The Chair of the New Mexico Environment Improvement Board, Gregory Green, is plagued with apparent conflicts of interest that seem to undermine his impartiality in hearing a petition to impose a statewide, unprecedented cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Green works for a national environmental advocacy organization that seeks to persuade governments to impose caps on greenhouse gas emissions on the theory that such gases are causing global warming. He is also the registered lobbyist for a coalition of environmental organizations that includes some of the same organizations that have signed onto the petition pending before the EIB.
“The citizens of our state cannot expect to receive unbiased, well-founded decisions when those in the decision-making position have an obvious bias,” says Marita Noon of CARE, Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, a group that oppose the statewide emissions cap regulation. “The conflicts of interest in this story should shelve the EIB’s plans for a state-wide cap and trade.”
The petition to have the EIB impose a statewide greenhouse gas emissions cap was filed in 2008 by New Energy Economy. It seeks dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases to 25% below 1990 levels. Hearings are finally scheduled to begin in March 2010.
In November 2009, ten more organizations signed onto that petition. One of those organizations, the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, has retained Green as its Santa Fe lobbyist. On January 16, 2009, The Albuquerque Journal reported that the NMWF had withdrawn its name from the petition because it would have created a conflict of interest for Green. He stated that, because he represented this group as a paid lobbyist before the Legislature, the conflict of interest would have required that he recuse himself from hearing the petition.
In a telephone interview, Green disclosed that he has been retained as a lobbyist during the 2010 session by the Coalition for Clean and Affordable Energy. The Center for Advancing Sustainable Architecture and NM Physicians for Social Responsibility are two of the 14 organizations that comprise this coalition. They are also two of the organizations that have joined the petition pending before the EIB. Green is thus presently in the position of hearing a petition signed by two organizations that are helping to pay his fees as a lobbyist.
Green also is under contract to serve as the New Mexico spokesman for the Pew Environment Group. PEG is a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation’s largest and most active funders of anti-global warming activists. PEG runs the Pew Campaign on Global Warming, which on its website insists that the United States “must take steps over the next five years to set mandatory limits on greenhouse emissions.” This is the very same policy proposal the EIB is being asked to impose upon New Mexico.
Notwithstanding his employment by an organization that wants mandatory greenhouse gas emissions to become public policy, Green insists he has no conflict of interest. Pew, he says, works only at the national level. “It is not doing work in New Mexico,” Green said. He admits he has worked to promote policies promoting capping emissions, but, he points out that was only at the federal level. He also believes mankind is exacerbating a natural warming of the earth–a claim petitioners will have to prove to provide a factual and scientific basis for their proposed emissions cap. Nonetheless, he maintains he will be unbiased in considering a petition to impose greenhouse gas emission caps for New Mexico.
Contrary to Green’s contention that Pew is not working in New Mexico, on June 10, 2009, the Pew Environment Group released a study claiming that “clean energy jobs” in New Mexico which reduce greenhouse emissions could be an economic boon to the state. That report was released by Green as the New Mexico spokesman for the Pew Environment Group. Similar studies making similar claims were released by the Pew Environment Group about the same time in other states. Here is a June 10, 2009, release for Michigan using, in places, nearly identical language to the New Mexico press release.
On November 9, 2009, Green, on behalf of Pew Environment Group, released a poll claiming support in New Mexico for federal caps on greenhouse gas emissions. The poll focused on voters in the Second Congressional District, represented by Harry Teague.
Green claims that Pew Environment Group is working only on federal and not state greenhouse emission caps. But Pew Environment Trust is in a coalition in Nevada called RebuildNevada that seeks imposition of greenhouse gas emission caps.
Representatives of industry groups who have expressed concern about the emission cap petition were asked for comment on Green’s apparent conflicts of interest. Other than Marita Noon, they declined comment out of concern that they and their member businesses might have to appear in front of Green in the future on other matters.