Emissions cap would be disaster

By Anna Cook: Guest columnist

It would be a grave mistake for New Mexico to impose the strict greenhouse gas emission cap that is being considered by the Environmental Improvement Board.

The proposed cap, which would apply only in New Mexico, would set us apart not only from surrounding states but from every single state, sending electric rates higher for all consumers and forcing all kinds of businesses, and their jobs, to relocate elsewhere. New Mexico cannot do that even in good times, but we certainly cannot afford to lose any more jobs or increase costs to ordinary New Mexicans during this extremely difficult recession.

Let’s set aside — just for this debate — all the questions about the causes of climate change and whether anything can be done to address it, and instead focus on the real question that is before the state: Should New Mexico adopt its own standards to address what is, at a minimum, a national issue and arguably is truly a global issue? The answer should be obvious to any objective observer.

But the New Energy Economy, which was created in 2004, has asked the state’s Environmental Improvement Board to force emitters of greenhouse gases — electric, oil and natural gas facilities — to not just cap emissions but to reduce them by 3 percent a year beginning in 2012. The economic impact of this unfounded mandate would be immediate and devastating.

Utility bills would increase, driving costs higher for everyone from home owners to farmers and ranchers. Oil and natural gas drilling and exploration would slow to a crawl, forcing layoffs at those businesses and the companies that supply them.

New Mexico would stand alone in imposing these harsh new requirements. In the end, New Mexico would lose more jobs and more tax revenue, and the potential environmental impact would be less than negligible because no other state would have imposed similar requirements.

It is time for citizens across the state to express their concerns regarding the proposed regulations. I join my fellow legislators — Sen. Clint Harden, R-Clovis, Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, and Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Texico — in strongly encouraging area residents come to the Clovis Civic Center at 2 p.m. Thursday and let your voice be heard.