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'The science could not be clearer.' Udall, Heinrich among climate bill's co-sponsors

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The Kayenta Solar Project is pictured on July 6, 2017 in Kayenta, Arizona. The project is the first large-scale solar energy facility on the reservation and operated by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.

 FARMINGTON — The two senators representing New Mexico are among the 32 Democrats co-sponsoring a bill calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Clean Economy Act of 2020, which was introduced this week by Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, calls on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set goals that would lead to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It also directs the EPA to establish interim targets for emissions in 2025, 2030 and 2040.

In addition, the bill names several other federal agencies that will be required to implement policies aimed at reducing emissions.

A press release from Sen. Tom Udall’s office cited a United Nations Environment Programme report released in November. The report states that global emissions must be cut by 7.6% annually over the next decade to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.

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Sen. Tom Udall

“The science could not be clearer: human-caused climate change is an existential threat to our planet and our children’s future — and New Mexico is in the bull’s eye,” Udall said in the press release.

He is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.

Udall highlighted his father’s efforts as a three-time Congressman and Secretary of the Interior. His father advocated for solar energy and played a key role in enacting environmental legislation including the Clear Air, Water Quality and Clean Water Restoration acts.

“Nearly 50 years ago, my father, Stewart Udall, sounded the alarm on human-caused environmental tragedies,” Udall continued. “Half a century later, we are running out of time to halt the greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The consequences of inaction are staggering for our economy and the natural world, and building our green economy is critical to ensuring that the United States continues to lead the global economy for years to come. This legislation is also fundamental to protect communities in New Mexico that live on the front lines of climate change and pollution. Passing this legislation is not only the right action, it is a necessary action.”

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A Tesla charges at TownPlace Suites, Friday, June 21, 2019, in Farmington. Town Place Suites is one of two hotels  in the city with Tesla charging stations.

The legislation does not call for an elimination of fossil fuels, although it calls for deployment of low emission or no emission technologies in the electricity, transportation and building technology sectors.

The bill states that by 2050 the amount of anthropogenic emissions released into the atmosphere must be equal to or less than the amount of emissions sequestered.

This could involve using methane capture and destruction technologies or carbon capture technology, including direct air capture.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, also stressed the importance of the legislation in the press release issued this week.

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U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich

“The climate crisis often feels too great, too complex, and too difficult to fix,” he said. “But the truth is, we already have the creativity, workforce and technology to dramatically reduce carbon pollution. All we need is the political will to get it done.”

Heinrich said he is proud that New Mexico is leading the way in transitioning to clean energy, citing the Energy Transition Act’s mandate of 100-percent carbon-free power by 2045 for many electric utilities in the state.

“We need to set the same types of ambitious and achievable targets at the federal level,” Heinrich continued. “As we move toward more clean power generation and a carbon-free economy, we can create thousands of new high-paying careers all across the country.”

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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