SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Supreme Court sided with environmental groups today when it granted a writ of mandamus to the New Mexico State Records Administrator, compelling her to print the adopted and final greenhouse gas cap and dairy discharge rules. The printing of the rules was halted earlier in the month by Governor Martinez’ Executive Order which suggested the rules were “pending” and therefore subject to a ninety day hold for review.
“This is a tremendous and deserved victory for the administration of justice in New Mexico,” stated Bruce Frederick, staff attorney of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), the nonprofit law firm that brought two suits against the Governor for its clients, New Energy Economy and Amigos Bravos. “The ruling ensures that our regulations will continue to be developed in a public and open process, and be protected from revision through secret, backroom deals.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Daniels stated, when announcing the court’s decision, the Court did not think it necessary to issue a writ against the Governor or the Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department. “The issue is whether the suspension of the printing of the rules was proper. We will issue a writ against the State Records Administrator. She has a non-discretionary administrative duty to follow the law.”
“The ruling sends a strong message to Governor Martinez and her cabinet secretaries,” said Douglas Meiklejohn, NMELC Executive Director, “they must follow the law, just like the citizens they govern.”
Immediately after the Governor’s swearing in on January 1st, 2011, Governor Martinez enacted an Executive Order that imposes a ninety day hold on all proposed or pending rules. The Order calls for a “Small Business-Friendly Task Force” chaired by the Secretary of Economic Development to identify “each rule or regulation, the rescinding or revision of which could significantly enhance the business environment in New Mexico.”
On January 3rd, the NMELC received an anonymous tip that the Governor’s office was using the Executive Order to stop the printing and codification of 32 adopted and final regulations.
On January 11th, the NMELC filed suit for its client, New Energy Economy, in New Mexico Supreme Court against the State Governor, the Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department, and the New Mexico State Records Administrator. They petitioned the Court for a writ of mandamus to compel the Governor and Environment Department Secretary, to comply with existing law, and to compel the State Records Center to codify and publish the adopted and final greenhouse gas regulation in the State Register.
On January 13th, the NMELC filed a similar suit for its client, Amigos Bravos, over the halt of printing adopted and final dairy discharge regulations.
The mission of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center is to protect New Mexico’s natural environment and achieve environmental justice for New Mexico’s communities through legal representation, policy advocacy and public education. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center’s attorneys have handled over 100 critical cases in low-income and minority communities fighting pollution and environmental degradation. It charges few, if any, fees to its clients, most of whom are from Hispanic and Native American communities. The NMELC celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2008. Membership and gifts help New Mexico communities protect their natural environment and their health from toxic pollution and liabilities created by irresponsible mining. Contact: Sebia Hawkins, Director of Development 505-989-9022.
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