USA Today: New Mexico Court OKs State Cuts in Greenhouse Gases

January 2011

By Wendy Koch

New Mexico’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, challenged by its new GOP governor, has won backing from the state’s Supreme Court.

In a unanimous ruling, the court said Gov. Susana Martinez violated the state Constitution when she prevented a rule to establish a statewide cap on heat-trapping gases from being published in the state’s register and thus taking effect.

“No one is above the law,” the state’s chief justice, Charles W. Daniels, said Wednesday in announcing the decision to order the rule be published, reports the New York Times. The court was responding to a lawsuit filed on behalf of New Energy Economy, an environmental group.

Late last year, in the final days of the Democratic administration of Gov. Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Environment Improvement Board adopted rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 3% per year from 2010 levels, with a goal to cut emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.

New Mexico is slated, via the Western Climate Initiative, to join California and three Canadian provinces next January in requiring businesses to buy allowances for their carbon dioxide emissions through a regional “cap and trade” program.

Yet Martinez, who took office Jan. 1, has opposed that approach. On Jan. 4, she removed all the members of the Environmental Improvement Board, saying it acted after the state Legislature rejected a cap-and-trade proposal.

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