Environmentalists throw in the towel on NM’s roll back of regulations

June 2013

By Rob Nikolewski on June 13, 2013

Saying they would be “costly and difficult,” two environmental groups on Thursday (June 13) withdrew their appeals of decisions by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board that reversed regulations dealing with a cap and trade agreement and greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Lawyers for Western Resource Advocates and the New Energy Economy filed paperwork in the state court of appeals that said while the groups still believe the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) was wrong, “it has become apparent that continuing these appeals will require substantial resources” and the groups will try alternative routes to “find ways to address climate change in a manner that makes sense for New Mexico.”

The appeals came last year after the EIB rolled back rules that established a cap and trade agreement with other states including California and Rule 100, mandating that generating facilities in the state could not emit more than 25,000 metric tons of CO2.

The rules had been instituted in the final days of the administration of Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat.

But after Republican Gov. Susana Martinez took office in January of 2011, she fired the members of the board and replaced them. Gov. Martinez has been a sharp critic of the previous board’s actions and during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign she called cap and trade “cap and tax.”

Defenders of the original regulations say New Mexico needs to be a leader in reducing greenhouse emissions while opponents countered that the restrictions would have no practical effect on improving the environment while increasing the cost for businesses in the state.

“We think this is good news that we can get this matter put behind us,” said Wally Drangmeister of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, one of the defendants in the appeals. “The rulings by the Environmental Improvement Board were proper and now we can redouble our efforts to do what we do, which is explore and produce oil and gas in New Mexico.”

“We are not abandoning our efforts to find effective ways to combat climate change,” Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director and President of New Energy Economy, in a statement. “We are just refocusing our resources on what we hope to be more promising paths forward – such as a clean energy standard along the lines that we submitted to the (New Mexico) public regulation commission last year.”

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