Policy Documents

New Mexico Governor Martinez Sacks Environmental Board, Fulfulls Campaign Promises

James M. Taylor –
January 7, 2011

Newly elected New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez is making good on pre-election promises to eliminate job-killing environmental regulations whose costs outweigh their benefits.

Martinez announced on January 5 that she will block carbon dioxide restrictions imposed by the state Environmental Improvement Board (EIB), is replacing all EIB members, and will keep New Mexico from joining a regional cap-and-trade program.

On January 6 Martinez announced she is appointing Harrison “Jack” Schmitt as secretary of the state's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. Schmitt, who has a Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University and is a member of the Heartland Institute Board of Directors, is a former U.S. Senator and astronaut. Schmitt is the last person to step onto the moon.

The EIB, all of whose members were appointed by former Gov. Bill Richardson (D), conducted controversial global warming hearings in the summer and fall of 2010. State legislators and consumer advocates accused the EIB hearings as being little more than a kangaroo court run by environmental activists with a predetermined agenda to impose costly and restrictive carbon dioxide rules on the New Mexico economy. EIB was widely criticized for blocking the testimony of citizens and experts who sought to testify regarding the high costs and limited environmental benefits of EIB’s proposed carbon dioxide restrictions.

EIB was also widely criticized for the timing of its formal announcement that it would impose the controversial carbon dioxide restrictions. EIB waited until Election Day to formally announce its decision, which conveniently kept the highly unpopular restrictions from being a decisive election issue. At the same time, by making its announcement prior to the new governor taking office, EIB put Gov. Martinez in a potentially sticky political situation of blocking a regulation already supported an approved by EIB.

“Governor Martinez is demonstrating the very integrity and fortitude that voters expected when they elected her governor,” said Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute. “Governor Martinez is setting a strong, principled example that other newly elected state and federal officials would be wise to follow.”

“Harrison Schmitt is an incredibly knowledgeable geologist and the perfect person to safeguard New Mexico job growth while encouraging environmentally sound energy production,” Lehr added. “The New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Development will be in good hands.”