Sunday, April 2, 2023

Sen. Heinrich Introduces Bill To Modernize America's Electrical System

Resolution Emphasizes Investment in Rural and Tribal Communities


New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, along with 14 other senators, introduced the Electrifying America Future Energy Resolution. The resolution seeks to wean homes and businesses off of fossil fuels to more sustainable sources of energy. Over 100 organizations and nonprofits have voiced their support for the resolution. The announcement comes as Congressional Democrats are pushing for a $2 trillion infrastructure plan to combat climate change and invest in green energy.  

The New York Times reported that New Mexico is still dependent on coal as our primary source of energy, but that has been on a significant decline since 2004. A mix of stricter air regulations, the rise of natural gas and California’s decision to stop importing energy from out of state has led to a significant drop in the state’s dependence on coal. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Mexico has the highest solar energy potential in the nation. New Mexico has also set aggressive green energy goals. In 2019 Governor Lujan Grisham signed an ambitious energy transition law requiring at least 50 percent of the state's energy to be derived from renewable sources by 2035, increasing to 100 percent by 2045.

“Electrifying our homes and businesses is one of the surest climate actions that we can take right now. We can create millions of new jobs, reduce our energy bills and improve air quality and public health,” Heinrich said. He also added that it would create millions of union jobs around the country.

The resolution focuses on modernizing high-energy sectors, such as housing and businesses, on significantly reducing energy consumption and the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. The resolution emphasizes modernizing and investing in rural and Tribal communities, which would receive microgrids to modernize their transmission of electricity and a significant investment in the effects of air pollution and how to treat its effects in New Mexico. “This is a way to use already existing, proven technologies to dramatically reduce carbon pollution, create millions of new, good-paying jobs and secure a better, more equitable future for our communities,” Heinrich said.

Senator Ben Ray Luján is also sponsoring the bill and warned of the necessity of such action against climate change. “The threat of climate change demands Congress act to protect our planet for future generations. This resolution creates a roadmap to modernize America’s outdated electric grid and reduce the harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change,” Luján said. 

Fossil fuels have been on the decline since 2001 as the primary source of energy. The rise of natural gas and its availability has decreased the competitiveness of coal, along with decreasing costs of wind and solar power. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Heinrich and 14 Democrats to introduce the resolution. The other Senators were Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). Angus King, an independent senator from Maine also joined the resolution.

The resolution has faced criticism from Republicans about its cost and scope, and the fossil fuel industry has chimed in saying electric technologies are unaffordable.


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