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Martinez administration may turn back energy efficiency standards

Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration is looking to roll back energy efficiency standards for construction. The Martinez administration says this is to “send a message that we are open for business.”

Martinez appointee Regulation and Licensing Department Superintendent J. Dee Dennis Jr. told the Albuquerque Journal, “This is not driven by any ideological belief, but a commonsense approach to help grow our economy in these tough times while adopting a national energy standard.”

The rules in question require new homes and other buildings be built with higher energy standards than before. Martinez’s administration is looking at moving the standards back down to what they were before Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration raised them. The standards went into effect in January, though there is a six-month grace period. This means the codes will not really go into effect until July.

The Journal reported on the codes themselves:

The current national codes increased energy savings about 10 percent over previous codes. Under the New Mexico version, it’s estimated that new homes would be 20 percent more energy efficient than previously required; new commercial buildings would be about 17 percent more energy efficient, increasing to 20 percent when the 2013 changes took effect.

KSFR spoke to Kim Shanahan, the executive director of the Santa Fe Area Homebuilders Association, who supports the current codes and sees no reason to roll them back.

“Homebuilders believe that this is a good code,” Shanahan told KSFR. “This is one that we can live with and we are for it.”

Shanahan said that he could not say if all builders in the state are for the current code, but indicated that the Santa Fe Homebuilders Association is “by and large” in favor of the regulations.

The Journal reported that another group was not of the same opinion.

“By rolling back the codes, New Mexico remains cost competitive in building new or remodeling residential and commercial properties while still implementing substantial energy savings,” Lynne Andersen, president of NAIOP NM, the commercial real estate development association, said in an April 21 letter to the CID.

The proposal was introducted by Kevin Yearout of Albuquerque. Yearout was a member of Martinez’s Small Business Friendly Task Force, which recommended rolling back a number of regulations.

The liberal blog Clearly New Mexico, a project of the Center for Civic Policy, said that the task force was “dominated by long-time lobbyists for large corporations, including big dairy, which contributed thousands of dollars to Martinez’s campaign; and the oil, gas and natural gas industry from in and outside the state, which gave her hundreds of thousands.”

Yearout is not listed as a lobbyist. He did, however, donate $5,000 to Martinez’s campaign, and his wife, Lian, donated an additional $5,000. A Cheryl Yearout, who listed the same address as Kevin Yearout, donated another $2,000. Yearout Mechanical donated $10,000 to Martinez’s successful gubernatorial campaign as well.

According to a midpoint report obtained by Clearly New Mexico, “The task force doesn’t want New Mexico to do any more than what’s required by the federal government.”

When asked about the Martinez administration statement that this will show that “New Mexico is open for business,” Shanahan said it did not mean anything to him as a builder.

“It’s political posturing from my perspective,” he said.

In one of her first acts as governor, Martinez attempted to halt all pending and proposed regulations for 90-days. Her act, via an executive order, was struck down by the state Supreme Court and Martinez was ordered to publish some regulations her administration had previously halted.

Court documents obtained by the KUNM Government Project found that the dairy industry had helped draft the executive order.

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