Planet Gore

Will Unelected Bureaucrats Wreck New Mexico’s Economy?

As cap-and-trade legislation continues to languish in Congress, zealots of the Church of Human-Caused Global Warming are working on a parallel track.
They figure that, instead of pushing legislation through Congress or even state legislatures, they can push economically devastating carbon-emissions caps through unelected bodies staffed by activists with serious conflicts of interest. This, at least, is the strategy in New Mexico, where the Environmental Improvement Board has been considering a draconian carbon cap.
The proposal, which comes in a petition by the New Mexico–based group New Energy Economy, would limit the state’s carbon emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This contrasts with Waxman-Markey legislation, which, on a national basis, would by 2020 reduce carbon emissions to 17 percent below a higher 2005 emissions baseline. Further, the proposed New Mexico regulation is an absolute cap, with no trading allowed. The cap is so strict that the state’s largest utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), which withdrew from the U.S. Chamber because of the Chamber’s opposition to federal cap-and-trade legislation, has vigorously opposed it.
As troubling as this proposal is, more troubling yet is the way the game has been rigged. The Environmental Impact Board — whose members were appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson, who has pushed to make New Mexico part of a regional emissions-cap scheme called the Western Climate Initiative — contains only Democrats and Democratic-party funders. A majority have conflicts of interest.
The EIB chair, Gregory Green, is employed by four environmental groups that have joined the petition. One is the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy, an organization that has received over $100,000 from New Energy Economy, the lead petitioner in this case. Mr. Green is also the New Mexico spokesman for the Pew Environment Group, and has publicly advanced their view that mankind is causing global warming and emissions caps will have a beneficial impact on New Mexico’s economy.
Two other members, Jim Gollin and Gay Dillingham, head environmental groups that advocate carbon caps. Gollin is president of the radical Rainforest Action Network, which was founded by one of the first practitioners of eco-terrorism. Dillingham is founder and director of New Voice for Business. Both organizations belong to same climate change alliance, 1Sky, which also includes New Energy Economy. Moreover, New Energy Economy has given that alliance nearly $100,000.
Meanwhile, the president of the board of directors of New Energy Economy doubles as the senior adviser to the New Mexico attorney general. It was the attorney general’s office that advised the Environmental Improvement Board that it had jurisdiction to consider imposing a statewide carbon cap.
New Mexico has been targeted as a test case for the radical environmental movement. If they can pick off New Mexico, expect this state-based strategy to spread across the nation.

Paul Gessing is the president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual responsibility.

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