Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST

Nov 29, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — From taco stands to toxic waste, environmental regulators are tasked with inspecting tens of thousands of businesses, restaurants and industrial sites every year.Demand far outpaces the number of available inspectors, so the head of the New Mexico Environment Department is calling for legislators to make a bigger investment in the agency to address the problem.Environment Secretary James Kenney is asking for an additional $8.8 million in state general funds. He says that would help pay for nearly 70 more employees and fund operations aimed at ensuring public health.First-year Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham supports the proposal. Her administration is pushing for greater regulation of emissions from the oil and gas sector and also needs to build up the permitting and inspection infrastructure needed for the burgeoning hemp industry.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Nearly $34 million in federal funding is being funneled to New Mexico to help make improvements to water and wastewater systems.The U.S. Agriculture Department says in all, $635 million is being invested in 122 projects across the country. Those include projects at Laguna Pueblo and the cities of Lordsburg and Truth or Consequences.A loan and grant financing package worth more than $19 million has been awarded to Laguna Pueblo to rehabilitate existing sewer lines. The money also will be used to enlarge a sewage lagoon.Lordsburg will use nearly $5 million to complete a massive rehabilitation project of the city's water system. That includes the installation of a backup power generator and replacement of old water lines.In Truth or Consequences, more than $9.4 million is going toward system upgrades.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest city has set a record for snowfall on Thanksgiving Day.The National Weather Service says 3.1 inches (7.8 centimeters) were recorded at the Albuquerque airport Thursday. Looking back over 60 years of data, forecasters say the previous snowiest Thanksgiving was only a half-inch (1.27 centimeters) in 2007.Some areas around Albuquerque and Santa Fe reported even more snow Thursday.A winter weather advisory remains in effect for some areas.Forecasters say a second round of snow and strong winds will begin Friday afternoon. The storm will move in from the west and through the northern mountains late Friday where the highest elevations could see another foot (30 centimeters) of snow or more.A cold front will affect western and central portions.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Police officers will be watching for drunk drivers throughout the month of December.State officials this week announced the sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, saying they will occur throughout New Mexico over the next few weeks.Authorities say bringing awareness to the crackdown is part of an effort to change society's attitude about drinking and driving and to ultimately reduce alcohol-related fatalities.Nearly 350 traffic fatalities were reported for the first 10 months of the year. That's higher than the fatalities recorded during the same period in 2017 and 2018, but statistics compiled by the state show the number of alcohol-related fatalities so far this year is far lower than the previous two years.The numbers show 92 traffic fatalities between January and October involved alcohol.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest electric provider says continued operation of a coal-fired power plant using carbon-capture technology wouldn't be in the best interest of customers.Public Service Co. of New Mexico made the declaration in testimony filed with state regulators who are weighing the San Juan Generating Station's pending closure.The recent filing was in response to concerns that the utility had not presented an alternative case for installing carbon capture at the plant. At issue is the economic effects closure will have on the region.The utility is standing behind its proposal to rely on a mix of natural gas, renewable resources and batteries.The utility's modeling shows carbon capture technology would cost slightly less than an all-renewables plan. But overall savings would be less than under PNM's preferred option.


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Navajo Nation announced this week it has signed a contract with renewable energy companies to convert methane from its oil-producing operations in Utah into eco-friendly hydrogen.The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Navajo Nation Oil and Gas technology officer Bill McCabe announced the plan Monday at the Utah State Capitol.He says the plan will allow the Navajo Nation to take something that was going up in smoke and convert it a "fuel of the future" that has higher economic value.Laura Nelson, who heads the Utah Governor's Office of Energy Development, called it a monumental step toward clean energy and more tribal sovereignty.Missouri-based alternative-energy company H2GO declined to fully explain how the conversion process works.Hydrogen is considered cleaner and can be used in fuel-cell electric cars.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials are urging residents to shop local.This year's Small Business Saturday tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and runs through midnight.For 24 hours, the state suspends collections of gross receipts tax on sales of qualifying items at businesses that have fewer than 10 employees and whose primary place of business is in New Mexico.Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke says it's a great opportunity to support home-grown New Mexico businesses.In Albuquerque, city officials are using the shopping day to launch Albuquerque Rapid Transit, or ART. The bus service runs through a popular shopping corridor along historic Route 66.In Roswell, Mayor Dennis Kintigh will be reading an official proclamation in support of small businesses to kick off the shopping event.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A federal judge has delayed the trial of a New Mexico man arrested on murder charges in the death of a 5-year-old girl after attorneys on both sides requested more time.The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Wednesday that District Judge William Johnson designated the case "complex" delaying the trial to October to provide additional time.Attorneys say the FBI produced thousands of pages of discovery including medical evidence, about 3,000 images and hundreds of witness interviews.Officials say 26-year-old Malcolm Torres was scheduled to start trial Monday in Albuquerque.Authorities say Torres was arrested Sunday on a second-degree murder charge.Authorities say police discovered the body of Renezmae Calzada in the Rio Grande Sept. 11 following an FBI investigation and three-day search.___