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 February 15, 2012
New Mexico Tosses Out Cap-and-Trade Program

 New Mexico's Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) last week unanimously repealed a statewide cap-and-trade program adopted in 2010, when Democratic Governor Bill Richardson was in office. Current Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has been fiercely opposed to the measure.

The regulations were originally adopted on Nov. 2, 2010 (election day) in response to a petition to allow New Mexico to participate in a regional cap-and-trade program, the Western Climate Initiative. They would have required all stationary facilities emitting more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually to reduce carbon emissions by 2% a year starting in 2012.

As one of her first acts upon taking office in January 2011, Gov. Martinez put a hold on all pending and proposed regulations for 90 days, freezing publication of the EIB-adopted rules in the New Mexico Register. She then appointed new members of the EIB.

"The costs [of the rule] way outweigh the benefits," board member Tim Morrow said as the board voted 5--0 to repeal the measure last week. Board members also pointed out that Arizona, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Utah had since withdrawn from active participation from the Western Climate Initiative. Remaining members of the initiative are California, Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

"It's a shame that this administration is pandering to the few monied voices and leaving the public out in the cold," says attorney Bruce Frederick of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center.

"What eliminating the cap-and-trade program does is that number one, it makes us competitive with our surrounding states, and it doesn't make our utilities more expensive for families," Gov. Martinez told Capital Report New Mexico.

The EIB will meet in March to vote on the repeal of additional New Mexico rules that cap carbon emissions.

Sources: POWERnews, New Mexico EIB, Capital Report New Mexico