth in clean energy.