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City Petitions Air Board to Adopt Clean Cars Rule

Rule would improve air quality in the Metro area with stricter emissions standards for motor vehicles

Today, the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Joint Air Quality Program (Air Quality Program), which administers and enforces local air quality laws for the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County on behalf of the City’s Environmental Health Department, petitioned the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board (Air Board), asking it to adopt new regulations that implement California’s motor vehicle emission standards beginning with model year 2026.

The Air Quality Program, in partnership with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), developed the proposed Clean Cars Rule over a period of eight months with extensive stakeholder engagement. NMED recently petitioned the State’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) to adopt a nearly identical rule. Together, the Clean Cars Rules will work as part of a statewide program to ensure statewide compliance and cleaner air for all New Mexicans.

“We’re requesting the Clean Cars Rule in step with the Keller Administration’s agenda to make Albuquerque more sustainable,” said Environmental Health Deputy Director Mara Elana Burstein. “This rule will be an important tool to mitigate the effects of climate change, reduce air pollution, and improve the health of all our residents.”

If adopted, the proposed Clean Cars Rule would impose stricter emission standards for new motor vehicles in New Mexico beginning with model year 2026, the earliest that federal law allows New Mexico to implement the new standards. The Clean Cars Rule’s emission standards will improve air quality by reducing ground-level ozone and emissions of greenhouse gases and particulate matter. The transportation sector is the second largest source of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. It is also a major source of ozone-forming pollutants. Local ozone levels are rising, which negatively impacts public health, especially for vulnerable communities.

The City is asking the Air Board to put the petition on the agenda for its February 9, 2022 meeting, and for the Air Board to consider authorizing a joint hearing with the EIB to hear the proposed Clean Cars Rules together. If the Air Board authorizes a hearing, it is expected to be scheduled in May 2022. Considering the City’s and State’s proposed rules together will ensure the standards are consistent statewide in accordance with federal requirements.