SANTA FE, N.M. - The New Mexico Court of Appeals struck down an effort by the Martinez Administration to repeal regulations favorable to the environment and reinstated the state’s energy efficiency building codes.
The energy codes, adopted before Governor Martinez came into office, were repealed by the State Construction Industries Commission in the summer of 2011. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) appealed the Commission’s move on seven grounds, including that the Commission failed to state the reasons for its decision as is required of all administrative agencies. The Court of Appeals agreed, and reversed the Commission’s decision. (Get PDF of Court of Appeals ruling)
“This is another example of this Administration trying to undo regulations designed to protect the environment and consumers without following applicable law,” says Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director and lead counsel on the case. “It is well established that agencies must provide the reasoning for their decisions, but the Commission’s only effort to do so came more than a month after the Commission made its decision. Once again a court has had to explain to the Administration that the law applies to everyone.”
The NMELC represents Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Sundancer Creations, eSolved, Inc., Environment New Mexico, the Sierra Club and several individuals.
The energy efficiency building codes were adopted after a comprehensive public process that took a year to complete and included input from a variety of different interests. The codes govern construction of new buildings, and they were projected by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project to reduce energy use in New Mexico by approximately 20%, saving owners of new homes in New Mexico as much as $66 million during the next 10 years.
“New Mexicans spent a great deal of time and energy creating a state building code that saved citizens money and reduced our energy use. We are pleased that the Court of Appeals agrees that the Administration can’t just rollback consumer protections like this without due consideration,” says Tammy Fiebelkorn the New Mexico Representative for SWEEP.
The codes were developed during an 18 month collaborative process between public-interest groups, the construction industry, green builders, and regulators. The resulting energy codes were some of the strongest in the nation, requiring that new construction be 20% more energy-efficient than under the previous code.
Ignoring requirements governing public hearings, the Construction Industries Commission (made up of Gov. Martinez appointees) repealed the codes in June, 2011 and replaced them with weaker standards. NMELC filed a lawsuit against the Commission in state appellate court in July 2011.
Communications and Public Education Officer
New Mexico Environmental Law Center
505-989-9022, ext. 30