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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two Indigenous communities in New Mexico are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a revised federal rule that lifts protections for many streams, creeks and wetlands across the nation. The pueblos of Jemez and Laguna are the latest to raise concerns over inadequate protections for local water sources in the desert Southwest. The challenge follows a similar case filed in 2020 by the Navajo Nation, the nation's largest Native American tribe, and several environmental groups. Like other Indigenous communities, Laguna and Jemez say waters that flow through their lands are used for domestic and agricultural uses and are essential for cultural and ceremonial practices.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic Party leaders rallied behind state Rep. Melanie Stansbury as the nominee to defend an Albuquerque-based congressional seat left open by newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. Stansbury on Wednesday edged out state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez by four votes in runoff balloting among 200 members of the state central committee on the nomination. The second-term legislator will confront Republican state Sen. Mark Moores in a June 1 special congressional election. Democrats have held the 1st Congressional District seat since 2009. Republican Heather Wilson won the district's last special election more than two decades ago.


MISSION, Texas (AP) — Overwhelmed and underprepared, U.S. authorities are releasing migrant families on the Mexican border without notices to appear in immigration court or sometimes without any paperwork at all. U.S. immigration authorities say court notices often take hours to prepare and describe the move as a way to save time. The rapid releases ease pressure on the Border Patrol and its badly overcrowded holding facilities but shift work to Immigration and Customs and Enforcement, which enforces immigration laws within the United States. Migrants are now being told to report to ICE within 60 days.


SANTA FE, N.M (AP) — New Mexico's Legislature has approved the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in a bill that the governor plans to sign, extending the legal cannabis market in the American Southwest by April 2022. The state House concurred with Senate amendments Wednesday to provide the Legislature's final approval. A companion bill would automatically erase some past marijuana convictions and reconsider criminal sentences for about 100 prisoners. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called a special legislation this week to push for legalization of marijuana in efforts to spur employment and a stable new source of state income. She is expected to sign the package of bills.


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's plan to transform America's infrastructure includes $16 billion to plug old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines. Hundreds of thousands of "orphaned" oil and gas wells and abandoned coal and hardrock mines pose serious safety hazards, while causing ongoing environmental damage. The administration sees the longstanding problem as an opportunity to create jobs and remediate pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Many of the old wells and mines are located in rural communities that have been hard-hit by the pandemic. Some sites have sat unattended for decades.


SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say two Ecuadoran children were abandoned by smugglers after being dropped over a 14-foot-high barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday evening. The toddler and her 5-year-old sister were unhurt, but officials with the U.S. Border Patrol called the incident near Santa Teresa, New Mexico, appalling. It comes as the Biden administration struggles with finding space to house the several hundred kids and teenagers who are crossing the border daily. In some cases, parents refused entry into the U.S. have sent their children across the border alone, hoping they will be placed with relatives eventually.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Wednesday reported 15 new COVID-19 cases, but no deaths for the third time in the past four days and sixth time in the last 11 days. Tribal health officials say the latest figures bring the total number of cases since the pandemic started to 30,095 with the known death toll remaining at 1,247. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. The Navajo Nation reservation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will expand vaccine eligibility on Monday to everyone 16 years of age and older. The federal government has directed states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by May 1. Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said Wednesday that New Mexico will be meeting that mark a month early. While the pace of vaccination has been limited by supply, she said federal officials have indicated that states should expect "meaningful increases" in supply over the coming weeks. New Mexico continues to lead the U.S. in vaccine distribution. Nearly 1.2 million doses have been administered in the state so far.