Governor faces lawsuits

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By Associated Press

SANTA FE — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is facing two  lawsuits that contend she is illegally stopping newly approved pollution control measures from taking effect.
Thursday,  a coalition of groups, including Amigos Bravos and Caballo Concerned Citizens, asked the state Supreme Court to order her administration to move ahead with publishing new groundwater regulations governing discharges by dairies.
The rules were approved last month by the Water Quality Control Commission under former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration and were to be published Friday, to take effect at the end of the month.
The Martinez administration, however, halted the publication of the dairy rules and other pending regulations after she took office.
Earlier this week, a lawsuit was filed over the administration’s handling of regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and the Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear arguments in that case on Jan. 26.
Both lawsuits contend that Martinez has exceeded her powers by blocking the publication of rules after they were adopted by regulators.
Scott Darnell, a spokeman for Martinez, said publication of the rules has been postponed temporarily while the administration reviews all pending regulations. Minutes after taking office on Jan. 1, the governor issued an executive order to suspend pending and proposed regulations for 90 days while they are reviewed by a task force.
Jonathan Block, a lawyer for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, which represents the groups bringing the lawsuit, said state law requires rules to be published in the New Mexico Register after they were adopted and filed with the State Records Center.
“The governor cannot circumvent the law or expand her powers by executive order,” said Block.
The Supreme Court has asked the Martinez administration to file a response to the lawsuits. No hearing has been set for the case involving dairy regulations, but Block said he hoped the court would make it part of the hearing over the greenhouse gas regulations.