New Mexico’s relationship with federal environmental oversight authorities vexed, evolving
New Mexico is considering reversing former Gov. Richardson’s cap and trade program on carbon dioxide emissions because the upfront costs are proving too much to bear.
Deputy Secretary of the state’s Environment Department, Butch Tongate, testified before the Environmental Improvement Board to explain why New Mexico alone cannot combat pollution, and why efforts to curb toxins should be a national and global priority.
“The cap-and-trade program does not come free. It requires significant investment from industry as well as the state and it will have an impact on every citizen of the state,” he said.
While he acknowledged not being an economic expert, Tongate pointed to the 80,000 New Mexico households that received federal assistance to pay their energy bills in 2009. He also said nearly 20 percent of New Mexicans live below the federal poverty level.
“With the cap-and-trade rules and increases in energy and transportation costs, the poorest people of the state will be required to pay higher bills and that’s equivalent to a regressive tax,” Tongate said.
The arguments over whether New Mexico should regulate greenhouse gases haven’t changed since the debate first began nearly three years ago. Approval of the regulations last year followed battles before the state’s highest court and days of testimony by economists, climate experts and the public.
And while federal greenhouse measures have been a divisive issue among pundits and the business community community, influential figures in New Mexico have also griped about Washington intervention on environmental matters.
On Friday Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement that it would pressure a coal-fired plant that services and employs tribal members.
Also from the AP:
Shelly says in a letter to the EPA that he supports the state of New Mexico and Public Service Company of New Mexico in their efforts to appeal the agency’s decision.
New Mexico contends the agency infringed on its ability to adopt its own plan for curbing haze-causing pollution at the San Juan Generating Station.
Shelly describes the EPA’s mandate as “enormously burdensome.” He accuses the agency of ignoring the culture, geography and economics of the Four Corners region.
And yesterday, a public health scare in La Bajada, a roughly 40-resident area in the center of Santa Fe county,* was caused over detection of the bacterial strain E.Coli in the city’s water supply. The Environment Department issued a “boil water advisory,” and made specific mention of the risk children and the elderly have in growing ill from the water.
In 2010, a New Mexican article cited a scientific report that Santa Fe water exceeded EPA limits on contaminants on numerous occasions over a multi-year period.
*This post as been updated to clarify the specific area within Sante Fe county affected by the E. Coli detection