New Mexico Board to Consider Carbon Dioxide Restrictions

Published July 13, 2010

The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board will consider expert testimony and public comments on proposed carbon dioxide restrictions after the New Mexico Supreme Court vacated a lower court ruling that the Board did not have authority to regulate CO2 emissions.

Legislature Rejected Costly Reductions
With New Mexico’s elected officials declining to impose carbon dioxide restrictions on the state’s citizens and businesses, environmental activists are pressing for the Environmental Improvement Board—whose members are not held accountable in public elections—to impose the costly and unpopular restrictions.

The Board has scheduled hearings on August 16 to consider the New Energy Economy’s petition to force New Mexico citizens and businesses to cut their carbon dioxide emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels. The Board has scheduled additional hearings on September 20 to consider the state Environment Department’s separate proposal to impose cap-and-trade restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions.

To reduce CO2 emissions, New Mexico utility customers would have to purchase substantially more wind and solar power while cutting use of coal and natural gas. According to a recent study by economists at Tufts University, the production costs of wind power are 75 percent higher than for coal. The production costs of solar power are even greater—between 500 and 900 percent more expensive than coal.

Chasing Businesses Away
“New Mexico relies heavily on cost-effective coal for our electricity,” said Marita Noon, executive director of the Albuquerque-based Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy. “We have no nuclear reactors in the state, which will make a forced reduction in carbon dioxide emissions very expensive. A New Mexico-only carbon cap will chase businesses out of the state, taking jobs and economic vitality with them.”

“The proposed cap would be even more draconian than the one proposed in the federal Waxman-Markey legislation,” noted Paul Gessing, executive director of the Rio Grande Foundation. “It would do almost nothing to reduce U.S. carbon emissions, because New Mexico’s carbon footprint is tiny.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.