New Mexico Adopts Country’s Most Comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Rules

On the same day Californians went to the polls to vote on Proposition 23 [and defeat it], a ballot measure which would have effectively frozen the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the state’s pioneering climate and energy legislation regulators in New Mexico approved a set of comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions reduction regulations that are more aggressive than any other such rules in the country.

In a 4-3 vote, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) approved two sets of proposed global warming regulations:  the first establishes rules for Greenhouse Gas Reporting and Verification and the other deals more specifically with Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade regulations.

The moves today from the EIB clear the way for New Mexico’s participation in the Western Climate Initiative, a consortium of seven Western states and four Canadian provinces working to reduce carbon emissions with a regional cap-and-trade mechanism.

Outgoing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson commended the panel’s decision to adopt the regulations, saying that “addressing climate immediately is the right thing to do.”

“I am pleased that the EIB adopted the program I have worked so hard to develop,” said Gov. Richardson in a statement on Tuesday “I call on the federal government to build on New Mexico’s program and the WCI to implement a national cap-and-trade system.”

The rules will require about 63 facilities, primarily fossil fuel-fired power plants and oil and gas operations, that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually to start cutting emissions by 2 percent per year below 2010 levels, beginning in 2012.

Clean energy supporters hailed the decision both because it establishes New Mexico as a national leader in the creation of a 21st-century U.S. energy policy, but also because it positions New Mexico as an attractive market for clean energy investment.

“We’re thrilled,” said Dr. John Fogarty of New Energy Economy, one of the 17 organizations that has been urging the EIB to adopt carbon reduction regulations for the last two years. “This regulation sends a clear signal: New Mexico is open for business in the new energy economy.”

But even though New Mexico has now established these regulatory standards in readying for involvement in the Western Climate Initiative, there may still be some political wrangling remaining —  just as the EIB was issuing approval of the proposed greenhouse gas rules, New Mexico voters were turning out to cast a vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate and global warming skeptic, Susana Martinez.

Martinez, who claimed victory as the next Governor of New Mexico late on Tuesday night, does not exactly put climate and clean energy at the top of her legislative agenda, telling Politico in August that she had her doubts about the human causes of global warming.

“I’m not sure the science completely supports that,” she said.

Article by Timothy B. Hurst, appearing courtesy ecopolitology.

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