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Keller vetoes alterations to Air Quality Control Board

Editors note 12/13/23: Originally published in our Dec. 4 print edition. 

On Nov. 22, Mayor Tim Keller vetoed legislation which sought to abolish and recreate the Albuquerque-Bernalillo Air Quality Control Board with substantial changes.

This stops the implementation of the legislation by City Council unless they override the veto with two-thirds of their membership, according to Albuquerque ordinance.

Keller listed three reasons why he vetoed the legislation in his veto message delivered to City Council. Neither the Mayor nor his office were contacted in regards to the legislation; the legislation itself will not fix any criticisms and could lead to a loss of city and county involvement in air quality regulation, he wrote.

Keller also wrote the legislation is premature and potentially unnecessary. He criticized its attempt to prevent the Board from adopting certain proposed rules, which have not yet been decided on.

Attempts to remove four members of the Board, Keller wrote, is unfair as the members are qualified and have been approved by City Council.

In his message, Keller discussed guiding air quality principles that are in compliance with the Administration. These principles include adhering to jurisdiction defined in state as well as federal law, and holding meetings accessible to the public.

The veto will allow the Board to hear the Health, Environment and Equity Impacts rule, which previously would have been delayed by the legislation because of the moratorium.

The HEEI rule stops new air-polluting projects in communities heavily impacted by pollution, and makes polluting industries address their cumulative impacts when seeking an air pollution permit.

In April, representatives on behalf of industry have previously filed to disqualify the Board from hearing the HEEI rule.

Attorney Pete Domenci Jr. – who represents several industry groups – argued that certain members of the Board “had shown bias and pre-judgement on the proposed regulation, and thus parties couldn’t expect them to render a fair decision on the matter,” according to a New Mexico Environmental Law Center and Mountain View Coalition press release.

The Board denied all motions to disqualify certain members, according to the press release.

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The Albuquerque-Bernalillo Air Quality Control Board has a scheduled hearing for the HEEI rule Dec. 4 - 8. The Board can decide to vote on the rule during this time or can postpone the vote for a future Board meeting. When the Board chooses to vote, the Board can reject, accept with changes, or accept the rule at its current form.

The City Council’s vote to override the veto will occur at the same start date of the HEEI hearings on Monday, Dec. 4. The veto override would need six City Council votes, which would require a member who originally voted “no” on the legislation to vote “yes” on overriding the veto. This would then implement the legislation.

“Reactionary politics never serve our community well,” Keller wrote. “As the elected official for all of the city and most of the county, it’s my responsibility to make sure City and County governments work together.”

Nate Bernard is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyLobo

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