Several New Mexico conservation and public policy groups filed court papers today to uphold a climate change rule adopted by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB). The rule limits greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution from large fossil fuel sources. The groups are seeking to “intervene” to oppose legal efforts by the energy industry to undermine the GHG regulations.
“Climate change will have disproportionate impacts on individuals and communities in New Mexico that rely on the State’s dwindling water supplies for their livelihood,” said former judge, the Honorable Peggy Nelson, President of the Board of Amigos Bravos. “We cannot sit idly by while industry works to dismantle regulations that protect our health, economy, and heritage.”
The rule, proposed by the non-profit organization New Energy Economy (NEE), requires large sources to reduce GHG emissions by three percent per year. The EIB also adopted a rule proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department implementing a cap-and-trade system as part of the Western Climate Initiative. The rules sunset if a federal regulation that is at least as stringent is enacted.
“New Mexico chose to take steps to reduce carbon pollution because the stakes are too high,” said Earthjustice attorney Alison Flint. “The pollution control rules adopted by the state are needed to protect all of us.”
According to Lora Lucero, Natural Resources Director for the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, “The rules limiting future greenhouse gas emissions from the most serious polluters in New Mexico are reasonable and just plain commonsense if we are to have any hope of averting the most serious consequences of climate change.”
The rules have faced fierce opposition from industry and the new governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez. Governor Martinez fired all members of the EIB on her first day in office and later appointed new members. Opponents also introduced seven bills during the 2011 legislative session to kill or weaken the rules, but those attempts failed.
“Powerful industry groups may have found a friend in Governor Martinez, but the evidence does not support their attempts to overturn the rule. The EIB weighed extensive expert and legal testimony and adopted a fair and balanced rule,” Flint said.
The intervention was filed by the public interest environmental law firm Earthjustice in the Court of Appeals in the State of New Mexico on behalf of Amigos Bravos, a nationally recognized New Mexico river conservation organization; League of Women Voters of New Mexico, a non-partisan organization aimed at public policy advocacy and education; and the Center of Southwest Culture, an organization dedicated to maintaining healthy indigenous and Latino communities in the Southwest.