New Mexico’s New Governor Blocks Carbon Reduction Plan

By: - January 11, 2011 12:00 am

GREENHOUSE GAS REVERSAL: One of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez’s first actions in office was to block a rule that would have required stationary sources of greenhouse gases such as power plants to reduce their emissions by 3 percent a year, the New York Times

reports . That regulation was approved late last year by the state’s Environmental Improvement Board, but Martinez blocked it from being published in the state register, preventing the rule from going into effect. Martinez, a Republican who replaced Democrat Bill Richardson, also fired the entire improvement board. Martinez is a skeptic of human-caused global warming, as is her choice to lead the state’s Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources, former astronaut and ex-U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt.

WASTE’S NEW HOME: Low-level radioactive waste from 36 states could be on its way to Texas after a decision by an obscure state commission, the Wall Street Journal

reports . The waste dump, which is set to open by the end of the year in Texas’ far west, originally was intended to hold only waste from Texas and Vermont . But there are just three active dumps in the United States for low-level nuclear waste, leaving many states without a permanent place to send their waste. That’s why the nuclear industry cheered when the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, a body appointed by the governor, voted last week to create rules for accepting waste from other states. Consumer groups are worried about the privately owned dump’s effect on water quality and are planning to sue to block the commission’s move.

COAL COURT FIGHT: Even with a new governor, Michigan is still fighting a court ruling that said the state wrongly rejected a new coal plant. Environmentalists pressed Governor Rick Snyder to appeal the ruling by a county judge and the newly elected Republican’s administration announced last week that it would, the Detroit Free Press

reports . At issue is a 2009 executive order from Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm that allowed state regulators to evaluate whether coal plants were really needed. An Ottawa County judge ruled in December that denying plants on the basis of need was illegal.

PRO-GROWTH PICKS: New Florida Governor Rick Scott’s appointments have environmentalists worried, the St. Petersburg Times

reports . Scott has picked Billy Buzzett, one of the state’s leading developers, to head the Department of Community Affairs, which manages growth in Florida. The appointment is another sign that Scott plans to focus the state’s environmental bureaucracy more on encouraging economic growth and less on regulating development. Along those lines, Scott’s transition team has recommended that he combine the Department of Community Affairs, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection into one agency: the “Department of Growth Leadership.”

OIL TAXES REVISITED: A renewed debate over oil taxes is expected to be a top issue in the Alaska legislature, the Anchorage Daily News

reports . The debate reflects a shift in Alaska’s political mood since 2007, when the state raised taxes on oil companies under Governor Sarah Palin. Governor Sean Parnell was Palin’s lieutenant governor at the time, but with oil companies complaining that the taxes are limiting their ability to boost oil production, he’s now shifted to supporting limits on the taxes. The key chamber to watch is the Senate. Some Democrats still support the higher tax rates and the party has more power in the upper chamber. The Senate has 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats and is led by a bipartisan majority caucus with more Democrats than Republicans.

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Josh Goodman

Josh Goodman helps lead research on fiscal management and place-based economic development programs as part of Pew’s state fiscal health project. Goodman has served as a primary author for Pew studies that examine how states should evaluate tax incentives and maintain budget discipline when implementing those incentives.