By Dahr Jamail
In an effort to tackle the climate change crisis, on December 6, 2010, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) adopted New Energy Economy’s (NEE) rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels, with a goal to reduce emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
According to NEE, this rule enables effective and efficient carbon pollution reduction that will foster both clean energy job creation and prosperity for New Mexico’s families and communities. By taking the lead on this critical issue, New Mexico and NEE have created a practical, transportable model for the rest of the country to follow.
The problem is, New Mexico’s newly elected conservative governor, Republican Susana Martinez – who has financial ties to oil and gas producers and individuals – has attempted to subvert her own state constitution in order to stop this plan to begin reducing her state’s carbon emissions.
“Because there’s no federal climate legislation, it’s up to the states to lead,” Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of NEE, told Truthout. “New Mexico is an energy-producing state. We produce and export energy, so it’s important that an energy-producing state expand its energy portfolio to include renewable energy.”
According to Nanasi, the new regulations actually create investment and jobs, and the only people opposed to it are a select group of big polluters.
“Folks in New Mexico support it because they want clean air, clean water and more jobs,” Nanasi said.
The new environmental regulations were, according to New Mexico state law, to be published in the New Mexico Register so that the citizens of the state would be alerted of the new state rules.
The problem was, Governor Martinez did not like the rules and ordered them not to be made public.
“She chose to tell a bureaucrat not to do what they were required to do, which was to publish the rules,” Nanasi explained. “The administrative function was to simply let people know what the rules are.”
In response, NEE filed a lawsuit in the New Mexico Supreme Court on January 11 against the governor’s action. The court granted NEE’s request for an expedited hearing and ruled that the Martinez administration must respond by January 24, as oral arguments will begin on January 26. The lawsuit seeks to reverse the actions of the Martinez administration that are preventing the lawful publication of final administrative rules as codified state law.
The writ was filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) on behalf of NEE. NEE claims that the Martinez administration has deliberately and illegally prevented the codification and publication of numerous final and filed rules legally adopted by various boards and commissions before the start of 2011.
New Mexico’s EIB had voted to adopt NEE’s rule pursuant to the Environmental Improvement Act and the Air Quality Control Act (AQCA) and filed the final rule with the New Mexico State Records Center on December 27.