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Artesians band together to protest NMEIB proposal

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Artesia citizen David Harris, right, voices his opposition to a proposal by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (NMEIB) to Felicia Orth, NMEIB hearing officer, during a public hearing held at the Artesia Center today. Artesians were nearly-unanimous in their opposition to the proposal, which is aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by oil producers and other industries by three percent annually, beginning in 2012. Jason Watkins photo)

Daily Press Staff Writer

Concerned Artesia citizens, oil and gas industry employees and area farmers poured into the Artesia Center Tuesday morning, voicing a nearly-unanimous opposition to a pair of proposals for a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions (GGHs).

The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (NMEIB) is considering a proposal that would require electricity generators and oil and gas producers in New Mexico with greenhouse gas emissions exceeding 25,000 metric tons per year to reduce emissions by three percent annually.

Artesians in attendance at the hearing stood before hearing officer Felicia Orth, representing the NMEIB, and voiced strong opposition to the measure that many say would cripple — or kill — the economy in the oil-producing, southern portion of the state.

“(The cap) would leave New Mexico more impoverished, less employed and less attractive to new business,” Anna Pitts, a Central Valley Electric employee, said during the hearing.

Each person was allowed three minutes to state their opinions of the proposal, which was initiated by a Santa Fe group called the New Energy Economy. According to newenergyeconomy.org, the organization intends to make New Mexico a “model for adoption in other states” by creating the “strongest cap in the nation.”

The NMEIB board, made up of members appointed by Gov. Bill Richardson, will vote to adopt or kill the measure later this year. Lawmakers in California, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Oregan, Utah, Washington and four Canadian provinces have considered the Western Climate Initiative, a collaboration of independent jurisdictions aimed at “tackling climate change at a regional level.” … For the rest of the story, subscribe in print and on the web.

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