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Local and State News

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

  • US: Oil, gas leases on hold around New Mexico's Chaco park

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of the Interior says oil and gas leasing within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico will be prohibited for the next two years. The temporary moratorium announced Monday will allow time for the agency to consider a proposal that would withdraw federal land holdings from development in northwestern New Mexico for 20 years. The announcement comes as environmentalists, some tribes and Democratic politicians pressure Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to take administrative action to protect areas outside the park's boundaries. Haaland is the first Native American to hold a cabinet position and is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico.

  • New Mexico governor applauds infrastructure investments

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's governor is applauding the final approval of a federal infrastructure bill that includes billions of dollars for hydrogen facilities across the country. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was at the White House in Washington on Monday to cheer the signing of legislation for new infrastructure investments. The governor's office says the bill includes multibillion-dollar investments in New Mexico for highway programs, bridge replacement, public transportation, electric vehicle charging equipment and more. The bill also includes $8 billion for hydrogen infrastructure. Lujan Grisham supports state legislation aimed at creating incentives for investment in hydrogen infrastructure.

  • New Mexico spaceport boss seeks funds to keep momentum going

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The executive director of New Mexico's spaceport says operations are ramping up at the desert outpost, and he needs the Legislature to allocate another $2 million in annual funding to keep momentum going. Scott McLaughlin testified before a legislative committee Monday. Without the funding, he warned he would have to cut staff and limit around-the-clock operations at Spaceport America. The current budget is around $10 million, with about 60% coming from customers such as anchor tenant Virgin Galactic. Rocket company SpinLaunch recently tested its launch system, and investors will be watching for Virgin Galactic to start up commercial flights in late 2022. 

  • Huge fire forces temporary closure of Walmart in Edgewood

EDGEWOOD, N.M. (AP) — A Walmart store in Edgewood is closed until further notice after a massive fire. Santa Fe County Fire officials say the blaze at the store near I-40 was reported around 8 p.m. Sunday. It took crews nearly three hours to gain control of it. KRQE-TV reported flames could be seen shooting up from the building miles away. Firefighters from multiple agencies including Bernalillo County Fire, Edgewood Fire and Albuquerque Fire and Rescue assisted. No injuries were reported. Authorities have not determined the cause of the blaze but they suspect it may have been arson.

  • Biden boosts crime fighting efforts on Native American lands

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has ordered several Cabinet departments to work together to combat human trafficking and crime on Native American lands, where violent crime rates are more than double the national average. Biden spoke Monday at a White House summit on tribal nations. He is also asking the Justice, Homeland Security and Interior departments to work to strengthen participation in Amber Alert programs and national training programs for federal agents, and appoint a liaison who can speak with family members and to advocates. The administration also announced plans to pursue a 20-year ban on oil and gas drilling in Chaco Canyon, an ancient Native American heritage site in northwestern New Mexico.

  • Navajo Nation reports 89 new COVID-19 cases, one new death

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has reported 89 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. The tribe released its latest coronavirus-related figures Sunday. Due to a technical issue, Navajo health officials did not have a new total for the number of cases. But at last count, there have been 38,479 new cases. The known death toll is now 1,514. On Sunday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez visited the Indian Health Service COVID-19 vaccination site in Chinle, Arizona. He thanked health care workers who administered vaccines and booster shots. Other vaccination opportunities are available at health care facilities on the reservation that stretches into New Mexico and Utah.

  • Albuquerque police investigate city's 100th homicide of year

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police in Albuquerque say they are investigating the city's 100th homicide case so far this year. Police say officers responded to a shots fired call around 4:30 a.m. Saturday. They found a car that looked like it crashed into someone's yard and the person inside had at least one gunshot wound. Police say that person died on the scene. No other information on the victim has been released yet. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina says "hitting 100 is a grim reminder of the violence that's occurring in the city." He says Albuquerque "won't get anywhere without the community working together" and a cultural change is needed to stop the violence.

  • Film crew union narrowly approves contract with producers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Film industry crew members have narrowly voted to approve a pair of contracts with Hollywood producers. The vote announced Monday comes after a standoff that nearly led to a strike that would have frozen productions across the U.S. The popular vote of members was within a single percentage point. Many members of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees felt the two deals didn't go far enough on issues like long workdays that lead to fatigue that can be dangerous. The union represents about 150,000 behind-the-scenes workers, including stagehands, cinematographers, camera operators and makeup artists.