New Mexico is one of the most topographically diverse states in the country — from arid Chihuahuan Desert regions to sections in the cool Sangre de Christo Mountains climbing 13,000 feet and forming the southern subrange of the Rockies.
It’s a big reason the New Mexico Environment Department under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez announced Friday it’s joining four states in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, complaining the federal government’s new ozone rule is unfair.
“Our state has background ozone conditions which are not effectively and equally addressed by the EPA’s new and autocratic ozone standards,” NMED secretary Ryan Flynn said in a statement, adding “New Mexico is not New Jersey.”
But EPA officials say the new rule for ozone — which essentially covers what’s called smog coming primarily from tailpipes and smokestacks — gives individual states plenty of time to get in compliance.
“EPA works closely with states to implement the more protective standards,” an agency spokeswoman told Watchdog.org in an email. “Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have until between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards.”
Last month, EPA announced it was toughening ozone standards across the country — from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion.
New Mexico complains the stricter rule penalizes the Land of Enchantment more than other states and puts New Mexico at greater risk to face potential EPA fines.