Gary Johnson Considering Run For U.S. Senate, EPA Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit Over CO Mine Spill

Jul 27, 2018

Gary Johnson Mulling Run For US Senate- Associated Press

Former Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is considering jumping into the race for U.S. Senate in New Mexico as the current Libertarian candidate prepares to drops out.

Johnson consultant Ron Nielson told The Associated Press on Friday that the former New Mexico governor is "strongly considering" running for U.S. Senate if Libertarian candidate Aubrey Dunn quits the race.

Aubrey's son, attorney Blair Dunn, told the AP that his father was dropping out of the race and would release more details on Monday.

Libertarian Party of New Mexico Chair Chris Luchini said it was his understanding that Dunn was quitting.

The 65-year-old Johnson would go against Democratic incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich and Republican Mick Rich in November.

Johnson garnered 3 percent of the vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Coal Plant Closure Threatens Jobs Near Four Corners- Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

At a tense meeting with lawmakers on Thursday, Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett said waiting for the generating station to close in the Four Corners region is "a ticking time bomb," because of the looming financial crisis the closure will spark. The plant provides needed jobs and revenue, he said.

The Daily Times of Farmington reports officials in northwestern New Mexico are grappling with the likely financial effects of a coal power plant closure near the Navajo Nation.

San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass said the closure will mean a loss of $2 million in property tax revenue to the college's budget, as well as $300,000 in training contracts and $116,000 in scholarships. The scholarships are provided by the companies that run the mine and generating station, he said.

EPA Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuit Over Colorado Mine Spill- Associated Press

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants a federal court to toss a lawsuit filed by Utah, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation seeking the repayment of cleanup costs for a mine spill in Colorado that polluted rivers in three states.

The EPA said in a motion Wednesday that the court doesn't need to intervene because crews are already working on the cleanup of water contaminated with heavy metals that was accidentally released from an EPA-monitored mine.

"Granting any relief in New Mexico, within the Navajo Nation, or in Utah would conflict and interfere with EPA's exclusive jurisdiction over its on-going response action activities and cleanup remedies," the federal government said in court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

Utah is seeking for $1.9 billion in damages from the EPA. The Navajo Nation filed a claim for $162 million and the state of New Mexico is seeking $130 million.

The 2015 Gold King accident in southern Colorado occurred at an inactive mine where polluted water had been accumulating for years before an agency crew accidentally released it during cleanup work.

Flooding Disrupts Commuter Rail Between Santa Fe, Bernalillo- Associated Press

Commuter rail service between Santa Fe and the northern outskirts of the Albuquerque area is suspended Friday due to flood damage from powerful thunderstorms yesterday night.

Rail Runner spokeswoman August Meyers says 1 mile of track north of Bernalillo was misaligned by runoff and that officials hope service between Bernalillo and Santa Fe can resume Saturday.

She says inspectors are checking a bridge, debris needs to be cleared and the track must be realigned.

Trains are running regular schedules between Bernalillo and the 100-mile system's southern terminus in Belen.

Storms Bring Flash Floods And Power Outages In Albuquerque – Albuquerque Journal, KRQE-TV

Strong thunderstorms dumped up to an inch-and-a-half of rain Thursday night in Albuquerque, bringing flooded streets, power outages and one house fire.

KRQE-TV reports the Rail Runner will suspend service Friday from Bernalillo to Santa Fe after floods washed out a mile of track between Santo Domingo and San Felipe Pueblo.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a lightning strike sparked a fire in the roof of a home in northeast Albuquerque and a nearby tree. Albuquerque Fire Rescue crews quickly contained the fire and rescued a dog. There were no injuries.

PNM responded to downed power lines and reported outages affecting about 4,000 homes. KRQE reports Albuquerque Fire Rescue and city officials closed the Central Avenue railroad underpass in downtown due to flooding.

A storm water retention pond at Lomas and Broadway boulevards was overwhelmed and that sent water across Lomas. Floodwaters surged through arroyos as well, but there were no reports of injuries.

Former Las Cruces Officer Gets Probation For ExtortionKDBC-TV, Associated Press

A former Las Cruces police officer who pleaded no contest to extorting a woman by offering to delete explicit photos in exchange for sex has been sentenced.

KDBC-TV in El Paso, Texas, reports William D. Gonzalez was sentenced Thursday to 3 1/2 years of probation after authorities say he sent more than 100 text messages to the woman and called her 30 times over a three-day period.

He pleaded no contest to extortion, voyeurism and harassment.

Police say the 31-year-old Gonzalez threatened to publicly reveal naked photos of the woman after she refused to respond to his messages. Authorities say Gonzalez obtained the photos without her permission.

Gonzalez also pleaded no contest to indecent exposure earlier last year.

Mexican Journalist Seeking Asylum Released From US DetentionAssociated Press

A Mexican journalist detained in a remote West Texas immigration facility while asking the U.S. government for asylum has been released from detention.

The attorney for Emilio Gutierrez Soto and his adult son, Oscar, said the two were released from the El Paso, Texas, facility without bond Thursday night.

Gutierrez fled to the United States a decade ago after articles he wrote alleging corruption in the Mexican military caused his name to land on a hit list. He has come within hours of deportation but is appealing the denial of his asylum request.

His lawyer, Eduardo Beckett, said Gutierrez has told him he is afraid of taking "one step into Mexico."

Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalism, in league with Syria and Iraq.

Maintenance Issue Blamed For Empty ScheduleAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's office says a maintenance issue is to blame for her online calendar going months without any public updates.

The schedule on her website was updated Thursday after the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that her staff had not published any new entries since March.

Martinez spokesman Ben Cloutier said while performing maintenance, the publicly-accessible portion of the calendar was accidentally disabled and not reflecting any regular updates that had been made.

With the issue resolved, he said the previously unavailable portions of the calendar are now visible on the website.

The Martinez administration initially began publishing weekly schedules in September 2013 following requests from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and news organizations.

In September, the Albuquerque Journal reported that the office had fallen behind in updating the calendar by about three months.

Xcel Dedicates Transmission Line Linking New Mexico, TexasAssociated Press

Xcel Energy has finished the first segment of a $400 million transmission project that will deliver power from a hub in West Texas to southeastern New Mexico's booming oil and gas region.

Officials gathered Thursday in New Mexico to dedicate an 86-mile transmission line that stretches from Hobbs to Carlsbad.

The company says the rapid growth of energy development in New Mexico happened in an area with few major transmission lines. As part of an initiative launched in 2011, Xcel planned for new lines to boost capacity and to broaden the electricity import and export market.

Xcel says it has seen more requests for new electricity supplies in southeastern New Mexico in recent years. On July 19, the system that serves portions of New Mexico and Texas handled a record demand of 6,151 megawatts when temperatures reached triple digits.

Virgin Galactic Rocket Plane Makes Third Powered Test FlightAssociated Press

Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket plane VSS Unity soared over the Mojave Desert on its third powered test flight.

The company says the craft ascended Thursday at more than twice the speed of sound and reached an altitude of 32.3 miles.

The spacecraft was taken aloft by the carrier aircraft VMS Eve and released at high altitude before the two test pilots ignited the rocket motor and pulled Unity into a near-vertical climb.

The craft then glided to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port.

The test flights are aimed at bringing the craft into commercial service at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

New Mexico Supreme Court Upholds Conviction In 2013 SlayingsAssociated Press

The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a man who fatally shot a father and daughter in 2013.

Jordan Hurd had appealed his conviction on first-degree murder and aggravated battery charges, saying crime scene photographs should not have been admitted as evidence during his trial. He also argued there was not enough evidence to convict him.

Justices rejected his arguments in a ruling Thursday.

Authorities say Hurd is serving life in prison for the shooting deaths of Wesley Hobbs and his daughter Amanda in Jarales.

Amanda Hobbs' mother, Patricia Hobbs, was wounded in the shooting that authorities say came as Hurd and two other men tried to sell a stolen motorcycle to Wesley Hobbs and obtain drugs at his family's home.

Man Injured In Bear Attack Expected To Recover Associated Press

Authorities say a man who was attacked by a black bear while walking his dogs in northeastern New Mexico is expected to recover after having surgery.

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish conservation officers say the attack happened Wednesday in a rural area southeast of Raton, a community near the New Mexico-Colorado border.

State police alerted conservation officers after receiving a call from the 36-year-old man, who was flown to an Albuquerque hospital for treatment.

He was not identified, but authorities on Thursday said doctors were hopeful for a quick recovery.

Game and Fish spokeswoman Tristanna Bickford said investigators believe it was happenstance that the man and bear crossed paths. She said the bear weighed between 300 and 400 pounds.

The man fatally shot the bear during the attack. The animal will be tested for rabies.