Attorney General Critical Of Rolling Back Methane Rules, Special Election To Cost APS $1 Million

Sep 11, 2018

Attorney General Critical Of Rolling Back Methane Rules- Associated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is criticizing the Trump administration's move to roll back rules intended to reduce methane leaks from oil and gas operations.

Balderas, a Democrat, issued a statement Tuesday after the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposed substitute for the Obama-era methane regulations.

Balderas has been a vocal critic. He and the attorney general of California sued the Trump administration last summer for delaying rules to reduce methane leaks on federal lands.

He contends the proposal would have environmental effects and waste the state's natural resources if companies aren't required to capture more of the gas.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association says the proposed rules will allow for development and more job creation while still mandating annual inspections and requiring leaks to be fixed.

New Hunting Options Create Buzz At New Mexico Refuge- Associated Press

The phones are ringing at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico now that the U.S. government has expanded hunting at the refuge and 30 other federally managed spots around the nation.

Visitor services manager Jeannine Kimble says Sevilleta has fielded dozens of calls in recent days as hunters are inquiring about the new opportunities.

The refuge has opened up a 590-acre parcel along the Rio Puerco where white-winged and mourning doves can be hunted along with Eurasian-collared doves and Gambel's quail.

Doves, ducks and certain species of geese can be hunted in two parcels near the Rio Grande.

Refuge managers say hunters still need to follow all federal and state regulations. There also are some restrictions on the days and times that hunting will be allowed near the Rio Grande.

Government To Expand, Extend Texas Tent Shelter For Children- Associated Press

The U.S. government will expand its tent shelter for immigrant minors crossing the southwest border to 3,600 beds and keep it open through the end of this year, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

The facility at Tornillo, Texas, which originally opened with a 360-bed capacity for 30 days, is being expanded based on how many children are in the care of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, agency spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said in a statement.

Wolfe said the announced expansion was not due to the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy, which led to the separations of more than 2,500 children from their parents. Three months after enforcement of the policy officially ended, more than 400 children remain in government care, away from their parents, many of whom were deported.

Special Election To Cost Albuquerque Schools $1 Million- Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Changes in election law made earlier this year are leading to a projected $1 million dollars in administrative costs for Albuquerque Public Schools in holding an upcoming bond election.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the Local Election Act requires the district to hold a special election by mail.

The law, which went into effect July 1, aims to save taxpayer money and combat voter fatigue by consolidating elections in November so voters are called to the polls just once a year.

The law requires school elections to take place in November on odd numbered years together with other non-partisan elections.

Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution earlier this month that asks the state to reevaluate the Local Election Act and rescind the parts of the bill that affect school district elections.

Intel To Develop Memory Tech At New Mexico PlantAssociated Press

Intel Corp. is moving development of a new generation of storage and memory technology to its manufacturing plant in New Mexico.

Gov. Susana Martinez made the announcement Monday, saying the work will result in more than 100 jobs at the Intel plant in Rio Rancho.

Intel and Micron Technology in 2015 announced the development of 3D XPoint, a new class of storage and memory technology billed as faster and non-volatile. The two companies decided to dissolve their partnership this year, meaning Intel will be working independently on its plans for the technology.

Plant manager Katie Prouty says Intel has a broad portfolio of products that are based on the technology.

Since establishing operations in New Mexico in 1980, Intel says it has invested more than $15 billion to develop its high-tech manufacturing capacity in the state.

New Mexico Plans Checkpoints During Hunting SeasonAssociated Press

Conservation officers with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will be conducting roadblocks throughout the state during the fall hunting season to collect harvest data and to look for violations.

The department said Monday that officers will also be checking for compliance with state off-highway motor vehicle laws and to make sure people hauling firewood have wood-cutting permits.

As a result of the checkpoints, the public may encounter minor delays.

Authorities are also asking people to report any possible violations to department area offices in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Raton, Roswell or Las Cruces or call the Operation Game Thief hotline.

Eastern New Mexico University Records Steady EnrollmentAssociated Press

Officials at Eastern New Mexico University say the school has recorded the second highest enrollment in its 84-year history with fall enrollment coming in just slightly behind last year's numbers.

Total enrollment topped 6,015, compared to 6,027 for the same semester last year. Graduate enrollment dropped by 119 students to 1,309 this fall and undergraduate student numbers rose to a record 4,706.

Since 2000, enrollment has grown by nearly 70 percent.

Officials say retention of first-time, full-time freshmen from the previous year was 62.4 percent, down less than a percentage point from last year.

University President Jeff Elwell said he was encouraged by the numbers. In the face of declining enrollment statewide, he tied Eastern New Mexico's success to its faculty and staff and its family-like atmosphere.

UNM Appoints New Chief Legal CounselAssociated Press

The University of New Mexico president has filled the school's position of chief legal counsel.

Loretta Martinez has been appointed to fill the position starting Oct. 1. She'll start at UNM after serving as general counsel and vice chancellor for legal affairs at City University of New York. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she also has served as legal counsel at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

Her annual salary at UNM is $265,000.

Her appointment was announced Monday by UNM President Garnett Stokes.

She said in a statement Monday that working at UNM has long been on her "radar."

Navajo Activists Protest Company Eyeing Coal-Fired PlantAssociated Press

About a dozen Navajos traveled to New York City to protest a company eyeing a coal-fired power plant on their reservation.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page is set to close next year unless a new buyer is found. The current owners say energy produced by natural gas is cheaper.

New York-based Avenue Capital Group has said it's interested in purchasing the plant and is talking with tribal officials. It's also been pushing an Arizona entity to commit to buying coal-fired power.

The protesters held signs outside the company's office in Manhattan on Monday. They say Avenue Capital is standing in the way of a move toward renewable energy on the reservation.

The company declined comment Monday, saying it hasn't reached a decision on the power plant.

New Mexico Candidates Report On Fundraising EffortsAssociated Press

The Democratic candidate for governor of New Mexico says she has raised an additional $1.9 million in campaign funds since July 1.

Congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday said her campaign has about $1.3 million in cash on hand amid a spree of spending on television advertising ahead of the November general election.

Lujan Grisham is competing against GOP Congressman Steve Pearce to replace Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who cannot run for a consecutive third term in office.

Pearce’s campaign has has taken in $750,000 since July 1 in new contributions and transfers from a congressional campaign account. The campaign announced Monday that it had stockpiled $1.9 million in cash as of Sept. 3.

The Pearce campaign received $617,000 in direct contributions over the past two months. About $133,000 was transferred from Pearce's congressional campaign account to his campaign for governor.

The oil and natural gas industry figured prominently among Pearce supporters, with at least 20 contributions linked to companies or individuals affiliated with extractive industries.

Cannabis Sector Funds Democratic Bid For GovernorAssociated Press

Democratic New Mexico gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham is collecting campaign cash from cannabis companies in the countdown to the November general election.

Campaign finance filings released Monday night show several contributions from the state's burgeoning medical cannabis sector to the congresswoman and candidate for governor since July 1, totaling more than $20,000.

Contributors include the Verdes Foundation nonprofit dispensary, Reynold Greenleaf & Associates cannabis industry consultants and medical cannabis home deliverer MJ Express-O.

Lujan Grisham was in charge of the New Mexico Health Department when the state's medical marijuana program began and has expressed support for approving recreational marijuana with adequate health and safety requirements.

Her opponent, GOP Congressman Steve Pearce, has expressed reservations about recreational marijuana as New Mexico wrestles with poverty and addiction to other drugs.

Proposal Seeks To Boost Gas Well Density In New Mexico BasinAssociated Press

A Houston-based oil company is asking New Mexico regulators to change the rules to allow for more wells to be drilled in two northwestern counties, saying natural gas reserves have more to give if they can be accessed.

The request comes as an oil and gas boom has helped to refuel state coffers, with a recent record-breaking lease sale promising nearly a half-billion dollars more. But environmentalists and land owners are concerned about doubling well densities in part of the San Juan Basin.

The request by Hilcorp Energy Co. will be considered by the Oil Conservation Commission during a meeting Thursday.

Critics want regulators to put off a decision pending a thorough environmental review, saying more public scrutiny is needed.

An attorney for Hilcorp did not return a message seeking comment on the proposal.

Baby Delivered After New Mexico Bus-Truck Crash DiesAssociated Press

One of two babies delivered prematurely after a deadly collision between a semitruck and commercial bus in New Mexico last month has died.

University of New Mexico Hospital spokesman Luke Frank confirmed Monday the death of a pediatric patient but would not give any more details.

An update posted on a GoFundMe page for the family of Christy Westerdale, who gave birth because of injuries suffered in the crash to a boy and a girl, announced the girl's death.

The family says Jordyn Rose died Thursday.

The boy remains hospitalized.

Westerdale, who was seven months pregnant, and her boyfriend were on the bus Aug. 30, heading to California. Her 4-year-old daughter was also on board.

The newborn's death brings the number of victims killed in the crash to nine.

UNM Rejects Request For 'Proper Burial' Of Fetal TissueAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

A University of New Mexico official declined an anti-abortion group's request for a "proper burial" for fetal tissue samples stored at the school for research.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Tara and Bud Shaver, of Abortion Free New Mexico, asked Dr. Paul Roth, chancellor of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, to transfer 72 "aborted baby remains" to an Albuquerque mortuary "so that they may receive a proper burial."

Roth told the Shaver group that he couldn't agree to turn over the "tissue," which was anonymously donated by women who sought abortion care at an "outside facility."

After a faculty researcher ran afoul of internal protocol governing the use of fetal tissue, Roth permanently halted her fetal tissue research, leaving donated tissue samples in limbo.

Roth says he still hasn't decided what to do with the tissue.