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Crews fight New Mexico fires as some evacuations lift

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Authorities have lifted some evacuation orders for a southern New Mexico mountain community hit by wildfire. Firefighters are working Saturday to contain a wind-driven blaze that killed two people and destroyed over 200 homes. A Village of Ruidoso spokesperson said about 60% of the estimated 4,500 people who were told to evacuate since the fire started Tuesday were allowed to return home late Friday. Evacuation estimates were previously reported to be around 5,000 people. Specific numbers weren't immediately available. Fire incident commander Dave Bales said crews on Saturday worked to put out hot spots and clear lines along the fire's perimeter to keep the fire from spreading.

State police: Suspect dead, officer uninjured in shooting

PREWITT, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico state police say a state police officer is uninjured and a suspect is dead following a shooting on Interstate 40 on Saturday. The agency said in a brief statement that the incident occurred near Prewitt in northwest New Mexico, The statement did not provide circumstances of the incident or identities of those involved.

Some state lawmakers calling it quits, can't afford to serve

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Various state legislators around the country are calling it quits this year, in part because of the low pay. It's an issue especially in part-time legislatures like Connecticut, where the base salary of $28,000 hasn't been raised in 21 years. There's concern that the low pay will discourage people of modest means from running, making legislatures less diverse racially, economically, and age and gender-wise. Bills increasing legislator pay were proposed in several states this year, including Connecticut, Georgia, Oregon, and New Mexico, which is the nation's only unsalaried legislature. But so far they've faltered. Some lawmakers fear that voting themselves a pay raise will rankle the voters.

Biden increases oil royalty rate, scales back lease sales

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Interior Department is moving forward with the first onshore sales of public oil and gas drilling leases under President Joe Biden, but will sharply increase royalty rates for companies that extract oil. Friday's announcement comes as federal officials weigh efforts to fight climate change against pressure to bring down high gas prices. The royalty rate for new leases will increase to 18.75% from 12.5%. That's a 50% jump and marks the first increase since the 1920s. Republicans want Biden to expand U.S. crude production. But he faces calls from within his own party to do more to curb fossil fuel emissions that are heating the planet.

Prayer, worship lift unaccompanied migrant teens in shelters

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Every Sunday afternoon since last Easter, teens kneel by a makeshift altar at Fort Bliss and pray so hard that tears stream down their faces. They pray for families left behind when they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone without authorization and for quick release from this emergency shelter on a vast Army post in the Texas desert. And they pray for their futures. Here and at similar facilities set up along the southwestern border during migrant surges, Catholic priests, deacons, and music ministers celebrate Mass with them. They say they hope to bring these young people some comfort and healing.

New details in officer-involved killing of shooting suspect

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police have released more details about last month's officer-involved fatal shooting of a man suspected of firing shots into vehicles driving near his home in the Foothills area, killing one person and injuring two others. Police said Friday three officers responding to reports of an "active shooter" March 14 approached 52-year-old John Dawson after he exited the house about 40 minutes after the shootings. They were under the impression Hunter was surrendering but he "suddenly got to his feet and advanced on the officers. Police say three bean-bag rounds were deployed but Hunter began to pick up a handgun on the ground and the officers fired 12 shots.

New Mexico adopts stiffer pollution rules for oil and gas

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have approved more rules aimed at cracking down on pollution from the state's big oil and natural gas industry. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration on Thursday praised the rules and called them among the toughest in the nation. The rules set by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board come amid a rekindled debate over domestic U.S. production amid growing concerns about global energy market instability. Lujan Grisham is a Democrat running for reelection and has pushed for more regulations during her first term. She says the latest rules represent a big step toward her goal of lowering emissions and improving air quality.

Ruling rejects challenge to habitat designation for mouse

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An appeals court on Friday uphold a lower court's rejection of two ranching groups' challenge to a federal agency's designation of certain riparian areas in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado as critical habitat of a mouse species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 designated nearly 22 square miles in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico as critical habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a U.S. District Court judge correctly rejected the challenge by the Northern New Mexico Stockman's Association and the Otero County Cattleman's Association.