Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT
Wind energy company kills 150 eagles in US, pleads guilty
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A wind energy company has been sentenced to probation and ordered to pay more than $8 million in fines and restitution after at least 150 eagles were killed over the past decade at its wind farms across the U.S.. NextEra Energy subsidiary ESI Energy pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act during a Tuesday court appearance in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Prosecutors say the company was warned its wind farms would kill birds but proceeded anyway without getting a required permit. They say the company also ignored advice about how to minimize the deaths. NextEra President Rebecca Kujawa says collisions of birds with wind turbines are unavoidable. It's illegal to harm eagles under federal law.
Judge acquits man of misdemeanors in Capitol riot trial
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has acquitted a New Mexico man of charges that he illegally entered the U.S. Capitol riot and engaged in disorderly conduct after walking into the building during last year's riot. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden issued the verdict from the bench Wednesday after hearing testimony without a jury in the case against Matthew Martin. McFadden acquitted Martin of all four counts for which he was charged. Martin is the third Capitol riot defendant whose case has been resolved by a trial. He is the first of the three to be acquitted of all charges that he faced.
US nuclear agency sued over public records requests
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A watchdog group is suing the National Nuclear Security Administration over its failure to release public records related to the U.S. government's plans to manufacture key components for the nation's nuclear arsenal. The complaint filed Wednesday in federal court covers more than a dozen records requests made since 2017 by the Los Alamos Study Group. The nonprofit is seeking transparency about one the largest warhead-related programs since the end of the Cold War. The group believes money is being wasted. The National Nuclear Security Administration did not immediately respond to questions about the complaint or the records requests.
Navajo Nation eases COVID restrictions; mask mandate remains
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has loosened coronavirus pandemic restrictions to allow more people into businesses and to gather socially and for outdoor events. The tribe has been more cautious in reopening than the states that surround it. Residents and visitors on the Navajo Nation are still required to wear a mask when in public. Tribal President Jonathan Nez says the new guidelines for businesses, schools and gatherings are based on a consistent decline in daily coronavirus cases since a large spike in January after the holidays. Businesses, including the tribe's four casinos, now can operate at 75% capacity, up from 50%.
New Mexico inmates outline abuse in civil rights lawsuit
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — More than a dozen inmates who were transferred following a riot at a New Mexico lockup in 2020 were allegedly abused and terrorized by state correctional officers. The allegations are outlined in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a watchdog organization and a civil rights attorney. The inmates claim their rights to due process and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment were violated by a deputy warden and others at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility. The state Corrections Department said it will investigate the allegations. The case comes as the federal government faces more pressure to reform its own prison system and as advocates push for more oversight at the state level.
New Mexico legislature approves payments to offset inflation
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic lawmakers are pushing for one-time payments to New Mexico residents of $500 per individual or $1,000 per household to offset steep prices for fuel and raging inflation. The aid package won legislative approval Tuesday and goes to the governor for consideration. The bill would distribute nearly $700 million to adult residents of all income levels. Republicans in the legislative minority warned that rebates would only stoke inflation further. Fuel prices are taking a bite out household finances at the same time that New Mexico state government is experiencing a financial windfall linked to record-setting oil production.
Agency: New Mexico pot legalization doesn't change US law
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol says agents at checkpoints in New Mexico will continue to enforce a federal law making possession of marijuana illegal even though the state has legalized recreational marijuana. A spokesman for the agency's El Paso Sector said Tuesday that means agents will still regard marijuana as contraband and seize it. New Mexico's legalization of recreational marijuana took effect Friday, but a Border Patrol statement explained that marijuana remains a prohibited drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The El Paso Sector includes New Mexico and the two most western of Texas' counties, including El Paso.
Albuquerque council nixes veto of repeal of plastic bag ban
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Albuquerque City Council has voted to uphold a previous decision to repeal an ordinance banning grocery stores and other retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags. The council voted last month to eliminate the ban, prompting a veto by Mayor Tim Keller, but the council's 6-3 vote Monday night overrides Keller's veto. Supporters of the ban cited environmental reasons. Opponents said it inconvenienced shoppers. The ban took effect Jan. 1, 2020 after being approved in 2019. The council also authorized creation of marijuana smoking lounges though public consumption of marijuana would remain illegal. A state law legalizing recreational marijuana took effect Friday.