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Battle Continues Over Landmark NM Carbon Pollution Rule

April 11, 2011

SANTA FE, N.M. - A battle is brewing that could determine the future of New Mexico's landmark carbon pollution reduction rule. The newly-appointed New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) is opposing intervention by the clean energy advocacy group New Energy Economy in a Court of Appeals case. The case was brought by PNM, the state's largest utility, in another effort to repeal the rule.

Mariel Nanasi, who heads New Energy Economy, sees this as the latest in a string of attempts by Governor Susana Martinez's administration to help PNM repeal the rule, as the utility contributed to her election campaign.

"This stamp by the Environmental Improvement Board shows their predisposition against addressing pollution control measures in New Mexico, despite the title and their duty to address environmental concerns."

Nanasi says an economic analysis, by Synapse Energy Economics, of the rule's impact on the state shows it will help spur some economic growth. She says what happens in the Court of Appeals will directly affect the economy, and the health of New Mexicans.

"Addressing carbon pollution will actually create 17,500 family-supporting jobs in New Mexico's electric sector alone, through 2020."

The rule requires that facilities emitting more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon pollution per year reduce these emissions by 3 percent per year from current levels, starting in 2013. Other efforts by PNM to stop the rule have been rejected by the New Mexico Supreme Court and the EIB, and an attempt by the Martinez administration to quash the rule was deemed unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in January. The rule also has survived the 2011 legislative session intact, despite seven bills to repeal or change it.

The economic analysis is at newenergyeconomy.org

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - NM