Senate Panel Takes Up Nuclear Waste Issue, Group Wants Grizzly Bears In More US States

Jun 27, 2019

US Senators Look To End Nuclear Waste StalemateAssociated Press

The chairwoman of a powerful U.S. Senate committee says the federal government's failure to find a permanent solution to the nation's growing stockpile of spent fuel from nuclear power plants is costing taxpayers more than $2 million a day.

Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska led a hearing in which experts testified Thursday on legislation aimed at ending the decades-old stalemate over what to do with the waste.

While the legislation is similar to past proposals, Murkowski says it's meant to get the conversation going again.

Industry officials say the path forward needs to include both interim storage options and plans for permanent disposal.

Environmentalists say a process is needed for ensuring consent from communities where the waste would be taken and that would have to be intertwined with shared regulatory responsibility among the federal government and states.

US Senate Panel Takes Up Thorny Issue Of Nuclear Waste - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

A congressional panel is scheduled to hear from experts as it weighs legislation aimed at tackling the decades-old problem of how to handle spent nuclear fuel and other high-level waste that has been piling up around the United States.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday will be discussing temporary and permanent options for dealing with the waste.

Scientists, environmentalists and officials with the Nuclear Energy Institute are expected to testify.

Development of a proposed long-term storage site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain was halted during the Obama administration, although the Trump administration has moved to restart the licensing process despite stiff resistance in Nevada.

Private companies also have applied for licenses to open temporary storage facilities in New Mexico and West Texas. Those proposals also face political opposition.

Private Company Plans To End Contract For New Mexico Prison - By Mary Hudetz Associated Press

A private prison company says it will no longer manage a corrections facility in a remote corner of New Mexico starting in the fall, citing troubles recruiting and retaining workers in the area.

A GEO Group spokesman said Thursday that the decision comes after the company managed the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility for 10 years.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says her administration is negotiating to take over management of the facility in Clayton, a town of about 3,000 people where Census Data from the 2017 American Community Survey show the annual per capita income is about $21,000.

The governor's office says the state will host a hiring event for prison employees in Clayton on July 17 and July 18.

Doctors, Lawyers Portray Dire Conditions For Child Migrants - By Cedar Attanasio and Amy Taxin Associated Press

Immigrant advocates have asked a federal judge to issue an emergency order requiring immediate inspections and access for doctors at border detention facilities where they say children are languishing in filthy conditions.

The federal court filing Wednesday follows last week's discovery of children in a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas who were locked up for weeks and tasked with caring for toddlers.

Lawyers say sleep-deprived, flu-stricken immigrant children are being crammed into frigid facilities that threaten to sicken more children. One doctor compared the locations to torture centers.

The attorneys are also asking for the prompt release of children to parents and close relatives.

The filing comes in a decades-old federal court case over detention conditions for immigrant children.

A message was sent to the Department of Homeland Security.

Migrants Face Violence As US Makes Them Wait In MexicoAssociated Press

Migrants who are being forced to wait in Mexico while they try to win asylum in the U.S. complain they are being subjected to violence in the country's dangerous border cities.

One Cuban migrant, 22-year-old Roberto Escalona Moreno, says he witnessed a double murder on the street in Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas.

Juarez had four times as many homicides last year as New York, though it has only one-sixth the population. Other cities along the border are likewise drug- and gang-infested.

All told, more than 30,000 migrants who are pressing for asylum in the U.S. are believed to be waiting it out on the Mexican side.

Group Wants Grizzly Bears Restored To More US StatesAssociated Press

Wildlife advocates are seeking a court order that would force U.S. officials to consider if grizzly bears should be restored to more Western states following the animals' resurgence in the Northern Rockies.

Grizzly bears are protected as a threatened species outside Alaska. An estimated 1,900 bears live in portions of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington state.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Montana, the Center for Biological Diversity said grizzlies should also be considered for areas of California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Oregon.

The request comes after environmentalists successfully sued last year to block grizzly hunts planned in Wyoming and Idaho.

Federal officials have appealed the ruling. They want to lift protections for about 700 bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Navajo Cancer Center Will Cut Tribal Members' Travel Time- By Felicia Fonseca Associated Press

The Navajo Nation has opened a cancer treatment center on the reservation that it says will significantly cut down on travel time for patients.

The Tuba City Regional Health Care Corp. in northeastern Arizona recently welcomed its first patient. It is funding the new center with hospital profits, grants and donations.

Cancer treatment is considered specialty care under the federal Indian Health Service, which partially funds the hospital. Patients previously had to get a referral to be seen elsewhere, often an hour or more from home.

Hospital chief executive Lynette Bonar says the treatment center is the first of its kind on any Native American reservation, though some facilities offer screenings and other services.

It will serve Navajos, Hopis and San Juan Southern Paiutes in its service area.

Deadly Case Of Hantavirus Reported In New Mexico - Associated Press

New Mexico health officials are confirming the first fatal case of hantavirus this year.

The state health department says the victim was a 42-year-old woman from McKinley County. The agency conducted an environmental investigation at the woman's home but didn't release any details about how she contracted the virus.

The respiratory disease is fatal in about 40 percent of cases. It can be transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva that contain the microscopic virus.

Early symptoms include fever and muscle aches, possibly with chills, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and a cough that progresses to respiratory distress.

This is the second case reported in New Mexico this year. The other patient, also from McKinley County, survived.

New Mexico reported five cases in 2017 and none in 2018.

Man Wants Life Prison Term Reversed In Navajo Girl's Murder - KRQE-TV, Associated Press

A man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl in New Mexico in 2016 now wants his life prison sentence reversed.

Tom Begaye was sentenced in 2017 after pleading guilty to murder and aggravated sexual abuse in Ashlynne Mike's death near Shiprock on the Navajo Nation.

Albuquerque TV station KRQE reports Begaye says in a 10-page handwritten motion that his rights were violated when authorities questioned him.

Begaye says he's developmentally disabled, didn't understand his legal rights and didn't get competent counsel from his attorney.

Begaye says he was drunk the day of the killing and because of that, the killing wasn't premeditated and he shouldn't have been charged with first-degree murder.

He's seeking an evidentiary court hearing and a lesser charge in the case.

Albuquerque Man Pleads Guilty In Guardians Embezzlement Case - Associated Press

Prosecutors say an Albuquerque man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud vulnerable and special needs clients in New Mexico and is facing a seven-year prison term.

They say 58-year-old William Harris pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiring to defraud the federal government out of money and property from November 2016 to July 2017.

Harris was accused of siphoning government benefits intended for Ayudando Guardians clients who couldn't manage their own finances, including those under court-ordered legal guardianships.

The now-defunct Ayudando Guardians was an Albuquerque-based non-profit corporation that provided guardianship, conservatorship and financial management to hundreds of people with special needs.

Harris' 72-year-old wife was the former president of Ayudando Guardians. Susan Harris goes on trial in September for money laundering and other charges.

Mescalero Apache To Offer Sports Betting At Casino - Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Another New Mexico tribe is preparing to offer sports betting at its casino.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Mescalero Apache Tribe announced this week it is partnering with William Hill to offer a book at Inn of the Mountain Gods that will open before football season.

William Hill's partnership with the Mescalero Apache Tribe is the first tribal agreement for William Hill outside of Nevada.

Inn of the Mountain Gods becomes the fourth tribal casino to offer sports betting in New Mexico.

Santa Ana Star, on Santa Ana Pueblo, was the first to have its sports book open, in October. The sports book at Pueblo of Pojoaque's Buffalo Thunder opened in March. Isleta's sports book is set to open on August 12.