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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

  • Monuments and statues are falling. But what comes next?

TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M. (AP) — Activists and towns are left wondering what to do with empty spaces that once honored historic figures tied to racism as statues and monuments fall. They also are debating how to remember civil rights figures in areas where they have been forgotten. Some advocates say figures like Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman or Mexican American civil rights leader Dolores Huerta should replace the fallen statues. Others say Isleta Pueblo and World War II Marine Sgt. Miguel Trujillo Sr., who sued to get Native Americans the right to vote in New Mexico, or former slave-turned-abolitionist Olaudah Equiano should have monuments erected in their honor. 

  • Governor's vetos could cost New Mexico tribes some funding

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham used her veto power to preserve executive control over hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funding in the budget solvency bill she recently signed. The move could mean less financial assistance for some Native American communities. State lawmakers during the special session had prioritized the communities by setting aside $23 million for tribal governments and another $15 million specifically for northwest counties with large Indigenous populations. That was in addition to allocating the federal funds statewide based on population numbers. The governor's team says it's working on a formula to ensure distribution is equitable.

  • Funding approved for housing in 6 New Mexico communities

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority has approved more than $74 million for eight housing developments in six communities around the state. The funding comes through the federal low-income housing tax credit program. Officials said the projects will result in more than 260 new apartments in Sunland Park, Mescalero, Acoma Pueblo and Albuquerque. Another 202 apartments will be renovated in Los Lunas and Albuquerque. In addition to providing much-needed housing in the communities, officials said construction activity from the developments is expected to generate $33 million in income for the communities and support hundreds of jobs.

  • New Mexico utility unveils solar array to power Facebook

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The largest electric provider in New Mexico has unveiled its latest solar array. A virtual ribbon cutting ceremony was held Tuesday for the Encino Solar Field, located in Sandoval County west of Rio Rancho. Public Service Co. of New Mexico and New Mexico Renewable Development LLC entered an agreement last year to build the 50-megawatt solar array to provide electricity for Facebook's data center near Los Lunas. PNM says it's committed to providing emissions-free electricity to customers over the next two decades. Facebook has committed to support its operations with 100% renewable energy beginning this year.

  • New Mexico fines Denver-based firm $5.3M for air pollution

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department has fined an oil and gas company more than $5.3 million for repeated violations of state air pollution standards. DCP Midstream was issued a compliance order Tuesday. The Denver-based company allegedly had numerous emissions violations between December 2017 and June 2019 for eight Permian Basin facilities in New Mexico's Eddy and Lea counties. State officials said DCP submitted 367 excess emission reports for the eight facilities, totaling over 2.1 million pounds of pollutants. DCP also has been ordered to immediately comply with all air permit limits and state and federal air quality laws. A DCP Midstream spokeswoman says the company received the order and plans to respond soon.  

  • Police: Man detained children after mistaking pen for bullet

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man is facing charges after police said he held a group of children against their will when he thought one of them had a .50-caliber round. Police say the boy actually just had a pen. The Hobbs News-Sun reports Danny Billington was arrested last week after he waived down a police officer in Hobbs and told the officer a juvenile had a .50 caliber round on him. According to a criminal complaint, the 41-year-old Billington took the supposed round from the child and laid it on the ground before talking to the officer. Billington was charged with robbery, false imprisonment and battery.

  • New Mexico offers $400 million in small-business loans

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation to offer more than $400 million in low-interest loans to small businesses that have taken a financial hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday's approval allows New Mexico businesses to borrow up to $75,000 each from the state's severance tax permanent fund. Interest from the $5 billion trust fund is traditionally used to retire debt on public construction projects. Lujan Grisham says the loan program will use the state's wealth to revive crucial small businesses. Health officials on Tuesday reported an additional 221 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 13,727 since the pandemic began.

  • US nuclear lab investigates breach at plutonium facility

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at one of the nation's premier nuclear labs are investigating the potential exposure of employees to plutonium. Los Alamos National Laboratory has confirmed that 15 workers are being evaluated after a breach involving a gloved box that was being used to handle the material. The incident happened in June. The lab says the area inside the plutonium facility was secured and there's no risk to public health or safety. The lab is preparing to resume and ramp up production of the plutonium cores used to trigger nuclear weapons. It's facing of a 2026 deadline to begin producing at least 30 cores a year.