States Reach Agreement On Colorado River Plan, Energy Secretary Visits Sandia National Labs

Oct 9, 2018

US States Agree On Plan To Manage Overtaxed Colorado RiverAssociated Press

Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River, including New Mexico, say they have reached tentative agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought.

The plans announced Tuesday were a milestone for the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico.

The plans aren't designed to prevent a shortage in the river, which water managers say could occur as soon as 2020. Instead, they're intended to manage and minimize the problems.

Officials say it will likely be next year before the states and the U.S. government approve the plans. Mexico agreed last year to participate in drought planning.

The river is governed by interstate compacts, international treaties and court rulings rather than by a single agency.

Gov. Martinez Looks To Kavanaugh To Uphold US ConstitutionAssociated Press

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she's pleased Brett Kavanaugh is now a member of the U.S. Supreme Court and will be looking forward to him being a constitutionalist.

The two-term Republican governor told reporters Monday she believes Kavanaugh will be fair and will uphold the Constitution as he and his colleagues hear arguments.

A former district attorney, Martinez said the role of a justice is to rule based on the Constitution and how it's written rather than legislate from the bench.

Tuesday marked Kavanaugh's first day on the Supreme Court bench after being confirmed 50-48 Saturday following a bitter Senate battle. He took his oaths of office in a private ceremony Saturday evening and on Monday evening participated in a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House.

US Energy Secretary Visits Sandia National Laboratories - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the nation needs to have a robust and modern weapons program if it wants to continue guarding against threats and providing a deterrent to nuclear conflict.

Perry spoke to an auditorium packed with scientists and other workers at Sandia National Laboratories during a visit to Albuquerque. He told them their contributions — whether related to weapons or discoveries in astrophysics — have the potential to change the world.

Tuesday's visit to Sandia marked the first for the secretary.

Perry says Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico will continue to play significant roles in the nation's weapons program.

The Energy Department has been pushing to ramp up production of key components for the nuclear arsenal. Some of that work will happen in New Mexico.

Authorities Say Suspect's DNA Found On Girl Who Was KilledAssociated Press

Court documents say a 21-year-old man's DNA was found on the body of a 6-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted and killed in New Mexico in August.

In a criminal complaint Tuesday, authorities say a DNA swab voluntarily submitted by Leland Hust, of Rio Rancho, was matched to evidence found on the young victim's body.

Hust was arrested Friday in Ariana Romeo's death. Her body was found in August in a house in Rio Rancho.

Police say Hust also lived at the home in the city northwest of Albuquerque.

He is being charged with child abuse resulting in death, or in the alternative, aggravated criminal sexual penetration of a child.

Authorities say a state medical investigator determined the girl had injuries consistent with sexual assault and strangulation.

His attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

This story has been modified to describe Rio Rancho as a city, not a suburb of Albuquerque.

GOP Candidate Pearce Rents Equipment To Oil Companies - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Republican gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce owns two companies that actively lease oilfield equipment to undisclosed customers even as he campaigns to regulate a booming petroleum sector and expand an oil-dependent economy.

A spokesman for Pearce's campaign confirmed this week that the congressman's businesses, Trinity Industries and LFT, provide oilfield equipment rentals after The Associated Press found corporate registration documents that describe the activities.

Pearce reported income in 2017 of between $200,000 and $2 million from Trinity Industries and LFT. Campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan acknowledged that both companies engage in oilfield equipment rentals, but also include other holdings — some related to building rentals.

While campaigning, Pearce frequently invokes his past business success and expertise running an oilfield services business.

One Of Oldest US Coal Companies Files For BankruptcyAssociated Press

One of the oldest coal companies in the U.S. has filed for bankruptcy to deal with steep debt amid declining world demand.

Englewood, Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston.

Company officials say in a statement the filing is part of a restructuring agreement with an unnamed group of lenders.

Company officials say operations won't be interrupted and there are no expected staff reductions.

Court filings show the company has $770 million in assets and $1.4 billion in debt.

Westmoreland was incorporated in 1854 in Pennsylvania. It has coal mines in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas, and a coal-fired power plant in North Carolina.

Its mines in Canada are not part of the bankruptcy filing.

Netflix Chooses New Mexico For New US Production Hub - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Netflix has chosen New Mexico as the site of a new U.S. production hub and is negotiating to buy an existing multimillion-dollar studio complex in the state's largest city.

It is the company's first purchase of such a property, and local officials said Monday that upcoming production work by Netflix in Albuquerque and other New Mexico communities is expected to result in $1 billion in spending over the next decade.

More than $14 million in public economic development funding is being tapped. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat, both touted the investment and said years of work to put New Mexico on the movie-making map are paying off.

Previous Netflix series produced in New Mexico include the Emmy-winning limited series "Godless" and "Longmire."

Amtrak Plans To Keep Southwest Chief Train Route Running  Colorado Sun, Associated Press

Amtrak says the Southwest Chief train route connecting Chicago to Los Angeles with stops in Colorado will stay in operation as is for at least another year.

The Colorado Sun reports the national rail carrier had considered suspending rail service between Dodge City, Kansas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and replacing it with buses next year.

Amtrak's proposal stemmed from repairs needed to a 219-mile (352-kilometer) section of track between Trinidad, Colorado, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators from states along the route have been fighting Amtrak against implementing the busing option.

Scot Naparstek, Amtrak's executive vice president and chief operating officer, told a Senate committee last week that it is committed to keeping the train going at least through September 2019.


Campaign Spending Accelerates In New Mexico Governor Race – Associated Press

Campaign spending has accelerated in the political race for governor of New Mexico, with two candidates spending a combined $2.6 million over a four-week period.

Campaign finance reports filed Monday show that Democratic candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham spent $1.6 million in the four-week period ending Oct. 1. Her campaign raised more than $1.1 million in contributions, more than twice that of Republican rival Steve Pearce.

The two members of Congress are competing to succeed Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who cannot run for a third consecutive term.

The campaign finance reports were filed amid a blitz of television advertising. Early absentee balloting begins Tuesday.

Pearce's campaign raised about $420,000 in contributions and spent just over $1 million. Pearce had the larger campaign cash war chest leading toward October early voting.

New Mexico Poised To Begin Voting, Conclude Registration Associated Press

Voter registration is coming to a close throughout New Mexico as absentee voting begins in the general election to select a new governor.

Tuesday is the last day for eligible residents to register to vote in the election that culminates on Nov. 6.

The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office says absentee balloting begins Tuesday. Voters initially can obtain paper mail-in ballots or vote directly in person at county clerk offices.

New Mexico is picking a successor to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and selecting an attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and public land commissioner.

Congressional elections include a close race in southern New Mexico between Republican state Rep. Yvette Herrell and Democratic attorney Xochitl Torres Small, and a three-way race for U.S. Senate.

University Head To Recommend Covering Murals Associated Press

A University of New Mexico official says the school's president and provost want a set of Great Depression-era murals to be covered amid complaints about the depiction of Hispanics and Native Americans in one of the pieces on campus.

Alex Lubin, associate provost for faculty development, said Monday that the proposal would temporarily address decades-old concerns.

The image at the center of the dispute shows a blonde, blue-eyed man holding the hands of a faceless Hispanic man on one side and a faceless Native American on the other.

The proposal to cover the murals with curtains must go before the Regents Historic Preservation Committee for consideration.

The New Deal's Public Works of Art Project commissioned the murals in 1939 to depict Native Americans, Hispanics and whites of New Mexico.

For years, the murals have been the subject of protests — and sometimes vandalism.