New Mexico establishes 3-percent carbon cap

New Mexico’s Environmental Improvement Board on Monday passed a program designed to cut down on the carbon emissions from the state’s largest greenhouse gas producers. The cap-and-trade program would require the state’s largest polluters to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels beginning in 2013.

The board was responding to a petition by New Energy Economy, a New Mexico nonprofit.

“This new policy makes New Mexico the nation’s leader in carbon pollution reduction while at the same time stimulating our economy and creating jobs for New Mexico families and communities,” New Energy Economy policy advisor Mariel Nanasi said in a statement. “The board understands that the same technologies that can reduce carbon pollution can also make New Mexico more competitive in the clean energy economy, which means more long-term, well-paying jobs for New Mexicans.”

Opponents of the program say that the program will do little to change the environment and will instead put New Mexico companies at a disadvantage because of the increased costs of creating energy.

The restrictions would apply to stationary sources that emit more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, such as coal-powered power plants and other large-scale industrial areas.

The EIB will almost certainly be replaced by appointees of Susana Martinez once she is sworn into office. Martinez has opposed cap-and-trade programs, both this one and the regional cap and trade agreement which the board approved in November.

The state Supreme Court ruled in June that the EIB could continue to consider an emissions cap despite a suit by PNM Resources and oil and gas industries. This reversed an earlier decision in Lovington District Court that stopped the EIB’s discussion of New Energy Economy’s 2008 petition.

The statewide cap and trade program would begin in 2013 and end in 2020 or if a national or regional program was put in place before then. The program would also go under a reevaluation in 2014.