While there is no breaking news on gravel mining, pipeline safety or funding the feasibility study for the Hike/Bike Placitas project, there is plenty of good news this month.
Victory: Pathways reports that the Sandia – Jemez Mountains Bernalillo Corridor is included in the state’s high priority wildlife corridor projects. Recommendations include overpasses, underpass culverts, a bridge underpass and wildlife exclusion fencing. Santa Ana and San Felipe Pueblos are committed to working with NMDOT to establish wildlife crossing structures on their lands. Read the entire NM Wildlife Corridor Plan.
Legislation: President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 which contains meaningful action on climate change including wind and solar tax credits, clean energy innovation, electric vehicle incentives and methane leak mitigation. This is truly historic but, like most legislation, it is a compromise and there are details to both celebrate and hate. High Country News just published a detailed analysis of the bill which you can read here. The main points are:
- The requirement that the administration must offer two million acres for oil and gas leases does not represent an escalation of leasing or fossil fuel extraction and its impacts should be offset by hikes on royalties and fees. But, this makes it almost impossible for the Interior Dept. to impose a leasing pause or ban.
- The increases in tax credits for carbon capture incentivizes industries to install the expensive equipment needed. But it could keep some coal powered plants operating that would otherwise shut down.
- The incentive to curb emissions of methane is the government’s first-ever tax on greenhouse gas emissions But, the fee only applies to big producers, leaving out thousands of oil and gas wells owned by smaller operators.
- The tax credits for purchase of electric vehicles makes it easier for folks to ditch their internal combustion engines. But, the requirement that some materials in the batteries be sourced domestically will put pressure on the government to expedite mining permits.
- The tax credit for clean hydrogen production doesn’t differentiate between green hydrogen (which uses renewable energy to extract the hydrogen from water), pink hydrogen (which uses nuclear power) and blue hydrogen (which uses natural gas).
- The tax credits for existing nuclear reactors does not address issues with radioactive waste and ignores the damage the uranium industry has already done to Western landscapes and communities.