The New Mexico Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that freshly elected Republican Gov. Susana Martinez violated the state constitution when she halted publication of cap-and-trade rules that were adopted by the state’s Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) last year.
The high court’s ruling came as a result of a suit for a writ of mandamus brought forth by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center on behalf of the environmental group New Energy Economy.
Gov. Martinez on Jan. 2—as one of her first acts upon taking office—put a hold on all “pending and proposed” regulations for 90 days until they are reviewed by a newly created business task force. The freeze barred publishing rules enforcing the state-level climate change regulatory program adopted in December by New Mexico’s EIB. Publishing the rules in the New Mexico Register would render them effective.
New Energy Economy had challenged the freeze, arguing that neither the governor nor the New Mexico Environment Department has authority to adopt, repeal, or amend rules. Martinez’s office had argued that barring publication of the rules was legal. The New Mexico Independent quoted the governor’s office as saying: “The executive order suspending pending rules for 90 days only temporarily postpones the publication of the rule for a brief amount of time to allow for review.”
New Mexico’s carbon trading program requires facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon pollution per year to reduce those emissions by 3% per year from 2010 levels starting in 2013.
Sources: POWERnews, New Energy Economy, New Mexico Independent