New Mexico governor sucker-punches enviro regs


On January 1, 2011, New Mexico's new governor, Republican Susana Martinez, took office. Nine minutes into her first day, she got right down to business with executive order 2011-001 [PDF], the innocently-titled "Formation of a small business tax force," which not only created said task force but, more importantly, placed a 90-day hold on most proposed and pending regulations in the state, including two key environmental and public health regulations. Green groups had expected the governor -- who questions climate science and believes environmental and public health regulations stymie business -- to try to keep regulations she dislikes from moving forward, and this is her first move in the hold-up game.

One of the rules on hold required large polluters in the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The other changed how the state's enormous dairies were required to manage their potentially-poisonous manure. Nearly 60 percent of the state's dairies have polluted groundwater, and the new rules provided clear instructions to these enormous operations on how they should manage their manure to better protect groundwater, which serves as a drinking water source for most of the state's residents. These two rules, and about 20 others, all of which were pending publication in the state's register, will hang out in a sort of bureaucratic limbo while the Martinez-appointed task force spends three months evaluating them for their economic impact. It's unclear what will happen if the rules under examination are found to have negative impacts on business.

The dairy rules had wound their way through a multi-year process of stakeholder engagement, hearings, drafts, and revisions. The greenhouse gas rules had already withstood a challenge in the state Supreme Court and survived months of public hearing and comment. Both rules were finalized before the new governor took office, and, as of December 2010, citizens and state employees considered them all but law, merely awaiting publication in the state's register to take effect.

The governor's action sneakily short-circuited the rulemaking process. Even though enviros had anticipated the pushback, they believed Martinez would have to go through the same administrative process that stakeholders, including the dairy industry and businesses impacted by the greenhouse gas rules had gone through to create the regulations in the first place -- proposed rule changes, public comment, hearings, etc.

But Martinez knocked their expectations -- and these rules -- out with the executive order's quick sucker punch. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which has worked on both the greenhouse gas and the dairy regulations, believes her actions are illegal, and sued Martinez yesterday in an effort to compel her to publish the rules in the register.

 View Larger Map

Aerial view of manure lagoons at a New Mexico megadairy in Vado, near Las Cruces. The tiny dots are cows.

"Our view is that an effort like that to stop the regulations from going into effect is essentially an effort to repeal the regulations," said Douglas Meiklejohn, director of the NMELC.

Other groups involved in the dairy rule making, like the citizen group Amigos Bravos, based in Taos, and Caballo Concerned Citizens, near Hatch, have expressed concern about the hold-up.

"Every day without common sense regulations endangers our land and water and the public health," said Rachael Conn, policy director of Amigos Bravos.

Despite repeated requests for comment, the governor (who received $800,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, and $70,000 from dairy groups) and her staff have remained silent on the issue.

Admittedly, the governor is busy. She has a state budget to corral, global warming deniers to appoint to key energy and natural resource positions, environmental board members to fire, and a sorry-looking website to improve.

True, there are bound to be some wires crossed as the new executive officer settles in. But if the governor's going to come out swinging, she should be prepared to take responsibility for her actions -- and answer basic questions about potentially illegal executive orders that place her political priorities well before a public process.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn is HCN's online editor.

For further reading on the environment and politics in New Mexico, check out HCN contributor Laura Paskus's recent story, Politics trumps science again, this time in New Mexico.

Short Sightedness of the New Mexico Governor
Murray Mitchell
Murray Mitchell
Jan 14, 2011 09:08 PM
It is obvious she has been bought off by a few vested interests. Its a shame she has not been able to see the boost to commerce that these environmental laws will bring, both short and long term. Not to mention the benefit to the population of the state.
CO2 is over hyped as a GHG
Scottar Brooks
Scottar Brooks
Jan 15, 2011 06:10 PM
Even though CO2 emissions have increased by 20ppm since 1998 the temp have not follow. In fact studies show that the Medieval Warming Period and other past warm bubbles like during the Roman period where actually warmer then present with CO2 at around the 250ppm mark.

So where's the link to warming from CO2? None as far as I could determine from going over thousands of GW sites pro and con. And according to NCDC's own data 2010 was not the warmest year in a century, it only ranked 23 warmest, 1998 being the top ranked.[…]r-in-the-usa-nor-even-a-tie

So the only real concern is the pollution from the cows from runoff into the rivers and streams. The climate change from GHG's is mostly hyped and distorted by gravy train seeking science orgs and entities. In fact many studies show that increased CO2 is beneficial to many plants and crops.
CO2 / Greenhouse gas
Eric Hvaelock-Bailie
Eric Hvaelock-Bailie
Jan 27, 2011 10:32 AM
Arctic Warming over Hyped
Scottar Brooks
Scottar Brooks
Jan 27, 2011 09:31 PM

If you would do some serious research on sites like you will find this has been going on for the last 30 years and is not due to CO2-AGW.

You just like to believe in all the AGW hype and alarmist mantra that has been consistency shown to be exaggerated. Most temperature stations in the arctic have show no serious warming outside of normal variability.

For instance, checking Russian climate record in the early part of the last century show that the Arctic had this ice melting which it then recovered from. It's a cycle that happens do to AO influx of warm water.

Oct 24, 2010
Arctic Temperatures and Ice - Why it is All About Natural Variability

Arctic Warming 1920-40

And it's documented that the shoreline where some of the Inuit reside is alluvial fill and has been eroding for decades. It's similar to the claims the Maldives are being engulfed by rising seas. Their coral atolls.

So instead of being enviro brained washed get off you dead butt and do some real research past the gravy train sites. LOL
re: Arctic Warming "over hyped"
Eric Hvaelock-Bailie
Eric Hvaelock-Bailie
Jan 27, 2011 11:46 PM
Interesting choice you've given me here - 1) would be the same talking points that climate change deniers toss out in the comments section of the Guardian every time George Monbiot, et al, publish an article, as mediated by a plethora of grammatical errors, mispellings, and so on (yours, e.g., "get off you butt" or "...all the AGW hype and alarmist mantra that has been consistency shown to be exaggerated." - etc.), or 2) centuries of tribal wisdom and observation in the Arctic - the author of the piece in the link is Inuit - which happen to coincide with what the vast majority of climate scientists believe to be the case. "LOL" indeed.
re re: Arctic Warming "over hyped"
Jan 28, 2011 09:10 PM
George Monbiot et el? He's not a climate scientist, he's an English writer! He's the English version of Al Gore LOL.
Just more ad hominem on your part.

It might help to know the history of the Inuits, they didn't spend centuries in one place, LOL. And watching a video of a drunk Inuit being chased around his truck by a polar bear, their not much wiser then any other group, the enviros like to portray them as such. They also like to portray polar bears as drowning due to lack of apparent ice, what a load!:[…]/inuit_culture.html

The area where they finally settled is on alluvial fill and has been suffering erosion naturally from wind and wave action. It's become more severe since the little ice age.


CO2 Science Magazine

Consensus? What consensus? Only in AGW wet dreams is there a consensus.[…]ms--Challenge-UN-IPCC--Gore

850 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of "Man-Made" Global Warming (AGW):

How about some relevant references instead of the usual, weak ad hominem. Get off your consensus butt and quit slurping the AGW koolaide, LOL
emotions and science
Doc Baker
Doc Baker
Jan 29, 2011 09:36 AM
Scottar -- it would help your argument if a) you weren't being rude and personal in attacking those who agree with the current scientific consensus on climate change and b) you used sources that weren't funded by the petrochemical industry (co2science is a site run by a single family, the Idso's who receive significant funding from groups like Exxon and the climatedepot is an obvious anti-environemntal/pro-industry site).

The comments you've made actually fit very well with the recent essay about how emotions interfere with wolf science -- there are far too many passionate people on both extremes of the climate change debate who lack a basic understanding of how the scientific method works and how we use it to advance knowledge. Unfortunately those with a vested interest in the outcome often twist this lack of understanding to manipulate public opinion.

By the way, speaking like you're an authority on Inuit culture and then putting in an unrelated comment about an intoxicated man and a bear shows you seem to be more interested in supporting your own rather biased opinions rather than talking about actual science.

Just sayin'

NM future
Jan 18, 2011 02:52 PM
Oh, s**t. And here I was seriously thinking of moving from crazy sorry Arizona to NM, another place with beautiful landscapes and weather. It was great under Richardson. It looks like I may be too late.
You must jest,
Jan 18, 2011 06:34 PM
Hahahahahaha! Well sir if that is indeed your way of thinking on the previous reign of unchecked political supremacy here in the great State of New Mexico then it is great news to hear you won't be coming to join the hoards insensible knee jerk commentators!
Jan 19, 2011 09:41 AM
It's her state now - we only live in it....
Her State
Jan 21, 2011 11:36 AM
It is not and never will be "her" state! We will fight her at every turn. This is New Mexico, not Texas!
Wayne Smyer
Wayne Smyer
Jan 21, 2011 07:14 AM
Move to Colorado! We still have a few rational voters!
Jan 21, 2011 07:21 AM
Too cold for me in Colorado! I really do like desert SW.
Is the milk safe?
Carol Miller
Carol Miller
Jan 18, 2011 06:56 PM
Is NM milk safe? Most of the dairies in the state are encircled by large military bases. If anyone can help us test NM milk and cheese for jet fuel and other military related pollutants, please contact the northern NM Peaceful Skies Coalition at
Eric  Havelock-Bailie
Eric Havelock-Bailie
Feb 14, 2011 02:38 PM
@Doc Baker above - thanks, couldn't have said it better myself - and I notice that Scottar had no reply