One month after a Santa Fe environmental group called for their recusal, two Environmental Improvement Board members say they won't hear petitions to repeal new state emissions requirements.
New Energy Economy had alleged Gregory Fulfer and James Casciano of conflicts of interest, particularly for testifying against the same rules to the previous EIB. Gov. Susana Martinez appointed new EIB members, including Fulfer and Casciano, at the start of her administration. Both members said yesterday that they wouldn't participate in the ongoing case.
Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy's executive director, says EIB members are supposed to act as impartial judges in cases like this.
"How can you be a judge and testify against the same rules you're judging?" Nanasi tells SFR.
For their part, both Fulfer and Casciano told the Associated Press that they could be fair and impartial but are stepping down to remove any cloud of a potential conflict. They've also both acknowledged their previous testimonies, which Nanasi says her group first found out about through public document requests.
The emissions rules in question were adopted partly to affirm New Mexico's participation in a regional cap-and-trade program. A previous EIB, appointed by then-Gov. Bill Richardson, approved them. They require facilities emitting more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide to reduce emissions by 3 percent from 2010 levels each year starting in 2013.
New Energy Economy also called for member Deborah Peacock to recuse herself from the case for meeting with representatives of utility company PNM in private. Peacock says she'll remain on the case.
Nanasi says the fact that the rules were brought back up after being approved by previous EIB members is "extremely unusual." She argues that there's no new evidence to debunk the effectiveness of new emissions standards since they've been passed.
"Unless there's new evidence against it, you cannot change the rule," she says. "That's arbitrary and capricious."
Photo courtesy of Sierra Club - Central New Mexico chapter.