Republican Lawmakers Walk Out Of New Mexico Energy Hearing

Albuquerque – The debate over whether New Mexico environmental regulations have stifled the oil and natural gas industry reached a boiling point Monday when Republican lawmakers walked out of a legislative meeting.

Rep. Don Bratton of Hobbs says he began to raise questions about the qualifications of a witness during the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee meeting and was silenced by Democratic chairman Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe for being out of order.

Bratton says the committee needs to hear testimony from experts, not propaganda.

Egolf disputes claims that he was being unfair during the meeting. Monday marked the committee's first meeting, and Egolf says his intent was to educate members on some of the regulatory issues.

Both lawmakers agreed that environmental regulation will continue to be a contentious issue.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.