Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- UTILITY MERGER-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state hearing examiner is recommending that a New Mexico regulatory commission reject a proposed merger involving the state's largest utility, Public Service Co. of New New Mexico. Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner Ashley Schannauer's report and recommendation said potential downsides of the merger outweigh the benefits. Under the merger, Connecticut-based Avangrid and its parent firm, Iberdrola of Spain, would acquire PNM Resources. and its PNM and Texas New Mexico Power subsidiaries. If approved, Avangrid would acquire PNMR in an all-cash transaction valued at $4.3 billion and affecting about 800,000 homes and businesses, including some 530,000 customers of PNM.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Interior Department is preparing to offer oil and gas lease sales on large tracts of public land despite concluding that burning fossil fuels from those parcels could carry huge costs and contribute to climate change. Burning oil, natural gas and coal from federally owned lands accounts for about 20% of energy-related U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But officials with the Biden administration's Bureau of Land Management say in newly released planning documents that they can't accurately determine the climate impacts from upcoming oil and gas lease sales in Western states. Officials proposed delaying sales of some tracts in Wyoming and Montana over concerns drilling could harm wildlife.
- ELECTION 2021-NEW MEXICO-MAYORS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voters in New Mexico's largest city and the state capital of Santa Fe are weighing whether to reelect progressive mayors or back challengers from the more conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Tuesday's elections are a preamble to statewide and congressional contests in 2022. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber are defending their handling of pandemic safety and the economy. Republicans who lost recent congressional bids also are running for mayor in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The election extends to city councils, school district boards, tax initiatives for local education and a stadium proposal in Albuquerque.
- GUNS BANNED-STATE CAPITOL
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Firearms are being banned at the New Mexico state Capitol building with few exceptions starting in early December under rule changes approved by leading Democratic lawmakers. Approved Monday, the gun ban reverses a live-and-let-live approach toward firearms that has endured for more than a century at the Statehouse. Exceptions will be made for certified law enforcement officers and some military personnel. Democratic Senate majority leader Peter Wirth says the gun ban is needed to guard against intimidation in political debates and ensure safety. Republican lawmakers said the proposal would infringe on constitutional gun rights and deserves a more thorough public vetting.
- PROP FIREARM-SHOOTING-ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the gun that killed a cinematographer says he hopes the tragedy prompts the film industry to "reevaluate its values and practices" to ensure no one is harmed again. David Halls released a statement to the New York Post, breaking his silence following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza during production of the Western "Rust" in New Mexico. The investigation is ongoing. Hollywood professionals have been baffled by the circumstances of the movie-set shooting. It already has led to other production crews stepping up safety measures.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Monday reported 34 more COVID-19 cases, but no coronavirus-related deaths for the 21st time in the past 33 days. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals to 36,867 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll remains at 1,487. Based on cases from Oct. 15-28, the Navajo Department of Health issued an advisory for 58 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. The tribe's reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
- ELECTION 2021-NEW MEXICO-MAYORS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Voters in New Mexico's largest city and the state capital of Santa Fe are weighing whether to reelect progressive mayors or back Hispanic challengers from the more conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Tuesday's elections are a preamble to statewide and congressional contests in 2022. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber are defending their handling of pandemic safety and economic relief funds. Tuesday marks the final day for in-person voting with absentee ballots due by 7 p.m.. The election extends to city councils, school district boards and tax initiatives for local education spending.
- SHOOTING INVESTIGATION
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The family of a northern New Mexico man killed in September has asked the state Attorney General's Office to take over the case. They cite concerns that the shooter is receiving preferential treatment because he's related to two area judges. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 70-year-old David Griego called 911 after he shot John Serna, and he reported he did so in self-defense. No charges have been filed in the case. The district attorney says Griego's relationship to the judges has no bearing on the case and that the investigation into Serna's death is ongoing.