Archive | January, 2011

New Mexico Supreme Court Blocks Governor From Violating Constitution for Polluters

New Mexico's Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. (Photo: Steve Terrell / Flickr)

New Mexico's Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. (Photo: Steve Terrell / Flickr)

On January 26, New Mexico’s Republican Gov. Susana Martinez was dealt a serious blow by her state’s Supreme Court, when it ruled unanimously that Governor Martinez had violated the state Constitution when she prevented a rule that reduced carbon pollution from being published as codified state law.

The lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit group New Energy Economy (NEE) and reflects a growing number of claims that Governor Martinez arbitrarily and illegally sought to suppress the aforementioned rule in an attempt to appease major carbon polluters, which made huge financial contributions to her gubernatorial campaign.

NEE’s lawsuit also brought to light emails showing deep collusion between Governor Martinez and TJ Trujillo, a lawyer who represents the dairy industry, and who is also a lobbyist for the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), which is by far and away the state’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. (PNM produces more than half of the greenhouse gas emissions for the State of New Mexico.)

“TJ Trujillo is a lobbyist for sale,” Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of NEE explained to Truthout, “He is a lobbyist for PNM. Governor Martinez ran her campaign on the whole idea of transparency, and here she is literally getting an email from an industry lawyer [Trujillo] on one day, and stopping the rules scheduled for publication the very next day.”

The revelation of the emails is also troubling because the dairy industry in New Mexico, which Trujillo lobbies for as well, was a large contributor to Martinez in the run up to her election.

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Gulf Coast Fighting for Recompense

Residents and fishermen outraged as BP’s compensation fund administrator denies ‘loss of income’ claims.

”]Gulf Coast businesses are closing down as they fail to secure compensation payouts [Photo: Erika Blumenfeld]“I just got off the phone with Feinberg’s people and I’m really upset,” says seafood merchant Michelle Chauncey from Barataria, Louisiana.

Her business, which sells wholesale and retail crabs, has not provided her with an income since the end of May, and her home is being foreclosed.

Attorney Kenneth Feinberg’s Washington-based firm, Feinberg Rozen, has been paid $850,000 a month by BP to administer a $20bn compensation fund and claims process for Gulf residents and fishermen affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion last April.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF), which Feinberg manages, was set up after negotiations between BP and the Obama administration, but over recent months there has been growing concern among the Coast’s residents that Feinberg is limiting compensation funds to claimants in order to decrease BP’s liability.

Late last month, Feinberg told Bloomberg Television that he anticipates that about half of the $20bn fund should be enough to cover claims for economic losses.

“It remains to be seen, but I would hope that half that money would be more than enough to pay all the claims,” he said.

Read the rest of this story at Al-Jazeera English.

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New Mexico Governor Violating Constitution for Polluters

A coal power plant in New Mexico. The state's newly elected governor's financial ties to oil and gas producers has attempted to subvert her own State Constitution to prevent a plan that reduces carbon emissions from taking effect. (Photo: glennia)

A coal power plant in New Mexico. The state's newly elected governor's financial ties to oil and gas producers has attempted to subvert her own State Constitution to prevent a plan that reduces carbon emissions from taking effect. (Photo: glennia)

A coal power plant in New Mexico. The state’s newly elected governor’s financial ties to oil and gas producers has attempted to subvert her own State Constitution to prevent a plan that reduces carbon emissions from taking effect. (Photo: glennIn an effort to tackle the climate change crisis, on December 6, 2010, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) adopted New Energy Economy’s (NEE) rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels, with a goal to reduce emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

According to NEE, this rule enables effective and efficient carbon pollution reduction that will foster both clean energy job creation and prosperity for New Mexico’s families and communities. By taking the lead on this critical issue, New Mexico and NEE have created a practical, transportable model for the rest of the country to follow.

The problem is, New Mexico’s newly elected conservative governor, Republican Susana Martinez – who has financial ties to oil and gas producers and individuals – has attempted to subvert her own state constitution in order to stop this plan to begin reducing her state’s carbon emissions.

“Because there’s no federal climate legislation, it’s up to the states to lead,” Mariel Nanasi, the executive director of NEE, told Truthout. “New Mexico is an energy-producing state. We produce and export energy, so it’s important that an energy-producing state expand its energy portfolio to include renewable energy.”

According to Nanasi, the new regulations actually create investment and jobs, and the only people opposed to it are a select group of big polluters.

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Sick Gulf Residents Beg Officials for Help

Cherri Foytlin, co-founder of Gulf Change, at a rally at the state capital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 2010.

Cherri Foytlin, co-founder of Gulf Change, at a rally at the state capital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, October 2010.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – In an emotionally charged meeting this week sponsored by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, fishermen, Gulf residents and community leaders vented their increasingly grave concerns about the widespread health issues brought on by the three-month-long disaster.

“Today I’m talking to you about my life,” Cherri Foytlin told the two commissioners present at the Jan. 12 meeting. “My ethylbenzene levels are 2.5 times the 95th percentile, and there’s a very good chance now that I won’t get to see my grandbabies…What I’m asking you to do now, if possible, is to amend [your report]. Because we have got to get some health care.”

Ethylbenzene is a form of benzene present in the body when it begins to break down. It is also present in BP’s crude oil.

“I have seen small children with lesions all over their bodies,” Foytlin, co-founder of Gulf Change, a community organisation based in Grand Isle, Louisiana, continued.

“We are very, very ill. And dead is dead. So it really doesn’t matter if the media comes back… or the president hears us, or… if the oil workers and the fishermen and the crabbers get to feed their babies and maybe have a good Christmas next year… Dead is dead…I know your job is probably already done, but I’d like to hire you if you don’t mind. And God knows I can’t pay you. But I need your heart. And I need your voice.” Continue Reading →

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