NM heads of environment, veterans affairs selected

-A A +A

SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) — An experienced engineer and adjunct professor was nominated Friday by Gov. Susana Martinez to run a state agency that has been in the spotlight recently over its plans to participate in a regional cap-and-trade program aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

F. David Martin, a New Mexico Tech adjunct associate professor, was selected as cabinet secretary of the Environment Department.

Martinez also named retired Col. Timothy Hale as secretary of Veterans Affairs. He commanded the 486th Expeditionary Operations Group during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"As a decorated Air Force veteran and an experienced engineer, Col. Hale and Mr. Martin have the expertise it takes to help move our state forward to a more prosperous and successful future," the Republican governor said.

Martin, who holds engineering degrees from New Mexico Tech and Texas Tech, teaches in the petroleum and chemical engineering department. In 1990, he was appointed by then-Gov. Garrey Carruthers to coordinate policy between the state and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Martin said he looks forward to working with Martinez to "implement commonsense policies that keep New Mexico beautiful and protect our environment while allowing for responsible development of our vast natural resources."

The Environment Department oversees permitting programs for everything from power plants and mining operations to national laboratories and other industrial operators to ensure state air and water quality standards are maintained and public health is protected.

The department successfully petitioned a state regulatory board to adopt new rules for a regional cap-and-trade program.

Supporters contend the program will benefit the economy by encouraging clean energy development and help the state prepare for any potential future federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Martinez has been a vocal opponent, promising to undo the cap-and-trade program along with other rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico.

Hale, who retired from the Air Force in 2008, heads Higher Calling Aviation, Inc., which provides flight training in central New Mexico. He holds a bachelor's degree from St. Louis University and master's degrees from Webster University and from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Hale said he was honored Martinez tasked him with ensuring that New Mexico fulfills its commitment to veterans.

"Our veterans put their lives on the line for their country and we owe it to them to provide the care and services they deserve," he said.