It may have been a highly technical decision and it may or may not have any impact on future decisions the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) could make regarding rolling back controversial regulations that were passed late last year, but the New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday (July 27) handed a net victory for environmentalists.
The court ruled that the New Energy Economy (NEE), an environmental group that was behind a measure the EIB approved last December aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state, won the right to intervene as a full party in an appeal of the carbon reduction rules made by New Mexico utility PNM.
What does all that mean? In essence, the court’s decision promises to give NEE greater standing if the newly-constituted EIB decides to reverse restrictions the previous board passed last November and December.
The EIB still has the right to try to reverse the regulations, which have come under harsh criticism from business interests and the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez but the state high court ruled that an appeal by PNM looking to mediate the carbon cap rule with the EIB had to include NEE as a full party in any negotiations and NEE, in the words of Chief Justice Charles Daniels “cannot be stripped of their status.”
In a related case Wednesday, the NM Supreme Court ruled against environmentalists. A group from the town of Mesquite wanted to intervene on an appeal made by Helena Chemical’s to its state-required air quality permit but the court said that, unlike the NEE, the Mesquite organization does not have the right to be a party on appeal.