Residents voice emissions regulation opposition

Sharna Johnson

Emissions regulations proposed by the state environmental department brought out strong opposition from area residents and leaders during a Thursday hearing in Clovis.

Comments documented during a six-hour hearing held at the Civic Center will be relayed to the state Environmental Improvement Board.

Numerous residents, business representatives and elected officials trickled in and out of the hearing, overwhelmingly opposed to regulations they said circumvent the Legislature and voters.

They also said regulations are based on unproved scientific theory and would increase the cost of doing business and living in New Mexico.

“If man-made climate change actually exists, it is a global issue, not a local one,” said Thom Moore, pointing out the rules, if they’re going to be imposed, should come from the federal government.

“I ask you to remember good intentions are only good for paving roads.”

Moore, from Farmers Electric Cooperative, said his company is concerned and believes the proposed rules will devastate its customers, from industries to private individuals.

He said it will cause the cost of operating a business in the state to skyrocket, which will be passed on to residents and families.

Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, accused the board of trying to accomplish through regulations what it could not do through the Legislature, pointing out greenhouse legislation died in committee for the last two regular sessions.

“The board has tried to implement rules and regulations that the Legislature has not asked them to do. It is not the Legislature’s intent to see that these rules are being promulgated. I think for an appointed board to make rules (that act as law); I think it’s worse than wrong,” he said.

“I encourage the board to put this on hold, or burn it — I don’t know which.”

Much of the criticism came from people tied to farming and agriculture, who said their livelihood was at risk and they would have to leave the state if the measures are approved.

Roosevelt County’s Matt Rush said he’s a lifelong farmer and resident and understands caring about the environment, but doesn’t believe the proposals are based on sound science.

“Good intentions don’t go very far when they’re not founded by good sense,” he said.

“Why in the world would we consider doing something that’s going to help us starve to death?”

Former Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley referred to the proposals as, “third or fourth on the list of the most absurd and absolutely ridiculous,” things he has seen proposed in the state.

He said he doesn’t believe the board has the authority to circumvent law through regulation and, “It’s not going to survive because the people will rise and the people’s voice is going to be heard.”

The EIB is holding six hearings — in Carlsbad, Artesia, Hobbs, Las Cruces, Clovis and Farmington — to gain input from state residents on the issue.

The EIB is expected to decide on two proposed programs — Greenhouse Cap and Trade Provisions and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting and Verification Rules — in coming months, though no definitive timeline has been announced.

Both proposals are cap and trade programs. Such a program imposes a cap on emissions, and each company is given a number of tons of emissions allowed. A company that releases less than its emission allowance is permitted to sell the allowance on the open market.

As a program continues, the cap shrinks, and the market would make the allowances costlier, giving companies incentive to cut pollution.

The environment department has said it doesn’t expect any economic impact from the program.