|JUDGE SHOOBRIDGE TO MAKE CALL ON SUIT, LOCAL LAWMAKERS OPTIMISTIC ON OUTCOME|
|Written by John Graham|
(Lovington Leader Lovington, NM April 3, 2010) Lea County district judge William Shoobridge says it will take him a couple of weeks to review and rule on motions related to a legal battle brewing over a Santa Fe environmental group’s effort to petition New Mexico regulators for a greenhouse gas emissions cap.
Judge Shoobridge heard arguments Thursday in Lovington on motions to dismiss the case as well as a motion seeking a preliminary injunction that would prevent the state Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) from moving ahead with hearing the proposal by environmentalist group, New Energy Economy (NEE), to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
NEE, petitioned the EIB to adopt cap and dividend regulations, which would require companies in the state to reduce emissions by 25 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2020.
The cap would apply to all New Mexico entities that require an air permit from the New Mexico Environment Department including electric utilities, oil and gas producers, refineries, manufacturers such as Intel, cement and asphalt plants, universities, military bases, mineral processing operations, and numerous others.
Three Lea County legislators, Sen. Carroll Leavell, Sen. Gay Kernan, and Rep. Don Bratton; New Mexico’s largest utility, PNM; and other industry groups filed the suit in January to stop regulators from considering the emissions petition. They argue the board doesn’t have the authority to implement a greenhouse gas emissions cap.
If there is no preliminary injunction, the case will go to trial.
“I thought both sides presented interesting positions,” said Sen. Gay Kernan, “Of course I firmly believe the plaintiffs are correct that in the fact the EIB does not have the authority to proceed with the hearing. I thought it was a fair hearing and look forward to the decision,” she added.
“I will be very anxious to hear Judge Shoobridge’s verdict,” said Leavell, “I’m certain he will render a fair decision."
“I’m very concerned about what the NEE proposal could do to the economy of the state of New Mexico,” Sen. Leavell added. “This is a very serious issue we are looking at here.”
"It puts the state of New Mexico at a competitive disadvantage with regards to job creation because the cost of services we provide will be higher than those of our neighbors,” said Rep. Bratton. “The pit rule is a classic example of regulations putting New Mexico businesses at an economic disadvantage. Service companies and rig activities moved to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and out of New Mexico,” he added.
“I don’t think it’s going to settle with the global warming issue because of some of the junk science that has been used,” said Bratton. “The bottom line is it’s a national issue, not a state issue.”
Since NEE petitioned the NIB, all the cities in Lea County, the county itself and both EDC groups haven’t resolutions to the NIB protesting the NEE’s petition.