Nevada and New Mexico will evaluate implementing cap-and-trade systems through executive orders from their respective governors. 

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued a directive on 22 November 2019 ordering state officials to evaluate “market-based mechanisms” to achieve the 2030 reduction target of 45% below 2005 levels, which was established earlier this year in Senate Bill 254. New Mexico has already been considering an ETS under a similar executive order issued in January 2019. A newly released strategy document providing initial recommendations and a status update from an interagency task force puts further weight behind emissions trading as a potential tool to achieve New Mexico’s 2030 climate target of 45% below 2005 levels.

Sisolak’s executive order follows climate action during the Nevada’s 2019 legislative session that raises its renewable portfolio standards and mandates an annual, cross-sectoral GHG inventory. The executive order culminates in a state climate strategy by 1 December 2020 that will outline policy recommendations.  

New Mexico’s interagency climate task force declared in its first strategy document that current and planned policies “will likely fall short of our goals without a broader market-based program to reduce carbon usage and emissions”. The document goes on to state that the New Mexico Environment Department and Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources will evaluate options for a future ETS that would result in the most cost-effective approach, including by reaching out to states that already operate cap-and-trade programs. The next report from the interagency task force is due September 2020.

The two sparsely populated western states have similar political makeups, with Democratic majorities in their state legislatures and recently elected Democratic governors.