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The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Monday afternoon in a legal battle over an environmental group's effort to establish a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

State regulators and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center are asking the justices to order a District Court judge in Lovington to reverse an earlier decision that halted the effort by New Energy Economy to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Judge William Shoobridge granted a preliminary injunction in April that prohibited the state Environmental Improvement Board from continuing proceedings on New Energy Economy's petition.

Petition supporters argue that if allowed to stand, the judge's ruling would cripple state agencies' ability to carry out appointed responsibilities. They say the high court must hear the case because it raises questions about separation of powers and judicial interference in an administrative process.

New Mexico's largest utility, four state lawmakers and other industry groups sued in January to stop the Environmental Improvement Board from considering the petition. New Energy Economy and regulators countered with a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, a move that Shoobridge rejected.

Public Service Company of New Mexico, one of the plaintiffs, has argued that a state cap on greenhouse gas emissions would be costly for businesses and utility customers and that the emissions debate should be settled by the federal government.


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