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

  • Progressive incumbents prevail in New Mexico mayor races

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Voters rallied behind incumbent progressive mayors of New Mexico's largest city and state capital in local elections Tuesday, rejecting challenges from the more conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller claimed victory in a speech to supporters, saying voters sent a clear message of support for his administration. The local elections are a preamble to statewide and congressional contests in 2022. Keller and Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber have defended their handling of pandemic safety and the economy. Republicans also made unsuccessful bids for mayor in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. A stadium proposal in Albuquerque was rejected by voters.

  • Official: New Mexico regulators should reject utility merger

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A hearing examiner is recommending that New Mexico regulators reject a proposed merger involving the state's largest utility, Public Service Co. of New New Mexico, with Spanish energy giant Iberdrola. The recommendation by Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner Ashley Schannauer says the potential downsides of the merger outweigh the benefits. Under the merger, Connecticut-based Avangrid and parent firm Iberdrola would acquire PNM Resources and its subsidiaries. If approved, the $4.3 billion transaction would affect about 800,000 homes and businesses. Critics have sounded the alarm over the proposal, citing a sordid track record of reliability and customer service by Avangrid.

  • Feds seek tougher sentences for veterans who stormed Capitol

Federal judges have a thorny question to consider when they sentence military veterans who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Do they deserve leniency because they served their country or tougher punishment because they swore an oath to defend it? The Justice Department has adopted the tougher position. In at least five cases, prosecutors have argued that a rioter's military service weighs in favor of a jail sentence or house arrest because it made their actions on Jan. 6 more egregious. An Associated Press review of Capitol riot court records shows that at least three of two dozen sentenced defendants so far are veterans.

  • US says oil, gas sales damage climate — but won't stop them

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, Colorado and other states over concerns drilling could harm wildlife.

  • Tribal groups: Arizona Corp Commission giving token funding

PHOENIX (AP) — Tribal grassroots groups say the Arizona Corporation Commission is giving the Navajos, Hopis and rural communities in northern Arizona only token amounts of funding as they rebuild their economies in the wake of coal plant and mine closures. Navajo grassroots groups say the judge overseeing the proceedings had recommended a minimum payment of $50 million to the Navajos, nearly $1.7 million to the Hopis and $5 million to Navajo County communities. But the groups say the commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to slash the amounts, giving the Navajo Nation $10 million to be paid over the next three years, along with $11 million to the Hopi Tribe and $500,000 to be paid to Navajo County communities.

  • Navajo Nation: No COVID-related deaths, 22nd time in 34 days

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 23 more COVID-19 cases, but no coronavirus-related deaths for the 22nd time in the past 34 days. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's totals to 36,934 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. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says 70% of eligible residents 12 years and older are fully vaccinated and health care facilities on the Navajo Nation have administered over 16,200 booster shots in the last few months.   

  • US agency decides against flooding Grand Canyon amid drought

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation decided against sending water rushing through the Grand Canyon this fall to redeposit sediment because of persistent drought. Agency officials said opening the bypass tubes at the Glen Canyon Dam would have reduced the elevation of Lake Powell at a time when it's at historic lows. The agency also cited projected losses in hydropower. A remarkable monsoon left an abundance of sand in the Colorado River system that has helped build up beaches and sandbars in the Grand Canyon. Some have criticized the bureau's decision and said they suspect it was based on politics, not science.

  • Hobbs newspaper editor Todd Bailey dies at 49

HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Todd Bailey, editor of the Hobbs News-Sun, died Sunday of cancer. He was 49. News-Sun Publisher David Russell wrote in a front-page column that Bailey was surrounded by family when he died in the community that he loved and that loved him. Bailey grew up in Hobbs. He began his newspaper career there and returned to the News-Sun in 2012 after stints with other newspapers. Bailey was diagnosed with cancer in his left leg in 2020, leading to an amputation that fall. Just recently, cancer had spread to his lungs. Bailey's sister said plans are pending for memorials in Hobbs and Albuquerque.