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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Nightmare to Come: Susana Martinez Names Her Husband, Oil & Gas Producers to Environmental Search Committee

Be prepared for the possibility of an environmental disaster, New Mexico. We will soon have a governor beholden to the oil and gas industry who is bent on freeing her campaign donors and other moneyed interests from environmental oversight. Prepare to watch our state's reputation as a green energy and environmental protection leader go down the drain if the new governor and her cronies get their way.

Yesterday, Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez released the names of individuals who will make up a search committee for top energy and environmental jobs in her administration. The committee will be headed by Pete Domenici Jr., who was a not-very-successful challenger to Martinez in the GOP gubernatorial primary who ended up donating $6,000 to the Martinez campaign. Domenici, the son of former Sen. Pete Domenici, is an environmental lawyer who has defended a number of polluters.

The committee is dominated by oil and gas producers and includes -- wait for it -- Susana's husband, Chuck Franco, a Doña Ana County undersheriff who is being described as an "avid outdoorsman." Besides Domenici and Franco, the group is comprised of:

  • T. Greg Merrion, the president of Merrion Oil & Gas in Farmington, past president of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico and past chairman of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association. Merrion OIl and Gas donated $16,000 to the Martinez campaign.

    Merrion serves on the board of the Western Energy Alliance (WEA), formerly the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States. The WEA website says the lobbying group provides "Comprehensive representation in Washington and across the West focusing on: access to government lands for exploration and production, federal agency permitting, air and water quality, reform of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA), wildlife conservation, health and safety, taxation, and other issues."
  • Mark Murphy of Strata Production Company, an oil and gas company based in Roswell. Murphy donated $8,000 to the Susana Martinez campaign and Strata gave $24,000.
  • Joel Carson, general counsel to Mack Energy, an Artesia-based oil and gas company. Carson donated $2,500 to the Martinez campaign and Mack Energy contributed $117,500.
  • Dennis L. Hjeresen, division leader for Environmental Protection at Los Alamos National Laboratory;
  • Rance Miles, Executive Director of Select Milk Producers, which donated $42,500 to the Martinez campaign. Miles was one of the targets of an insider trading suit brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2004, which was settled by the parties. Select Milk is the parent company of the Southwest Cheese LLC
  • Roy Farr, who owns the Farr Cattle Company in Datil in Catron County, New Mexico.

During her campaign, Martinez promised to get rid of a number of environmental regulations, including the so-called pit rule that protects ground water from drilling pollution. When Martinez becomes governor on January 1, she will control the Energy and Natural Resources Department, the Energy Department and the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB). Last week the EIB issued regulations for a cap-and-trade program Martinez has said she opposes, and on which she has said she will try to place a moratorium. 

The names of the individuals named to the search committee are from a New Mexico Independent article. I am not currently receiving press releases from the Martinez transition team, despite having requested that I be added to the email list. Martinez made "transparency" a big deal in her campaign but apparently is into picking and choosing who is on her release list.

November 10, 2010 at 11:40 AM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Energy, Environment, Susana Martinez | Permalink


At least we knew that she was an oil backed politician.
I hope the people of Santa Fe County try their best to protect our thin aquifer from her team's oil drilling!

Posted by: Rick | Nov 10, 2010 12:37:52 PM

Funny, her entire campaign was about "rooting out corruption" and getting rid of "pay to play." This is not a good start.

Posted by: What, Me Worry? | Nov 10, 2010 1:03:48 PM

@What Me Worry, that was my thought as well but I am not surprised. When republickers whine as Ms Martinez did about corruption and just about anything else, what they are really saying is that its OK for them to do it but not for others. Its part of that "entitlement mentality" that most of the GOP and their followers seem to have.

Posted by: VP | Nov 11, 2010 11:08:51 AM

blah blah blah... interesting that democrats kept calling republicans the "fearmongering" party. What is this that you're doing here? She won the election fair and square, you have a problem with that?

Posted by: Pablo | Nov 11, 2010 12:52:54 PM

There is no fearmongering here. There are facts that show Martinez is full of hot air and is rewarding cronies and planning to give away the store to polluters. Do you have a problem with facts?

Posted by: Old Dem | Nov 11, 2010 3:15:42 PM