EPA restores New Mexico’s authority to set and enforce clean vehicle standards

March 9, 2022

Travis Madsen, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)


[SANTA FE, NM] – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restored the right of states to implement tougher emission standards for new passenger vehicles. This action finally resolves the Trump Administration’s multi-year attempt to roll back federal vehicle emissions and mileage rules and block states from setting stronger vehicle tailpipe emissions standards than the federal government.

The move paves the way for New Mexico to join 17 other states and Washington D.C. in adopting and enforcing the Advanced Clean Cars program. To complement action on passenger vehicles, New Mexico should join the six other states that have adopted all or part of the Advanced Clean Trucks program. These policies both limit tailpipe pollution for new vehicles and speed the introduction of vehicles that operate with zero emissions.

“The way is clear for New Mexico to charge full speed ahead on clean vehicles,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.

“The state can use the full power of the Clean Air Act to cut pollution, save money, improve public health and protect our climate.”

“This is good news for public health, environmental protection and our current climate crisis,” said Dr. Virginia Necochea, Executive Director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. “It’s important for New Mexico to join other states in adopting stronger emission standards for new cars and trucks. Lower smog-causing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions will especially benefit low-income communities of color who continue to bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution and global warming. Transportation plays a significant role in community health and in climate justice. Improved air quality and a faster transition to zero emission vehicles are environmental justice issues.”

“Thanks to the Biden Administration for recognizing the importance of state leadership in reducing air pollution, and thank you to New Mexico leaders, including Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas, who have fought tirelessly to defend the role of states in achieving the nation’s clean air goals,” concluded Madsen.


In December 2021, the Environmental Improvement Board agreed to consider adopting Clean Car Standards, which cover new passenger vehicles, at the request of the Lujan Grisham administration. At the end of January, the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County petitioned the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board (Air Board) to also adopt the rules. The Air Board granted the petition on February 9. A joint state and local hearing on the rules will begin on May 4.

Adopting the rules would bring major benefits to New Mexico. Cleaning up passenger vehicles in line with the state climate strategy will save New Mexicans more than $20 billion through mid-century. Adopting similar rules for medium- and heavy-duty trucks would bring additional savings, along with healthier air and less climate change.


The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. swenergy.org