Navajo Nation Sues Feds Over Mine Spill, New Mexico & Utah Both Want Facebook Data Center

Aug 16, 2016

Navajo Nation Sues Feds Over Massive 2015 Mine Waste Spill – The Associated Press 

One of the nation's largest American Indian tribes is suing the federal government over a massive mine waste spill that tainted rivers in three Western states.

The Navajo Nation on Tuesday joined New Mexico in pursuing legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the wake of the August 2015 spill in southwestern Colorado.

Tribal officials pointed to delays and resistance, saying the EPA has failed to compensate Navajos for their losses or provide any meaningful recovery efforts.

A federal contractor triggered the spill during preliminary cleanup work at a mine. Three million gallons of wastewater carrying arsenic, lead and other heavy metals contaminated rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The EPA has said it takes responsibility for cleaning up the spill but wouldn't comment on the lawsuit.

Utah Works To Lure Facebook’s Data Center Away From New MexicoThe Associated Press

A plan to lure a Facebook data center to Utah with $240 million in tax breaks is hitting a snag with a Salt Lake County decision to vote against it at a crucial meeting next week.

The unanimous council vote Tuesday places the county in opposition to project supporters in West Jordan, the Salt Lake City suburb vying against a New Mexico town to attract the facility that could go into service next year.

Critics say the cost is too high for a heavy water use facility that would create relatively few jobs. But supporters argue it would still generate significant tax revenue and carry the Facebook cache.

The project was largely developed in secret until an application to power regulators became public last month.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Grants Prison Accused Of Putting 2 Inmates In Cells For 1The Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

State prison officials have been packing two inmates in cells built for one person at Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Grants, violating population controls.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports (http://bit.ly/2aY0ssj ) that a recent federal court settlement shows that the facility was "double-celling" prisoners, which violates terms of the Duran Decree, which was put in place after the bloody Santa Fe penitentiary riot in 1980.

Severe crowding was cited as a major contributor to the Santa Fe riot, in which 33 inmates died.

As part of Friday's settlement agreement, the Department of Corrections will stop the practice and remove any second bunks that were bolted onto walls of single-prisoner cells any time after 1991.

Deputy Secretary of Administrative Support Alex Sanchez says the double-celling was a temporary measure due to an air-conditioning issue.

Pence Holds Campaign Event In Albuquerque, Roswell Tonight – The Associated Press

Donald Trump's running mate Mike Pence made a campaign stop today in Albuquerque.

The Republican vice presidential candidate spoke at the Sandia Resort & Casino.  He heads to Roswell tonight for another campaign event.  He’s expected to appear at the New Mexico Military Institute at 8.

The visit will be the first from the GOP ticket since May, when a Trump rally in Albuquerque turned violent.  The Pence event today was held away from where protests are usually held.

Gov. Susana Martinez was not attend either event.  She is in a Republican Governor Association meeting in Colorado this week.

Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine have not held any public rallies in the state yet.

Suspect In New Mexico Officer's Death Faces Federal Charges The Associated Press

The Ohio fugitive accused of fatally shooting a New Mexico police officer has been charged with federal carjacking and firearms crimes.

The charges Tuesday come after a complaint in state court charged 38-year-old Jesse James with first-degree murder in the death of Officer Jose Chavez.

Chavez was shot Friday in Hatch, north of Las Cruces. He died at an El Paso, Texas, hospital.

Authorities say Hanes, who was hospitalized for a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was arrested Tuesday on federal charges that include being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Hanes, of Columbus, went to prison in Ohio in 2014 after pleading guilty to robbery, and was released in 2015.

He, along with another man who authorities say was in a vehicle with Hanes when Chavez was shot, are wanted in the July death of a man outside Chillicothe.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Marijuana At Border CheckpointsThe Associated Press - The Deming Headlight

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit asking the court to stop U.S. Border Patrol from seizing medical marijuana at highway checkpoints near the southern border.

The Deming Headlight reports that Raymundo Marrufo of Deming filed the lawsuit in fall 2015. Marrufo said says there are no dispensaries in Deming and he must go to Las Cruces to fill his prescription forcing him to pass through a checkpoint with a drug-sniffing dog on the way home.

District Judge William P. Johnson granted the Border Patrol's request for a dismissal in April. He said Marrufo's argument for the injunction didn't have legal grounds but left room for the case to be re-filed in another form.

Vivian Moore, the executive director of a non-profit dispensary, says the ruling is "unfair" because it leaves the status quo unchanged.

Elevator Service Restored At Carlsbad Caverns National Park – The Associated Press

Officials at Carlsbad Caverns National Park say the elevators at the southern New Mexico tourist attraction are back in service.

An elevator car stalled in the hoist way at the park last week, resulting in the elevators being taken out of service for repairs.

Park mechanics worked over the telephone with service technicians from an elevator company to pinpoint the cause of the problem and were able to replace a defective component.

Park officials say the elevators were tested for more than a day before they were returned to service Monday.

The elevators had previously been down for months while crews installed new steel reinforcing beams and wall anchors in a hoist way. Structural engineers signed off on that work and service resumed in May before the recent temporary shutdown.

New Mexico Film 'The Lost Pueblo' To Be Screened In New York – The Associated Press

"The Lost Pueblo," a New Mexico film about the legacy of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, is set to be screened at a Christian film festival in New York.

The movie is scheduled to be shown Saturday as part of the 2016 Great Lakes Christian Film Festival in Buffalo.

The film, set in modern times, recounts the story of one of the pueblos that revolted when the Spanish settlers came to New Mexico. It was inspired by book "Saints of the Pueblos" by Charlie Carillo.

Tomas Sanchez directed the film which was produced last year in New Mexico with 95 percent of the cast and crew from the state.

Navajo President Calls Mine Spill Unprecedented Disaster – The Associated Press

One of the nation's largest American Indian tribes is the latest entity to pursue legal action against the federal government over a massive mine waste spill that tainted rivers in three Western states.

Navajo Nation officials say they have directed their attorneys to file a lawsuit over what they call an "unprecedented environmental disaster."

Navajo President Russell Begaye, Navajo Attorney General Ethel Branch and other tribal officials planned to discuss details of the legal action during a news conference Tuesday in Shiprock, New Mexico.

A federal contractor triggered the spill in August 2015 during preliminary cleanup work. Three million gallons of wastewater carrying arsenic, lead and other heavy metals tainted rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said it takes responsibility for the spill.

State Seeks Details On Electric Utility's Proposed Rate Hike – The Associated Press

State regulators have ordered an electric utility to outline potential consequences of a recommended rate increase that its company officials have called unreasonable.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission issued the order for Public Service Company of New Mexico last week. The utility has until Tuesday to file a response.