- BETTER INTERNET-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A nationwide search is underway for an administrator to guide New Mexico's expansion of high-speed internet, with an appointment expected in July. Details of the talent search are part of a progress report by state information technology officials, scheduled for discussion Thursday at a legislative hearing. The COVID-19 pandemic and a year-long pivot to online learning have exposed gaps in internet access across large swaths of the state. The Legislature and governor recently approved $133 million in spending to expand high-speed internet access during the coming fiscal year that starts July 1. They also called for the creation of a state office dedicated to improving internet access.
- COLORADO RIVER-DROUGHT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A key reservoir on the Colorado River is shrinking to record low levels, prompting concerns throughout the drought-stricken U.S. West about future water supply. The dropping surface elevation of Lake Mead along the Arizona-Nevada state line dipped to a historic low on Wednesday, surpassing 2016. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the lake level is projected to continue falling until November, affecting recreation and hydropower efficiency. Already, water users in Arizona and Nevada are prepared to get less water in 2022 from the Colorado River. Millions of people in the U.S. West rely on the river that has been declining amid a prolonged drought and climate change.
- POLICE SHOOTING-ESPANOLA
ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — Two Espanola police officers fatally shot a man who allegedly used his vehicle to drag one of the officers during an encounter in a park. A New Mexico State Police statement said the officers drew their guns and shot 38-year-old Luis Nathan Leyba of Española, Tuesday night after he disregarded commands to stop. The statement said a woman who was with Leyba was released from a hospital after treatment for minor injuries. The two officers were placed on administrative leave pending the State Police investigation into the incident.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Private child care centers are the latest to offer perks to parents lining up to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Starting last week and running through July 4, they are offering free child care to parents with vaccine appointments, or who are recovering from vaccine side effects. That's on top of other corporate and state incentives, which range from free beer to lottery sweepstakes. State early childhood officials announced the participation Wednesday of the state's largest daycare chains, KinderCare and La Petite Academy, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. YMCA locations across the state are also offering free child care, including for nonmembers.
- FOREVER CHEMICALS-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico environmental official and others say setting a national drinking water standard for so-called "forever chemicals" is needed to address contamination around the country. New Mexico Environment Secretary Jim Kenney was among those who testified before a congressional committee Wednesday. The state is working on determining the extent of contamination at two U.S. Air Force bases that includes plumes from past military firefighting activities. An official from West Virginia and a mother from Pennsylvania also testified about the effects of contamination in their states linked to a group of chemicals known as PFAS.
- OIL AND GAS-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Some New Mexico lawmakers are supporting the Biden administration's pause and review of federal oil and gas lease sales. Two dozen Democrats sent a letter Tuesday to the president and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. They said they are committed to moving away from the state's over-dependence on fossil fuels. However, Democratic legislative leaders were not among those who signed the letter. Most New Mexico lawmakers are walking a more conservative line given the industry's significant role in funding state government. House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Townsend called the letter irresponsible, saying it failed to offer any concrete plans for protecting workers and the state's economy.
- INTERIOR-INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — President Joe Biden's nominee to oversee Indigenous affairs at the Interior Department says he doesn't want to get in tribes' way as they seek to improve infrastructure, public safety and the economy on their lands. Bryan Newland appeared before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Wednesday for a confirmation hearing. The committee didn't immediately vote but expressed widespread support for the former president of the Bay Mills Indian Community. Newland is being considered for the position of assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. He'd be tasked with engaging with hundreds of tribes to ensure the federal government is upholding its responsibilities to them.
A wildfire in Arizona that has neighboring New Mexico breathing in smoke is one of several blazes scorching the drought-stricken Southwest. Fire officials say it could be the start of a devastating summer. Residents in New Mexico's largest city woke up Wednesday to find Albuquerque once again shrouded in smoke. The state already is dealing with its own fires. Multiple wildfires also were burning in Utah. Meanwhile, firefighters in a former mining town east of Phoenix made progress in corralling a blaze there. Agencies in the region already have enacted widespread restrictions on campfires and fireworks.