By Tracy Dingmann
A public information request has unearthed state emails showing that lawyers working with former New Mexico Lt. Gov. and current dairy industry lobbyist Walter Bradley helped write the executive order that halted a number of environmental regulations shortly after Susana Martinez became Governor on Jan. 1.
The emails also show the dairy attorneys advised various state officials to prevent certain rules from printing so they would be subject to the Governor’s executive order.
First, The Executive Order
Martinez issued the order minutes after she became Governor, halting all “proposed and pending rules and regulations” for 90 days pending review by a “small business-friendly task force.”
Her order put on hold a number of recently adopted regulations, including state rules regulating water pollution by dairies and a cap on carbon emissions. Those regulations had been passed, but had not yet been printed in the state register – so, the Martinez administration maintained, they were not yet law and thus were subject to the executive order.
Then, The Lawsuits
The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) filed two suits on behalf of their clients New Energy Economy, Amigos Bravos and others, challenging the order as it applied specifically to the dairy rules and the carbon cap.
Yesterday, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld that argument and ruled that Martinez had violated the law by trying to use her executive powers to halt the printing and stop the regulations from being enacted.
That was one thing.
The Secret Emails
But in a shocking twist, papers the NMELC filed Jan. 25 at the New Mexico Supreme Court in connection with the suits reveal an intense collaboration between Martinez and the dairy industry regarding the halted regulations.
The revelation of the emails is troubling, because the dairy industry in New Mexico was a large contributor to Martinez in the run up to the election – and because it has been very outspoken in its opposition to the dairy wastewater rules Martinez attempted to halt with her executive order.
In the papers, NMELC lawyers reproduce emails they obtained from the Martinez administration through a Jan. 5 public information request showing Bradley telling Martinez transition chief Brian Moore that the dairy attorneys “drafted some language for the ex. order.” (Hat tip to KUNM’s Jim Williams, who first posted the document online).
Here’s the entire email from Bradley to Moore, dated Jan. 12:
Our attorneys (for the Dairy Group) Dal Moellenberg and TJ Trujillo of Gallagher & Kennedy drafted some language for the ex. Order. We all assumed the environmental groups would sue and obviously they have. In speaking with TJ and Dal we want to offer any help you may ask for as we are very supportive of this action and are willing to help defend it. Please feel free to have your legal counsel call TJ or Dal at their convenience. (T)he number in Santa Fé is 982-9523 or you can call me at 505-238-3007 and I will immediately deliver a message. Thank you. Walter
The court papers, filed by the NMELC on behalf of their clients, show that lawyers from the dairy industry – at Bradley’s request – also provided specific legal advice to the Martinez administration on Jan. 3, advising Moore that the dairy “…rules are not effective, valid or enforceable until mid-January, when such rules are published in the New Mexico Register.”
In a Jan. 3 email to Moore, dairy attorney T.J. Trujillo goes much further with his advice:
“…I called John Martinez, Administrative Law Division Director, to determine how this state agency would deal with the dairy rules in light of the new Executive Order. Mr. Martinez informed me that the Administrative Law Division would proceed with the publication of the dairy rules unless they received notification from the (Water Quality Control Commission that the dairy rules needed to be pulled pursuant to the Executive Order. Moreover, the last day to stop publication of the dairy rules is tomorrow due to the fact that the rules have to get type-setted (sic) for publication in the New Mexico Register. Finally, Mr. Martinez told me that he was planning on calling Keith Gardner to discuss this situation and several other rules that are pending.
In response, I called Mr. Bradley to inform him of the situation. My interpretation of the Executive Order is that it would apply to the actions of the Administrative Law Division; therefore, they would have the authority to stop the publication of the dairy rules independent of any action by the WQCC. The rules are not final until they are published in the New Mexico register. I told Mr. Bradley that it might be useful to discuss the situation with Mr. Martinez to determine an appropriate method of proceeding forward. The telephone number for Mr. Martinez is 476-7941.
Please let me know if you have any question or need additional information
Taken on their face, these emails from Bradley and the dairy attorneys to the Martinez administration show a disturbing amount of collaboration between the Gov. and some of her biggest contributors – regarding specific environmental regulations they don’t want.
Is anyone else bothered by this?
In case you might be wondering why newly elected Governor Susan Martinez disbanded the Environmental Improvement board and tried to prevent environmental laws from being enforced within minutes of being sworn in, here’s the straight dope: