FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2022
Nissa Erickson, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
[ALBUQUERQUE, NM] – Today, a broad coalition of clean energy, equity, community and consumer advocacy organizations called on state, tribal, city, and county leaders to take full advantage of the incredible opportunities presented by the federal Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure law to build a better future for people all across the region.
The groups delivered a letter
to hundreds of elected officials, noting that “new federal funds have enormous potential to save residents and businesses money on energy and transportation, create new jobs and expand prosperity – while also improving our health and protecting our climate. However, how states and local governments choose to implement new policies will have a large effect on their overall impact
In the letter, groups urged state and local leaders to maximize the benefits of new federal funds by aiming to:
- Save people money by reducing consumption of fuel and increasing renewable energy;
- Create green jobs and help residents find work in sustainable, forward-looking careers;
- Reduce climate-changing pollution in line with state, national and international climate preservation goals;
- Improve public health by investing in opportunities to cut soot and smog pollution;
- Advance equity by targeting programs and investments toward communities that have historically been left behind or subjected to disproportionate negative impacts; and to
- Do no harm by refraining from investing in projects that actively increase pollution, increase or extend reliance on fossil fuels, waste money, deepen inequities or impede a just transition for workers.
“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to imagine what a better future for New Mexico looks like, and then to make it real,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We’ve got to get it right.”
“These transformative investments put us on a path towards real solutions to the climate crisis,” said Pat O’Connell, Interim Clean Energy Director at Western Resource Advocates. “It’s an unprecedented opportunity, and as billions of dollars flow to states and local governments, it is critical that decision-makers work with stakeholders across their communities to make the best choices. This is their chance to identify and implement projects that advance the clean energy transition, provide equitable benefits to all people, create new good-paying jobs, and improve the resiliency of communities already experiencing the impacts of climate change.”
The letter outlines some of the many new opportunities available to state and local leaders, including:
- Large new rebate programs to help improve building energy efficiency and accelerate the deployment of efficient, electric appliances to save money, increase comfort and reduce pollution;
- Billions of dollars to invest in cheaper, cleaner electric vehicles, as well as money that could go toward transit, biking, and walking to give more people access to mobility and reduce the need to drive;
- Incentives to build compact, location-efficient cities and towns where residents can accomplish their daily tasks with less time, money and pollution.
- New and upgraded tax credits and funds to increase the supply of clean electricity and energy storage, and integrate that into our electric system by improving the flexibility, resiliency, and efficiency of the power grid and investing in grid expansion;
- New funding and incentives to improve industrial operations through efficiency and clean energy; and
- Billions of dollars that leaders can use to facilitate a Just Transition by helping workers and communities successfully benefit from progress toward a clean energy future, especially where legacy facilities are closing.
“Climate solutions are economic solutions,” said Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club – Rio Grande Chapter Director. “Energy-efficient, weatherized homes are affordable homes. Accessible electric vehicles save families money on gas. Green jobs put states like New Mexico ahead on the road from fossil fuels to renewables. But we need our elected officials to steer funds to programs that benefit our climate, our communities and our families for our vision of a sustainable economy to truly take shape.”
“The Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represent a historic win for local, tribal, and state governments to make bold investments to address the climate crisis,” said Western Leaders Network Executive Director Gwen Lachelt. “Public officials now have an unprecedented opportunity to secure these funds to build diverse and climate-resilient communities and economies, achieve environmental justice, protect public health, and ensure a bright future for future generations.”
“With new federal funds available to state and local leaders, New Mexico has an exciting opportunity to invest in the health and well-being of our children, our climate, and our economy,” said Amber Wallin, Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children. We look forward to working with our elected officials so that together, we can open new doors to cleaner air and water and a more sustainable economy.”
The letter notes that there are resources available to help local governments navigate important decisions and access new grants, such as the Local Infrastructure Hub (localinfrastructure.org). The non-profit organizations that drafted the letter plan to work with state and local officials to provide advice and assistance toward maximizing overall benefits.
The letter was signed by representatives of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Western Resource Advocates, Conservation Voters New Mexico, Western Leaders Network, Sierra Club – Rio Grande Chapter, 350 New Mexico, New Mexico Children’s Action Fund, Moms Clean Air Force New Mexico, Center for Civic Policy, New Mexico & El Paso Interfaith Power and Light, OLÉ Education Fund, Do Good LLC, Climate Advocates Voces Unidas (CAVU), New Mexico Voices for Children and the Semilla Project.