ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A divided Albuqeruque City Council approved changes on who makes the rules about air quality in Bernalillo County. The controversial pair of proposals drew dozens of speakers to Wednesday night’s city council meeting both for and against the measures that were introduced by councilor Dan Lewis.
One measure revamps the makeup of the Metro’s air quality control board. It specifies the board must include an engineer, a physician, a college or university expert, and a manufacturing industry professional. The second establishes a moratorium preventing the current board from enacting a rule change that business leaders said would hamper development. Environmental advocates argued Lewis’s changes would put business interests before community health.
Some councilors raised concerns about that the county was being left out of the conversation since it also appoints members to the board. “This is a wholesale change of how we do this type of regulation, we shouldn’t be doing this two weeks before the hearing y’all are worried about,” said Councilor Pat Davis.
Councilor Dan Lewis said, “After tonight if the mayor were to veto this, he’d have to do it knowing that he’s putting in extreme danger this potential for a lot of new jobs coming into this city.”
After a debate stretching late into the evening, councilors approved both measures by a 5-4 vote. One controversial piece of Lewis’s original proposal was removed from the final version. It would have given city council veto power over any decision by the air quality board.