New Mexico Sues Colorado Over Mine Spill, Gov. Martinez: Obama's Move On Immigration Is Reckless

Jun 23, 2016

New Mexico Sues Colorado Over Huge 2015 Mine Waste Spill By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico is suing the state of Colorado, saying its neighbor to the north should be held responsible for the contamination caused by the 2015 Gold King Mine spill as well as decades of acidic drainage from mines near the headwaters of the Animas River.

The New Mexico Attorney General's Office and the state Environment Department announced late Wednesday that they filed a complaint against Colorado with the U.S. Supreme Court.

It marks the second major legal salvo fired by New Mexico in the wake of the August 2015 spill, which fouled rivers in three states with a yellow soup of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals. New Mexico is also suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Colorado officials have previously declined to comment on New Mexico's claims, citing possible litigation.

Gov. Martinez: Obama Immigration Move 'Reckless'The Associated Press 

The nation's only Latina governor says President Barack Obama never had the authority to issue an executive order to protect immigrants living in the country illegally.

The office for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said the executive order, which the Supreme Court blocked on Thursday, was a reckless decision and underscored the lack of leadership in Washington.

Martinez spokesman Mike Lonergan says the president did nothing for years and then tried waving around a magic pen to give defacto citizenship to millions of immigrants living in the country illegally.

Martinez did not directly mention the Supreme Court ruling blocking Obama's immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

She has urged Congress to pass immigration reform.

Fire Damage Assessments To Begin In New MexicoThe Associated Press 

Damage assessments of a wildfire that's charred 28 square miles in central New Mexico are expected to start in the coming days.

Spokesman Karen Takai says assessors could begin their work in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque as early as Thursday or Friday morning.

One of the focuses will be an area near the community of Chilili, where 24 homes and numerous other structures were destroyed. Takai says the assessors need to make sure the area is cool enough to walk through.

Fire activity in recent days has lessened thanks to cloud cover, high humidity and some rain. Forecasters are predicting more rain Thursday afternoon and again Sunday.

The blaze is nearly 70 percent contained.

GOP Nominee For Bernalillo County DA Says He's Dropping OutThe Associated Press 

The Republican nominee for district attorney in New Mexico's largest county says he is dropping out of the race, just two weeks after the state's primary election.

Albuquerque attorney Simon Kubiak released a brief statement Thursday saying he was withdrawing from the Bernalillo County district attorney's race because he lacks the funding to face-off against Democrat Raul Torrez, a former federal prosecutor.

Kubiak ran unopposed in the GOP primary for DA, while Torrez bested fellow Democrat and police officer Ed Perea for his party's nomination.

Kubiak announced his bid for DA in January. His platform included a push for dropping prosecutions of "victimless crimes," including some recreational marijuana violations, and ramping up prosecutions against repeat offenders.

The Republican Party of Bernalillo County has not yet decided whether to field a replacement candidate for Kubiak.

WNMU To Continue Recruiting DACA Students Despite RulingThe Associated Press

A college in western New Mexico says it will continue to recruit immigrant students living in the country illegally despite Thursday's Supreme Court ruling.

Western New Mexico University spokesman Abe Villarreal says the school will remain "an open, accepting university" to all students who want to attend the college.

The school in Silver City has drawn national attention for openly recruiting immigrant students living in the country illegally known as DREAMers. The university touts on its website that such students are welcome to attend and has targeted students living in Arizona and Texas.

Villarreal says the ruling doesn't affect the school's efforts.

A tie vote by the Supreme Court is blocking President Barack Obama's immigration plan that sought to shield millions living in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

New Mexico Oil-Rights Sales Dip On Trust Lands Associated Press

Annual revenues from the sale of oil and natural gas leases on New Mexico trust land have dipped to their lowest level in at least five years.

State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn on Wednesday called the $36.7 million in annual sales a robust outcome during a difficult year for oil and gas development. U.S. crude oil prices fell below $30 a barrel in January from well over $100 in 2014.

The new sales figure represents a 3 percent decline from $38 million the previous fiscal year. Sales in 2012 rocketed to $102 million.

That money goes toward the state's land maintenance fund, where overall revenues have increased $8 million from last year.

The Land Office oversees 14,000 square miles of land to help fund schools, universities and hospitals.

Slumping Oil Economy Still Hurting Eastern New Mexico Hobbs News-Sun, Associated Press

The slumping oil economy in eastern New Mexico is continuing to affect the once booming region.

The Hobbs News-Sun reports that gross receipts tax revenues for the city of Hobbs fell in June to the lowest point since 2010. Meanwhile, Halliburton recently announced the company is drastically cutting its Hobbs operations with only a small office remaining.

Hobbs Finance Director Toby Spears says despite oil's resurgence to nearly $50 a barrel, oil companies seem unwilling to take risks with their money.

Halliburton spokeswoman Emily Mir says Hobbs employees in Hobbs won't be laid off but would move to other Halliburton facilities in different areas of New Mexico and West Texas.

Halliburton laid off more than 7,000 employees in January 2015, citing a drop in product sales.

Escaped Man Commits Suicide During SWAT StandoffAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A man who escaped from a prison transport bus near downtown Albuquerque later committed suicide after SWAT teams tracked him down to a home in Manzano northwest of Mountainair.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Larry Dohrn kicked out the window of an inmate transport bus as he was headed from the Metropolitan Detention Center on the city’s West Side to a court appearance Downtown. He used a shaved down handcuff key to unlock his leg shackles.

Dohrn allegedly then carjacked a van that was later found abandoned near 14th and Coal. Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said officials tracked him to the home in Manzano based on information from friends and family members.

A spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office said Dohrn died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Online records show he faced multiple felony counts stemming from a vehicle theft case in April.

He was scheduled to appear before a state district court judge for a brief routine hearing Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. Authorities say he escaped around 7:40 a.m.

US Giving $48 Million To Help Western Farms Handle Drought Associated Press

The Obama administration is announcing $48 million in grants to help farmers and ranchers in the West conserve water and energy amid drought and climate change.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled to discuss the plan Thursday in Colorado. The Agriculture Department says the effort will include 76 projects in at least 11 states.

The department says the program will include improving irrigation systems.

The grants will come from both the Agriculture and Interior departments.

Southwest Boosts Efforts To Keep Visitors Safe Amid HeatwaveAssociated Press

Last year, a French couple died while trying to make sure their 9-year-old son had enough water on a broiling summertime outing at a New Mexico national park.

This past weekend, two Germans visiting Arizona for a conference died after taking a hike in perilous, record-breaking heat.

The U.S. Southwest has seen its share of heat-related visitor deaths.

Amid another staggering heatwave, local governments and businesses in the region are increasing their efforts to alert tourists when summer rolls in and safe outdoor conditions roll out.

They're improving brochures and signs by providing information in different languages. And they're educating hotel employees on what to tell tourists with outdoor travel plans.

But it's not just those from out of town at risk. Law enforcement officials say most people who end up in trouble when the temperature soars are locals who ignore warnings.

Boy, 7, Fatally Shot During Camping Trip In Colorado Pueblo Chieftain, Associated Press

Authorities say a 7-year-old boy was shot to death while camping with his family in southern Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports the boy from Albuquerque, New Mexico was camping near Stunner Pass when he was shot early Monday. He was pronounced dead at the Conejos County Hospital.

Sheriff's investigators sought a search warrant to investigate the campsite, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is helping with the case.

The boy's name has not been released, and sheriff's officials did not return a call seeking comment.

Sandra Cisneros To Headline New Mexico Writers' Conference Associated Press

Novelist Sandra Cisneros is scheduled to headline a revamped New Mexico writers' conference.

The Summer Writers' Conference, which had been held in Taos for nearly two decades, has moved to Santa Fe and renamed, The University of New Mexico Summer Writers' Conference . The July 24 to 31 gathering at the Drury Plaza Hotel is expected to draw writers from around the country.

Each year, the conference invites agents, editors and publishing professionals to consult with conference participants. Daily round tables and faculty readings round out the conference experience.

USA Today named the event one of the top ten writers' conferences in the country.