Thursday, July 28, 2011

Court Rulings Indicate New Mexico's Battle Over GHG Regs Far from Over

At the State Supreme Courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico this week, where it was nearly 90 degrees in the shade, something else was heating up: the battle over whether to dismantle the state's greenhouse gas regulations. At the root of the seven-month-long saga is a December decision by New Mexico's Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) to cap global warming emissions from the state's largest power plants by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels starting in 2013. New Energy Economy (NEE), a nonprofit, led the two-year public process leading up to the landmark law's adoption, which would allow the state to enter the Western Climate Initiative's (WCI) cap-and-trade program. But Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who promised during her 2010 campaign to abandon the carbon cap, promptly fired the seven-member EIB in January and tried to stall the ruling's implementation for at least 90 days. Her efforts were later deemed unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court, and the policy went into effect. But the law is far from secure. Two separate rulings by the court this week indicate that the dispute could run far into next year. On Monday, in the first ruling, the court placed a 180-day stay on efforts to repeal the law by utility giant PNM Resources, who is now leading the legal push against EIB. Both parties had requested the six-month time-out so that they could try to resolve the issue out of court. For its part, PNM is aiming to prove via petition with EIB that its law is not economically sound for the public, and thus get it scrapped for good...more

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