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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Governor Must Clear Way for Environmental Regs

(CN) - New Mexico's governor cannot delay the publication of new environmental regulations, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled.

Gov. Susana Martinez, state environmental department secretary F. David Martin and state records administrator Sandra Jaramillo had challenged the petitions filed by three groups trying to compel the state to publish regulations that had been adopted by dozens of state agencies, including the Environmental Improvement Board and the Water Quality Control Commission.

When Martinez took over as governor on Jan. 1, she put a freeze on pending rules and regulations under the governor's authority for a 90-day period of review.

She also stopped the publication of the pending regulations, which were scheduled to be published on Jan. 14.

Writing for the court's five-judge panel, Justice Edward Chavez held that the regulations must be published pursuant to the "great public importance" doctrine. The court consolidated the two petitions brought by Amigos Bravos, Caballo Concerned Citizens Group and New Energy Economy Inc.

"Cases in which great public importance standing has been recognized involve clear threats to the essential nature of state government guaranteed to New Mexico citizens under their constitution," Chavez wrote.

The ruling also states that the agencies all have powers that are independent of the governor.

"The state records administrator breached a clear, indisputable, and non-discretionary duty to publish regulations accepted for filing with the Records Center," Chavez wrote. "Therefore, a writ of mandamus to publish (the regulations) forthwith has been issued."

"To the extent the attorney for Gov. Martinez, acting as her agent, and (the acting environmental secretary) ordered the Records Center not to publish these regulations, they were without constitutional authority to do so," he added.

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