|State board sued on green cap|
A group of companies and agencies as well as three local state representatives have filed suit against the state’s Environmental Improvement Board in hopes of halting a hearing on a proposed cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
The suit was filed today in the Fifth Judicial District court in Lea County by state Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, state Rep. Donald Bratton, R-Hobbs, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, El Paso Electric Company, New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association, PNM, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau and New Mexico Petroleum Marketers Association.
The complaint seeks a court ruling to prevent the state’s EIB board from hearing a rulemaking petition filed in 2008 by the New Energy Economy Inc., and to make a ruling on the EIB’s authority to impose such a cap without legislative approval. The EIB is expected to take up the issue some time in the fall.
The EIB is a state board made up of seven gubernatorial appointees. Under the state’s Environmental Improvement Act and Air Quality Control Act, the New Mexico legislature delegates authority to the EIB to adopt regulations and standards in a number of environmental management programs.
“The bottom line is some of the legislative members are involved in this,” Bratton said Wednesday. “We feel it is a legislative issue and the EIB has been stepping into an arena they have no authority in and no authorization from the Legislature.”
The Legislature looked at giving the EIB such authority in 2009, but the legislation did not pass through the session. Air quality standards for a greenhouse gases have not been set by the federal government or the state, and should take place at the federal level first, Bratton said.
“It is almost like getting the cart before the horse,” he said. “Many of these regulations need to happen at the national level so we don’t impact commerce state-to-state.”
The emissions cap proposed by the NEE exceeds levels discussed at the national level and does not include cap and trade that would create a more business-friendly environment, said Deborah Seligman with the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.
“Their reduction amount is even greater than proposed at the federal level. They are talking about 25 percent from 1990 by 2020,” she said. “There is no way to technically do it.”
Seligman said such a cap would have major impacts on the state’s economy and taxpayers, but little effect on greenhouse gas emissions globally.
This is not the first time the EIB has overstepped its bounds, said Sen. Kernan. The EIB also attempted to create regulations in 2009 that would have required New Mexico to meet the same vehicle emission standards as California.
“We have struggled from time to time with the executive, using his authority to put in place rules and regulations when they don’t have the authority to do so,” she said. “We don’t believe they have the authority at this time to hold a hearing (on the greenhouse emissions cap).”