A little more than a month after repealing New Mexico’s cap and trade program, the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) on Friday (March 16) repealed the second of two climate regulations passed in the final weeks of the administration of former Gov. Bill Richardson — this one calling for a limit on greenhouse gas emissions.
“We examined the rule thoroughly,” EIB chairwoman Deborah Peacock told reporters moments after the board voted 5-0 to repeal what’s commonly called Rule 100, that mandated that generating facilities in the state could not emit more than 25,000 metric tons of CO2. “I think we had the benefit of information that the previous board didn’t have in order to repeal it.”Members of the board listed a number of reasons for repealing the regulation, ranging from questions about whether it would have any effect on improving air quality to the economic burdens the rule might have on industries to what the board called its vague language to whether the regulation has been superseded by federal action by the Environmental Protection Agency that went into effect in January of 2011.
It didn’t take long for environmentalists to blast the decision.
“Polluters have spent so much money tying this carbon reduction rule in legal knots,” said Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of New Energy Economy. “And they finally succeeded in orchestrating a sham process that has them profiting at the expense of New Mexican families and businesses.”
The original rule was adopted by a board appointed by Gov. Richardson and critics called it stacked with environmentalists determined to institute sweeping regulations.
The current board has been appointed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who has been a fervent detractor of the rules passed in November and December of 2010. This time, it’s environmental advocates who say the EIB is packed with members friendly to industry.
In a news release, Nanasi said, “poisonous toxins pour from the coal plant smokestacks every day; responsible government would put a stop to that, but Martinez’s EIB has been hijacked by special interests.”
“We’ve been completely open-minded,” board member Elizabeth Ryan said during Friday’s hearing.
“We don’t get paid for any of this,” board member John Volkerding said, adding that “characterizing the governor as my boss is completely inaccurate.”
Environmental groups have already sought to appeal the February ruling by the EIB. It’s a virtual certainty there will court action after Friday’s ruling.
To read about the EIB’s repeal of the cap and trade program back on Feb. 6, click here.
Capitol Report New Mexico also looked into the campaign contributions of the Richardson-appointed EIB members and the Martinez-appointed EIB and found that the Richardson EIB was much more active than the current board. Click here for that story.