Albuquerque Journal: Two Won’t Hear Emissions Petitions

October 2011

Two members of the state Environmental Improvement Board recused themselves Monday from hearing petitions to repeal two greenhouse gas emissions rules adopted by the previous board last year.

Gregory Fulfer of Jal and James Casciano of Albuquerque disqualified themselves from further proceedings on the petitions at a board meeting in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe environmental group New Energy Economy, which proposed the rule on a greenhouse gas emissions cap, contended the two men, and chairwoman Deborah Peacock, would be unable to make fair decisions because of bias.

The board, which was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, will begin hearings next month on petitions filed by Public Service Company of New Mexico and other industry groups to repeal the NEE rule and a separate rule that would enable New Mexico’s participation in a regional cap-and-trade program.

Both rules were adopted by the board when it was filled with appointees of former Gov. Bill Richardson. The industry groups have also filed appeals in the state Court of Appeals.

In motions filed with the board in August, the NEE claimed Casciano and Fulfer should recuse themselves because they testified against the rules last year. They also said Peacock had “ex parte” communication with the petitioners in a court mediation that led to a remand of the case to the board to “resolve” the issues.

Fulfer and Casciano on Monday both said they could be fair and impartial but wanted to maintain the board’s integrity by heading off any perception of bias.

Peackcock declined to recuse herself, saying she can be fair and impartial.

NEE Executive Director Mariel Nanasi said Fulfer and Casciano “did the right thing” but was uncomfortable with the EIB continuing with the proceedings.

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