State Suing Over Federal Asylum Release Practices, State Will Seek Broad Input For New Methane Rules

Jun 10, 2019

New Mexico Plans Meetings For New Methane RulesAssociated Press

New Mexico environmental regulators say they will be reaching out to communities, environmental groups and industry to develop the state's first methane reduction regulations.

Environment Secretary James Kenney said Friday collaboration will be key in developing a regulatory framework to ensure methane reductions in the oil and gas sector.

Kenney said he and officials with the state energy and minerals department will be meeting with stakeholders to gather ideas and hear concerns. Three meetings are planned this summer in Albuquerque, Farmington and Carlsbad.

The effort stems from an executive order signed earlier this year by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that targets greenhouse gas emissions and encourages renewable energy development.

The oil and gas industry has said technological advancements are helping to curb methane emissions, even as production reaches record levels.

Most New Mexicans Are Real ID-Compliant As Deadline LoomsAssociated Press

New Mexico now has 1 million residents with driver's licenses or identification cards that comply with tougher federal ID requirements that will take effect in 2020.

Officials with the state Taxation and Revenue Department say people have just over a year to meet the deadline under the Real ID Act, which was passed in 2005 to strengthen rules for identification for airline flights and at federal facilities such as military bases.

With the one-millionth license issued last week, about 70 percent of New Mexico licenses and identification cards now carry the gold star that marks them as being Real ID-compliant.

New Mexico began issuing the credentials in November 2016 as part of a two-tier system that also allows for IDs that do not meet the tougher standards to be issued.

New Mexico Challenges Quick-Release Asylum PracticesAssociated Press

New Mexico and its largest city are suing the Trump administration to stem the quick release of asylum seeking migrants into local communities while demanding reimbursement for humanitarian efforts to shelter migrants.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced the lawsuit against acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and top federal immigration officials.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind by a state. It resembles a suit by San Diego County in April also challenging the cancellation of an immigration program that helped migrants with phone calls and other travel logistics as they sought out final destinations throughout the United States. Now asylum seeking migrants typically are released almost immediately.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Latino Civil Rights Group Faults UNM On Hispanic HiringAssociated Press

The New Mexico chapter of the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the U.S. is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate hiring practices at the University of New Mexico.

The New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens endorsed Saturday a resolution asking the state attorney general, state auditor and U.S. Justice Department to look into how the state's flagship university is hiring administrators.

New Mexico LULAC Executive Director Ralph Arellanes says University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes did not follow through on promises to include Latinos on search committees for key positions. He has also faulted the university for not hiring Hispanics from New Mexico.

University of New Mexico spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair says the school adheres to state and federal laws in its hiring practices.

New Mexico Seeks Public Input On Volkswagen Settlement FundsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico officials are giving the public a chance to weigh in on how to spend settlement money connected to the Volkswagen smog device emissions scandal.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the state Environment Department has opened the public comment period for a proposal on divvying up the funds.

The state was awarded $18 million in 2017 after the Volkswagen Group of America acknowledged rigging 11 million of its vehicles with software used to cheat on vehicle emissions tests.

Environmental regulators say some of the VW vehicles emitted up to 40 times the allowed levels of unhealthy nitrous oxides when on the road.

Under the current plan, the state is recommending the money go toward helping local governments buy alternative-fueled vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations.

New Mexico Airports To Get Nearly $14M In Federal FundsAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

New Mexico's airports will get millions of dollars in federal aid for maintenance and other projects.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded more than $13 million in funding to be used at 16 airports in the state.

New Mexico's congressional delegation including U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich made the announcement Friday.

The funds will help with critical improvements, construction and other repairs.

Officials say the largest projects in need are in Doña Ana County, Lea County and the Four Corners region.

Doña Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa will get nearly $5 million to rebuild part of an existing area.

Heinrich says the money will help modernize the state's smaller airports.

Man Fatally Shot In Albuquerque Brewery IdentifiedAssociated Press

Authorities have released the name of a man who died in a weekend shooting in an Albuquerque brewery.

Albuquerque police say 37-year-old Cody Guy Wrathall allegedly threatened his ex-girlfriend inside Nexus Brewery with a gun on Saturday evening.

According to investigators, some off-duty federal agents happened to be at the brewery and stepped in to stop the shooting. At least one agent fired back.

Wrathall was taken to a hospital with at least one gunshot wound. He was later pronounced dead.

The investigation remains ongoing.

Off-Duty Federal Agents Involved In Shooting In Albuquerque - Associated Press

Police in Albuquerque say they're investigating a fatal shooting after a man died at a brewery on the city's northeast side.

Officers got calls about a shooting at the Nexus Brewery near Interstate 25 about 9 p.m. Saturday.

Police say a woman inside the restaurant allegedly was being threatened by her ex, who was brandishing a gun.

They say some off-duty federal agents were at the brewery and stepped in to stop the shooting and at least one agent fired back.

The man who was shot was taken to a hospital, where he died. The Albuquerque Police Department identified him as Cody Guy Wrathall, 27.

Police and the federal agency are investigating the shooting.

Judge Dismisses 2 Counts Against Former State Tax Secretary - Associated Press

A New Mexico judge has dismissed two of three remaining criminal charges against former state Tax Secretary Demesia Padilla but prosecutors say those charges will be refiled in another court.

District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer on Friday ruled that prosecutors didn't provide evidence that alleged acts underlying an embezzlement charge and another count occurred in the judicial district that includes Santa Fe County.

Attorney general's spokesman David Carl later said prosecutors will refile the two dismissed charges in another district.

The ruling leaves Padilla on track to face trial in Santa Fe on a felony charge of engaging in an official act for personal financial gain.

Sommer previously dismissed five misdemeanor ethics counts against Padilla.

Sommer also Friday ruled that Padilla's lawyers could inspect recording devices used by investigators.

Trade Posts In Four Corners Fight To Stay Open Amid Changes - Farmington Daily Times, Associated Press

Once a staple in the Four Corners region that connected Navajo weavers and artists to buyers, trading posts are facing challenges to their survival.

The Farmington Daily Times reports trading posts are facing increased competition from online retailers and large regional grocery store chains and working to navigate changing demands.

The Shiprock Trading Post in Farmington now focuses exclusively on Navajo rugs, jewelry, pottery and other works of art. It used to provide all sorts of goods to Navajo customers.

Farmington Museum at Gateway Park director Bart Wilsey says trading posts that have survived into the 21st Century have become art galleries that deal almost exclusively in Native art or have become convenience stores.

Wilsey adds they also can become wholesalers for Navajo rugs and art in order to remain healthy.

Visitor Dies At White Sands National Monument In New Mexico - Associated Press

Authorities say a visitor has died on a hiking trail at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

They say rangers responded to a call around 4 p.m. Saturday that a person needed help on the Alkali Flat Trail.

Responding park law enforcement rangers discovered an unresponsive man less than one mile from the trailhead.

New Mexico State Police confirmed the death.

The name, age and hometown of the man still hadn't been released Sunday.

The National Park Service will be coordinating with state authorities to investigate the incident.

There is no shade or water along any of the trails in the park, where temperatures reached 99 degrees on Saturday.

Park officials say they recommend that visitors not start a hike when the temperature is at or above 85 degrees.

Albuquerque Eyes Route 66 Upgrades In 'Forgotten' Part - KRQE-TV, Associated Press

New Mexico's largest city is upgrading its portion of the historic Route 66 Highway.

KRQE-TV reports officials in Albuquerque want to see improvements to a barren stretch of Route 66 in an area that some complain is a forgotten part of the city.

City officials are eying a $2.3 million plan that would add medians, landscaping and lighting along the Mother Road west of downtown.

Albuquerque has the largest part of Route 66 in an urban area.

Earlier this year, Gallup announced a plan to upgrade its Route 66 streetlights to LED lights. Cities in Oklahoma also have embarked on Route 66 facelifts.

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.