February Unemployment Rate Remained 3.1 Percent, 3 Mexican Gray Wolves Found Dead

Mar 23, 2019

New Mexico's February Unemployment Rate Remained 3.1 Percent

New Mexico's unemployment rate held steady in February.

The Department of Workforce Solutions' monthly report released Friday said February's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, unchanged from January 2019 and February 2018.

The state's non-farm economy grew by 7,400 jobs, or a little under 1 percent, in the year since February 2018.

The private sector accounted for all of the increase, led by serving-providing industries' gain of 4,700 jobs while goods-producing industries added 3,500 jobs.

The leisure and hospitality sector had the biggest gain with 3,700 additional jobs.

Meanwhile, government lost 800 jobs.

3 Mexican Gray Wolves Found Dead In Arizona, New Mexico

Arizona wildlife officials say three endangered Mexican gray wolves, including two in New Mexico, died last month.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said in a news release Friday that the latest incidents means there have been four wolf deaths so far this year.

One from a pack in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest died after it was captured to replace a faulty GPS collar.

Another from a pack in the north-central area of the Gila National Forest was found dead.

The third wolf was a single collared one in New Mexico. Officials did not say in what part of the state it dwelled.

All the deaths are under investigation.

Efforts to reintroduce the endangered wolves in Arizona and New Mexico have been ongoing for two decades.

Coyote Carcasses Found As New Mexico Governor Weighs Ban

The Santa Fe New Mexican

Some animal activists and state officials are pushing for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to sign a bill outlawing coyote-killing contests.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Los Lunas resident Elisabeth Dicharry was informed of discarded coyote carcasses by a friend who came across them on Wednesday.

Dicharry says duct tape tags dated Jan. 12 were found on some of the animals' snouts, indicating they might have been targeted in a coyote-killing contest.

Dicharry says she found a third pile of coyote remains Thursday in the same area of eastern Valencia County.

The discovery of the carcasses comes as Lujan Grisham contemplates whether to sign Senate Bill 76, a bipartisan measure that would prohibit coyote-killing contests on both public and private lands in New Mexico.

New Mexico Governor Signs Landmark Clean Energy Bill

Making good on a campaign promise, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed landmark legislation that will mandate more solar panels and wind turbines as the state sets ambitious new renewable energy goals.

The Democratic governor, environmentalists and others gathered at the state capitol Friday for a signing ceremony.

The measure requires that investor-owned utilities generate at least 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That jumps to 80 percent by 2040.

A 100 percent carbon-free mandate would kick in five years later. Electric co-ops that provide power to more rural areas would have until 2050 to meet that goal.

Aside from the renewable energy quotas, funds will be established to help ease the economic pains of closing the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station near Farmington.

Last Grants Coming For Endangered Route 66 Program

The final grant season for an endangered federal program that's helped preserve the historic Route 66 Highway for two decades is ending next month.

The Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program is accepting grant applications until April 12 and it's not clear if Congress will continue the project.

At risk are millions of dollars in grants aimed at reviving old tourist spots in struggling towns.

The program has helped finance projects like the El Vado Motel neon sign restoration in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas Station restoration in Kansas. It's administered by the National Park Service.

Decommissioned as a U.S. highway in 1985, Route 66 went through eight states, connecting tourists with friendly diners and motor lodges in small towns.

Navajo Nation Company Ends Bid To Buy Power Plant, Mine

A Navajo Nation company has ended its bid to buy a coal-fired power plant on the reservation and the mine that feeds it.

The decision Friday means the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine will close this year, ending decades of operation in northeastern Arizona.

The bid by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company had been considered a long-shot since tribal leaders asked the company last year to consider the acquisition. Coal is falling out of favor across the country.

The company's negotiations with the power plant owners recently came to a halt over who ultimately would be responsible for cleanup.

Environmentalists have urged the Navajo Nation to ditch coal for renewable energy.

The power plant initially was built to move Colorado River water to Arizona's major metropolitan areas.

New Mexico Military Bases May Lose Projects To Border Wall

The U.S. Department of Defense issued a list of military construction project funds that may be diverted, under President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration, for construction of a border wall.

The list, released Monday, includes $187.5 million in funds for projects at military installations in New Mexico at White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base, Kirtland Air Force Base and Cannon Air Force Base.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Deb Haaland, both New Mexico Democrats, condemned the possible diversion of funds.

The defense department says if its budget requests for the 2020 fiscal year are enacted on time, "no military construction project used to source (border barrier) projects would be delayed or cancelled."

The release also says that project funds appearing on the list would not necessarily be used for the wall.

The Latest: Judge Hears Fight Over Trump Asylum Policy

A U.S. judge says civil rights groups seeking to block the Trump administration's policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico had cleared basic requirements to bring their case.

But Judge Richard Seeborg appeared skeptical at a hearing on Friday of one of their key arguments in favor of an order stopping the policy while a lawsuit challenging it moves forward.

The lawsuit says the policy violates U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico.

The administration says the policy is in response to a crisis at the southern border that has overwhelmed the ability of immigration officials to detain migrants.

Seeborg said the plaintiffs had authority to bring the case, and the court could hear it. But he questioned the argument that the policy violated a U.S. law that allows the return of immigrants to Mexico.