Cap propsal may proceed

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Petition supporters argued that the case raised questions about separation of powers

By Susan M. Bryan

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for a state regulatory panel to resume consideration of a petition to establish a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

The justices vacated a lower court ruling that effectively halted the state Environmental Improvement Board’s process for gathering expert testimony and public comments related to an environmental group’s emissions proposal.

Lawyers for the group, New Energy Economy, and the regulatory panel had asked the high court to overturn a preliminary injunction that Lovington Judge William Shoobridge granted in April while he considered the merits of the case. Opponents had filed a lawsuit in his court, arguing that the panel did not have authority to regulate greenhouse gases and that such a regulation would ultimately harm New Mexico’s economy.

Petition supporters argued that the case raised questions about separation of powers and if allowed to stand, Shoobridge’s ruling would cripple state agencies’ ability to carry out appointed responsibilities.

Chief Justice Charles Daniels agreed, saying the judicial branch must exercise its power without interfering in administrative processes.

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