(The Center Square) – After New Mexico’s Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan voted for the Inflation Reduction Act and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested that Americans buy electric vehicles to reduce their costs of gas at the pump, neither senator would confirm if they drive electric vehicles or responded to questions about how New Mexicans would be able to afford purchasing one.

Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who co-chairs the Electrification Caucus, says the act, now signed into law by President Joe Biden, will “provide upfront, point-of-sale rebates for the purchase and installation of electric appliances and equipment in single-family homes and multifamily buildings, with additional support for low- and moderate-income households.”

The new law includes incentives for consumers to purchase new and used electric vehicles and manufacturers to develop “clean and electric technologies – from heat pumps and wind turbines to batteries, solar components and EVs.” It establishes a new consumer rebates program to “make the economic, climate, and health benefits of home electrification more affordable for all households,” he adds, and “revamped investment and production tax credits … [to] transform the way we generate and deliver clean, reliable, and affordable power to our homes and businesses.”

When asked if they, their family members, or anyone on their staffs drive electric vehicles, neither senator’s office replied to requests for comment. The Center Square also asked them how to explain how New Mexicans should purchase electric vehicles when the average salary in the state is less than $52,000 a year and the average price of electric vehicles is $64,000.

The nonprofit Power The Future also asked similar questions and didn’t receive answers, its communications director, Larry Behrens, told The Center Square.

“Their refusal to answer a simple question speaks volumes,” he said. “Senators Lujan and Heinrich breathlessly support every green initiative when it’s our families footing the bill, but they won’t put their own money where their votes are. This is nothing more than another tax break for the rich that won’t help New Mexico’s struggling families.”

According to a new study by BlastPoint, purchasers of electric vehicles generally earn higher incomes, are mostly married, live in single-family homes with a garage/driveway, most are homeowners with college and graduate degrees and own two or more vehicles. Lower income individuals, mostly single adults, those who live in areas without charging access, are renters with high school degrees who don’t own their own vehicles generally have not purchased EVs.

In 2021, BlastPoint found that those ready to purchase EVs earned at least $150,000 annually, owned their own homes worth at least $275,000, owned two vehicles and had an average daily commute of 27 minutes.

According to Kelley Blue Book Electrified Vehicle Sales Report: Q3 2021, 1,057,490 electric vehicles were sold in the first three quarters last year, a 108.2% increase in sales over the first three quarters of 2020.

The auto industry already has been taking steps to improve environmental safety and expanding its use of innovative technologies with no tax credits or incentives offered by the federal government, critics of the Inflation Reduction Act note.

New Mexico Oil and Gas Association president Doug Ackerman said in a statement, “Every day, the oil and gas industry in New Mexico responsibly produces cleaner, more cost-effective energy to Americans who are struggling in the face of record high inflation. We do so while contributing only 3 parts per billion out of the approximate 70 parts per billion of ozone levels in the portion of the Permian Basin that lies in New Mexico.”

Unlike federally subsidized companies that provide intermittent wind and solar generated energy, the New Mexico oil and natural gas industry contributed $5.3 billion to state and local governments in tax revenue in fiscal 2021, the highest amount ever recorded in state history.

New Mexico also became the second-largest oil producer in the United States in fiscal 2021 behind Texas, generating $27 billion in annual economic activity.

The New Mexico oil and natural gas industry funds 35% of the state’s entire budget, more than any other industry by far, and supports more than 134,000 jobs.

This year, the state recorded a budget surplus of $440 million more than projected largely due to increased oil and natural gas production.
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