By a vote of 4-3, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) has adopted a set of rules proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department that are designed to reduce global-warming pollutants through a regional cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the EIB, the new rules are the most comprehensive GHG-reduction regulations in the U.S.
The new regulations will enable the state to participate in a regional GHG cap-and-trade program with other U.S. states and Canadian provinces through the Western Climate Initiative (WCI). The WCI is a collaborative of seven western states and four Canadian provinces that are developing strategies to address climate change.
The program, which is scheduled to start in 2012, will affect approximately 63 large industrial sources in New Mexico. Those sources include electric generators and the largest emission sources in the oil and gas sector. Each source would be required to reduce its emissions by 2% per year until 2020 or acquire emissions credits from other participants.
The program will not be triggered unless at least 100 million tons of emissions are included regionally, which ensures that New Mexico will not implement a trading program alone, the EIB adds. The program would need to be more than four times larger than New Mexico's annual emissions of approximately 24 million tons.