Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, has demanded that the majority of the Environmental Improvement Board recuse itself because of conflicts of interest and substantial questions about their fairness and impartiality. The demand was made at the March1, 2010, hearing to receive public comment on the petition by New Energy Economy asking the EIB to issue a rule capping CO2 emissions at 25% of 1990 levels.
New Mexico Watchdog, a project of the Rio Grande Foundation, has been revealing the substantial conflicts of interest in this matter on the part of EIB Chair Gregory Green and members Jim Gollin and Gay Dillingham. Those four reports are here (Green), here (Gollin), here (Dillingham), and here (Green).
Gessing told the EIB he that the very integrity of the process, aside from the merits of the issue, was undermined because “there was more than a reasonable basis to question the impartiality and fairness” of these members of the EIB in considering this petition. Those questions arise from financial and employment ties between Green and the petitioner New Energy Economy and his representation as a lobbyist on energy and environmental issues for four parties to the NEE peitition who have hired him through the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy. Gollin and Dillingham are, respectively, an officer and director of organizations that are allied with NEE in promoting the very same emissions cap they are being asked to impose upon New Mexico as members of the EIB.
Gessing cited as the basis for his recusal demand Rule 18.104.22.168 of the New Mexico Adminsitrative Code. This rule establishes an objective test that determines when an EIB member must recuse themselves. The rule is mandatory, and is not dependent upon the member’s assertion of their own state of mind or ability to consider the issue despite objective comprises of their impartiality and fairness. That rule states in pertinent part: ‘ No board member shall participate in any action in which his or her impartiality of fairness may reasonably be questioned, and the member shall recuse himself or herself in any such action…”
In what may be further evidence of the lack of impartiality in these proceedings, literature by the NEE was being distributed at the sign-in table manned by EIB personnel. This was the table where members of the public were required to sign their names and provide contact information in order to offer comments to the EIB panel. The literature was an invitation to lunch, paid by NEE, for all those persons who testified in favor of their petition. Photographs of the sign-in table and the NEE luncheon invitation accompany this report.