ALBUQUERQUE New Mexicos participation in a regional cap-and-trade program aimed at curbing greenhouse-gas emissions became more unlikely Monday with a unanimous vote by state regulators.
The decision by the Environmental Improvement Board to repeal the cap-and-trade rules came in response to petitions filed by New Mexicos largest electric utilities, natural-gas and oil developers and others who feared the rules would push businesses and jobs to neighboring states.
Gov. Susana Martinez, a critic of regulating carbon emissions at the state level, was pleased with the boards decision, spokesman Scott Darnell said.
This is a regulation that failed to pass the Legislature and was instead rushed through without sufficient science, with even some proponents admitting that it wouldnt have a tangible positive impact on the environment, Darnell said. It was a regulation that threatened jobs and would have burdened our families with higher energy costs.
Members of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association agreed, saying it was bad public policy for New Mexico to unilaterally take on an issue that is global in scope.
Environmentalists said they werent surprised by the boards decision given that Martinez had appointed all new members to the panel when she took office.
They succumbed to political expediency rather than commence doing what one must for New Mexican businesses and families, said Mariel Nanasi, executive director of the Santa Fe-based environmental group New Energy Economy.
The cap-and-trade rules along with provisions for reporting and verifying carbon emissions were first proposed in 2010 by the Environment Department under former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson. The state had argued it needed a cap-and-trade program that would best suit the needs of New Mexico.
At the same time, New Energy Economy was petitioning the board to adopt rules for capping greenhouse-gas emissions from large polluters.
A year of public meetings, courtroom battles and hearings before the board eventually gave way to approval of the pollution regulations. Then, more legal wrangling ensued.
Opponents filed court appeals as well as petitions to get the board to reconsider. More public hearings were held late last year.
Board member Elizabeth Ryan said she voted to repeal the cap-and-trade rules because she felt New Mexico was in front of a firing squad of regulation based on projections for job losses, businesses moving elsewhere and the lack of technology and trading partners.
She said in the 15 months since the rules were first adopted, there also have been shifts in attitudes at federal and international levels about the best way to regulate greenhouse gases.