Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — U.S. nuclear regulators have hosted their final public hearing on a proposal to build a multibillion-dollar complex in southern New Mexico to store spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the country. And there's still disagreement about whether granting a license to Holtec International would be a good thing. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission heard from supporters and critics during Wednesday's meeting. The commission's draft environmental review says the project would have minimal environmental effects. A study on the project's impact on human safety is pending. That will require another round of public comment.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials are urging residents to take precautions while celebrating Labor Day to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the state "has made great progress in the fight against COVID-19." But she says the holiday weekend will be a key to keeping spread of the virus low and to ensuring that students can return safely to school this year. She asks New Mexicans to "not let their guard down" and to continue wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings. Specific practices recommended by state officials including celebrating outside and keeping celebrations within households. Also, wearing a mask, washing hands and staying six feet apart.
- NAVAJO NATION-CENSUS
CHURCH ROCK, N.M. (AP) — Navajo Nation casinos are teaming up with regional census officials for a series of events they hope will boost participation. Billions of dollars in federal funding are at stake along with congressional representation, and many Native American communities are historically undercounted. The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise will be hosting events in Arizona and New Mexico where people can either drive through or sit with a representative to complete the census questionnaire. The Navajo Nation this week joined a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that are seeking a court order to keep the U.S. Census Bureau from winding down operations.
- NUKE REPOSITORY-VENTILATION
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Crews at the U.S. government's underground nuclear waste repository in New Mexico are starting a new phase of a contentious project to dig a utility shaft. Officials say it will increase ventilation at the site where workers entomb the radioactive remnants of decades of bomb-making. Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant say the $75 million project is a top priority. Adequate ventilation at the repository has been an issue since 2014, when a radiation release forced a temporary closure and contamination limited air flow underground where workers dispose of nuclear waste. Watchdog groups are concerned, saying a final permit for the work hasn't been issued.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials are proposing to exempt some areas from habitat protections meant to save imperiled species. Friday's announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would place greater weight on the economic benefits of developments when deciding if land or water should be protected. It's the latest move by the Trump administration in a years-long overhaul of how the Endangered Species Act is used. Wildlife advocates say it could allow more drilling, minin and other activities in areas that are crucial to the survival of dwindling populations of plants and animals. Administration officials say the proposal gives more deference to local community needs.
- ART COLLECTIVE UNIONIZATION
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Workers at a New Mexico art collective say they are seeking unionization. Employees at the Santa Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf say Tuesday they will look to unionize under the Communications Workers of America umbrella. The National Labor Relations Board says workers can form a union either by a petition and election or by their employer voluntarily recognizing the union. Meow Wolf's top executives Ali Rubinstein, Carl Christensen and Jim Ward say in a statement that they do not support unionization. The union is currently collecting signatures for a petition, which more than half of collective's employees already have signed.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO SCHOOLS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Some grade schools in New Mexico will be allowed to have in-person learning next week, but it's unclear how many are signing up. The majority of counties have low enough COVID-19 case rates to allow for students to attend two days per week. But Public Education Department Secretary Ryan Stewart says the state will not mandate in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic. Many districts have decided to keep schools online-only through the end of the month. Albuquerque Public Schools, the state's largest district, has decided against nearly all in-person learning until January. Stewart says the situation is fluid, and some school boards could announce in-person learning plans for younger students as soon as Friday.
- SELF-DRIVING TRUCKS-TEST CENTER
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Daimler Trucks and allied vehicle software company Torc Robotics are expanding their testing of self-driving trucks to public roads in New Mexico along major long-haul freight routes. The companies have established a new testing center in Albuquerque, as they begin automated runs for 18-wheel vehicles with autonomous diving technology on the U.S. Southwest's highways — supported by a human driver and a safety conductor. Daimler's Autonomous Technology Group has taken aim at commercializing self-driving trucks within a decade, and the new testing location complements ongoing research on roadways in Virginia with milder weather and fewer steep hills.