With staff from Tri-State’s Environmental Services and Communications & Public Affairs groups in attendance, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) this past Friday (March 16) repealed the last of four misguided regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The unanimous 5-0 vote – with two EIB members recusing themselves – is considered a regulatory victory for the nearly 200,000 residential, agricultural and business member-owners of Tri-State’s 12 member cooperatives in New Mexico.
Adopted in 2010, the first three regulations sought to impose a cap-and-trade system; that set of rules was repealed earlier this year by the EIB. The fourth regulation would have imposed a hard emissions cap that would have required power plants and other carbon emitters statewide to cut CO2 releases by three percent per year beginning in 2013. As several expert witnesses testified, however, the rule would have had few tangible benefits for the environment and little or no influence in encouraging other state or federal regulators to enact greenhouse gas initiatives of their own.
What the rules would have done is hurt small businesses, families and agricultural producers from many of the poorest parts of New Mexico. Tri-State’s own estimates predicted that imposition of the 2010 regulations would have caused the state’s GDP to decline by $317 million to $1.3 billion through 2030 and employment to generate 322 to 1,511 fewer jobs by 2020 – all while causing, at best, only a 0.004 percent to 0.006 percent average annual reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions.
Tri-State was joined by several partners in opposing the regulations and working to secure their repeal, including staff and members from the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association, New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, the City of Farmington, PNM, El Paso Electric and more than 18,000 followers of the Keep Electricity Affordable campaign who made their voices heard.