Wolf vs. State

Guv-appointed commission yanks New Mexico's support for wolf reintroduction

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, June 30, 2011

The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program has a simple premise: reintegrate an endangered species into its natural habitat. In practice, however, bringing the wolf back to the Southwest has proven to be anything but easy, with environmental groups and ranchers maintaining a heated debate during the 13 years the program’s been in existence.

The state’s Game Commission voted unanimously on June 9 to withdraw from the reintroduction effort. Gov. Susana Martinez appointed four new members to the six-member board in March. Bill Montoya is one of those new members. “It was costing us a lot of money,” says Montoya, who worked for the Game and Fish Department for 28 years. “We didn’t think we were going in the right direction.”

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State Looks to Reverse Green Building Codes

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, May 19, 2011

On Earth Day, one state commission took the first step toward rolling back energy-efficient building requirements.

The group is the Construction Industries Commission, and the legislation in question is the New Mexico Energy Conservation Code, adopted late last year after more than 12 months of weekly open meetings and five public hearings. During its April 22 meeting, the commission voted unanimously to start the process of repealing the standards. Public hearings are scheduled in four cities on the same day, June 2.

The commission is the same entity that unanimously approved the rules last year, but it has new members appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Some believe the decision to reverse the regulations stems from the also-governor-appointed Small Business-Friendly Task Force, which shares two members with the commission. The task force’s position: State rules shouldn’t be more demanding than national standards.

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Utilities Protest Carbon Caps

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, April 28, 2011

Greenhouse gas rules in New Mexico just can’t catch a break. After escaping Gov. Susana Martinez—and demise in the Legislature—they’re in the crosshairs of utility companies.

The death-defying regulations have a singular goal: to reduce carbon emissions in the state.

Don Brown, spokesperson for PNM, says that’s an expensive proposition. “We’re concerned this would increase the cost of living here, as well as hamper the ability to recruit business here,” he says. “The concern is that it puts us at an economic disadvantage.”

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Trading Greenbacks for "Green"

Will changing the city's building requirements be a boon or a bust?

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, April 21, 2011

Two steps forward, one step back. That’s how some people describe a change to Albuquerque’s building requirements. The city says the move will save much-needed money while continuing to take a step forward with conservation, but critics argue it’s a big step backward.

The City of Albuquerque climbed aboard the sustainability bandwagon a few years ago, launching the AlbuquerqueGreen campaign, adopting the nationwide 2030 Challenge and declaring victoriously that all new city vehicles would be powered with alternative fuel. In 2005, it even adopted a law requiring some new structures to meet the guidelines of the world’s most recognized and respected system. Buildings more than 5,000 square feet would have to follow standards set by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

What that last bit means is that when larger structures were built or majorly renovated, they had to meet requirements of energy efficiency, water conservation, lighting and air quality.

On Feb. 7, the City Council unanimously repealed this law, replacing it with older conservation rules. The 2009 code addresses energy efficiency, but it doesn’t outline standards for many other aspects covered in LEED. Some green-building advocates worry the move may serve as a bellwether for the city’s attitude toward sustainability and speculate about the larger implications of this change.

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Roundhouse 2011: Playing Chicken With Millions

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, March 24, 2011

Part of the Weekly Alibi's Roundhouse 2011


Marriage for the Masses

Take one step forward and someone (or in this case, three someones) will try to knock you back two more.

Early this year, Attorney General Gary King issued an official opinion stating that same-sex marriages performed in other states could be recognized in New Mexico. On the heels of that announcement, Sen. William Sharer (R-Farmington), Rep. Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell) and Rep. David Chavez (R-Los Lunas) all introduced measures asking that marriage be defined as solely between a man and a woman in this state. Chavez’ resolution, along with another bill he filed, goes a step further, proposing that same-sex marriages performed in other states not be recognized here, nullifying King’s opinion.

The measures would have needed to be approved by voters before being signed into law, but none of them made it out of their various committees.

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