UPDATED 4:30pm: State environmental officials say a massive jet fuel spill threatening Albuquerque's water supply could be much larger than originally thought. Officials have previously estimated the decades-old spill from Kirtland Air Force base to be about 8 million gallons.
But state geologist William Moats, who made the original calculations, recently estimated the spill could be as large as 24 million gallons -- or twice the size of the spill from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker in Alaska in 1989.
A new scorecard for park systems in the nation’s largest 40 cities places Albuquerque near the top of the heap.
The rating system, developed by the Trust for Public Land, considers three factors: total park acreage, public access to those parks and spending on parks. Albuquerque missed the top ten by just one. But TPL’s Greg Hiner says that score places it within a stone’s throw of cities like New York, Seattle and Philadelphia.
A former Santa Fe attorney convicted in the drunken-driving death of a pedestrian has been granted parole. New Mexico Parole Board chair Sandy Dietz says Carlos Fierro was granted parole from prison Monday and is seeking to live in other state. Dietz, who was out of town and hadn't seen Fierro's application, says he could be released from prison in a few months.
The chief medical officer for the state Department of Health says she was asked to resign after giving a television interview in which she advocated condom use to slow the growth of sexually transmitted diseases among teens.
Identification cards for members of the Navajo Nation are now on sale. The tribe's Office of Vital Records and Identification had issued cards to 100 people last year during a test run of the program. Navajo President Ben Shelly says tribal members now can purchase them at the office in Window Rock. The cost is $17.
The tribe had pushed for the creation of an ID card for the last decade. The cards are designed to boost convenience, security and privacy for tribal members. Tribes increasingly are issuing such cards to members to offer easier identification of American Indians.
Jurors serving during the sentencing trial for Michael Astorga, who was convicted of killing Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy James McGrane, sent him to prison for life. Prosecutors were aiming for the death penalty.
District Attorney Kari Brandenberg told The Albuquerque Journal that at least one juror said fear played a part in the decision not to sentence Astorga to death.
Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari is offering students the chance to dig for dinosaurs. The school says it will offer three five-day classes in paleontology in June and July where students will search for and learn to excavate dinosaur-age vertabrea in the Quay County area.
By The Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican
Santa Fe Public Schools will be offering free lunch and breakfast at about a dozen schools during the summer. It's the tenth year for the meals program, but coordinator Betsy Torres says she expects at least 2,000 children this year. The program usually serves around 1,500.
Public Service Company of New Mexico says it has received four bids to install EPA-mandated pollution controls at its San Juan Generating Station...all of them just as costly as the company had predicted.
According to the Albuquerque Journal:
PNM says the lowest bid is more than double the federal agency’s estimate of $345 million to equip the coal-fired plant with selective catalytic reduction, or SCR, technology to cut pollutants that cause regional haze.
A week-long hearing on New Mexico’s pit rule has drawn to a close…for now.
The pit rule, adopted in 2008, governs the disposal of waste from oil and gas drilling, and has been called one of the strictest regulations in the country.
This week the Oil Conservation Commission heard testimony from experts and the public about the oil and gas industry’s push to revise the regulations. But with time running out and several people yet to testify, the OCC decided to continue the hearing June 20-22.
KUNM Radio Board member and attorney Sherry Tippett was found dead in her home in Albuquerque on Thursday. She was found by a friend who hadn't heard from her after she missed a meeting. Police say there were no signs of suspicious circumstances and no cause of death has yet been determined.
Senator Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Democrat, is pushing a national clean energy standard for utilities. He spoke at a hearing this week of the Senate Energy and Natural Resouces Committee, which he chairs.
Participants generally praised HSD’s plans to help Medicaid recipients get better care through better patient education and programs to coordinate care among several providers. State officials were not able to provide many of the implementation details audience members were seeking.
Smoke from wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona is expected to be noticeable across both states until at least this afternoon. The National Weather Service says windy and dry climate conditions will shift smoke from large wildfires burning in northern and central Arizona and southwest New Mexico. The winds will likely push smoke into central and northern New Mexico today and southward on Saturday.
A watchdog group says New Mexico lacks enough inspectors to adequately oversee the tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells across the state.
Earthworks' Oil and Gas Accountability Project released a new report Thursday that shows the number of inspections conducted by the Oil Conservation Division increased in 2011 but that more than half of producing wells went unchecked. The group questions whether the state can ensure responsible oil and gas development without adequate inspections and enforcement of existing rules.
On Sunday, Albuquerque residents and visitors will be treated to the rare sight of an annular solar eclipse. The eclipse starts at 6:28 PM and continues until the sun sets. KUNM’s Conservation Beat reporter Sidsel Overgaard spoke with Barry Spletzer with the Albuquerque Astronomical Society to learn more.
By The Associated Press and The Albuquerque Journal
A civil rights lawsuit says a former inmate of a New Mexico prison was repeatedly raped by a captain. The lawsuit also alleges prison authorities thwarted a federal investigation into the rapes.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Valencia County district court on behalf of the former inmate alleges that a now retired captain at the Central New Mexico Correction Facility in Los Lunas forced the inmate into various sexual acts and threatened him if he didn't participate.
A Colorado-based company is partnering with the Western Area Power Administration to explore the potential of developing a 93-mile transmission project in New Mexico. Lucky Corridor LLC says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Western Area Power Administration. The agency markets and delivers renewable power in a 15-state region.
The aim is to upgrade an existing transmission line, expand existing substations and add new ones. That would allow for the transmission of renewable energy generated near the New Mexico-Colorado border to other western markets.
The economy took a serious hit with the last recession. And while it will take time to recover, New Mexico is faring much better than the rest of the United States. That’s according to a recent Headwaters Economics report. The independent research group says New Mexico is creating jobs faster and has higher per capita income than the U.S as a whole. Headwaters Policy Director Chris Mehl says public lands have been a significant factor in New Mexico's economic recovery.
A Santa Fe jury has decided that a man convicted of killing a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy is guilty of aggravated circumstances in the murder. The guilty decision Tuesday means that the jury now has to hear testimony about whether Michael Astorga should get the death penalty for the crime. The hearing is slated to begin Wednesday in Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe Fire Department is imposing additional fire restrictions due to dry conditions. The department says the restrictions are aimed at preserving lives and property during what it calls "emergency conditions." Officials say a persistent drought has resulted in worsening fire danger. The restrictions will be in place until further notice.
Last year was one of the worst fire seasons in state history. But this spring has been somewhat wetter and less windy…and that should make for less dangerous conditions according to State Forester Tony Delfin.
He says at this point last year 300,000 acres had already burned on state and private land. This year the total is just 77,000 acres. Delfin credits, in part, a better informed public for the decrease in fires, but warns there’s another fire-starter to be aware of.
Developers of a $1.5 billion effort to link the United States' three major electricity grids have decided to locate their headquarters and an associated electricity trading floor in New Mexico.
The Tres Amigas Superstation hub will be built across 22 square miles in eastern New Mexico. Company officials had been considering locations in Texas and New Mexico for the project's headquarters and trading operations.
State officials from a variety of agencies gathered this morning to talk about New Mexico’s drought and its effect on recreation this summer. State Engineer Scott Verhines took a moment after the conference to talk about the bigger picture with KUNM’s Sidsel Overgaard .
By The Associated Press and The Santa Fe New Mexican
Governor Susana Martinez has asked a former Bush administration official to help plan a state-run health insurance plan for New Mexico. The New Mexico Human Services Department announced Thursday a contract with a consulting firm founded by Michael Leavitt, former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush.
New Mexico Gang Task Force official Tamera Marcantel says a meeting of community activists, social workers, tribal officials and police officers at Isleta Pueblo represents a gradual shift in the state's approach to combating gangs. Thursday's meeting, which was organized by the task force and a coalition of advocates, was designed to foster new ideas on gang prevention and ways to reform gang members.