Two members of New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board have said they will not participate in hearings aimed at repealing the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction laws after their neutrality on the issue was questioned.
Board members Greg Fulfer and James Casciano yesterday said they believed they could be fair and impartial but decided to step aside from the case to maintain the integrity of the seven-member board. Fulfer and Casciano testified against the law last year when it was being finalized during the final weeks of former governor Bill Richardson’s (D) tenure.
Current governor Suzanna Martinez (R) replaced each member of Richardson’s board with her own appointees after taking office in January of this year. Martinez has been a vocal opponent of the GHG trading program, calling it a “cap and tax” during her 2010 campaign.
Deborah Peacock, the board’s president, has refused to remove herself from the proceeding despite her presence at meetings with utility PNM Resources, which is leading the fight to overturn the GHG regulations.
“Peacock engaged in private discussions with the entities she is supposed to be regulating,” said Bruce Frederick, attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. “Any litigator would feel that the dye is cast and the outcome is certain,” Frederick said.
Frederick has represented advocacy group New Energy Economy in the multi-year legal battle to implement the GHG rules, which require facilities emitting 25,000 or more metric tonnes of CO2 equivalents to reduce emissions 3pc/yr beginning three years after the rules’ effective date.
The rules would also make New Mexico a partner member of the Western Climate Initiative, a North American climate compact that includes 11 other US states, six Mexican states and five Canadian provinces.
The board will hold a hearing on repealing the GHG reporting component of the law on 8 November and the emissions reduction component on 5 December.
Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy’s executive director, said her organization will challenge any board decision to repeal the law through the courts.