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The "Other Big Vote" in New Mexico Today

November 2, 2010

SANTA FE, N.M. - It's Election Day in New Mexico, but there's one big vote happening in Santa Fe that you may not have heard about. The state Environmental Improvement Board is ruling today on the Environment Department's proposed cap and trade program to regulate emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Mariel Nanasi is with the group New Energy Economy, which supports the plan. She says the idea is about more than just helping the environment.

"It means that New Mexico will become a magnet for clean energy jobs, and it's obviously needed because people are hurting in New Mexico."

She says there's already been major growth in those jobs in the state since 1995 and she notes that there are currently more wind energy jobs than coal mining jobs in the U.S.

Some companies have said the cap and trade program will have "astoundingly negative economic impacts," but Nanasi says the facts don't bear that claim out.

"Industry's own economists have said that these regulations could have no negative impact and could, in fact, stimulate the lagging economy."

If the plan is approved, it would allow the state to join the Western Climate Initiative, a regional cap and trade program. But there's another vote taking place today in California, and if their participation is blocked, it would essentially make the EIB's decision today a moot point.

Nanasi says cap and trade is a win-win for New Mexico.

"Let's cap carbon now, create a new energy economy, and avoid the worst effects of global warming."

Scientists say that if climate change continues at its current pace, the coming decades could bring devastating droughts to the Southwest.

More information is at www.nmenv.state.nm.us

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM