ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – “We want some diversity on the board, some professional diversity, we want this board to be more open, more transparent, this is about good government.” Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis is proposing legislation that would create a new Albuquerque Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board which would repeal the current board and replace it with a new board. “This change would just simply make the air quality board more consistent with some of our other very important boards and commissions in the city.”
Right now, the city and county appoint the seven air quality board members and the board has the authority to make decisions and rules affecting any business or activity that could pollute the metro’s air. But this ordinance would make it so city council can disapprove rule changes, ultimately giving city council veto power.
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However, the county commission won’t have that same authority and commissioners said they simply feel left out. “To just have this resolution introduced regarding a joint city-county air quality board with no consultation, no notice, yeah, it was pretty jarring,” County Commissioner Eric Olivas said.
Lewis said he’s open to changing that. “If they wanted to, I mean they could work together with us and make sure there’s veto power and there’s input from the county commission as well when it comes to this air quality board.”
The ordinance would also create requirements for who is on the board, including an Engineer, a Physician, an expert from a higher learning institution, and a member of the private manufacturing industry. “It’s come to our attention some of the problems, some of the challenges, you know that this board has faced and how the makeup of the board is contributed to that,” Lewis said.
But others believe the board is fine how it is and the legislation is disrespectful to the current members. “I think there are a number of experienced and qualified individuals serving on the board and that’s really kind of a bad way to treat them,” Olivas said.
The proposal has people speaking out against it at city and county meetings arguing the air quality control board is more qualified to make decisions about the metro’s air quality, than city council. “It’s dangerous in the perspective of democracy, it’s dangerous in the perspective of poor people’s health outcomes, it’s dangerous from the perspective of how can one man on a city council upend a state law,” Marla Painter, the President of Mountain View Community Action, said.
The legislation will be up for final action at next week’s city council meeting.