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

Jun 11, 2019

Facebook is building a massive solar project in TexasALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Facebook is building a massive solar farm in West Texas that's believed to be one of the largest solar projects in the nation.Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy recently announced it was partnering with the social media giant on the $416 million project.It comes as Menlo Park, California-based Facebook is finishing construction of a data center near Albuquerque.Longroad Energy says the Prospero Solar project just north of Odessa, Texas, has enough capacity to power an estimated 72,000 homes.The project is Facebook's first direct investment in a renewable energy project.Longroad says Shell Energy North America also signed a 12-year power purchase agreement for the solar farm's power.


Ex-New Mexico governor, NMSU chancellor to join ethics panelLAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Former New Mexico State University Chancellor and President Garrey Carruthers has been appointed to the State Ethics Commission.Carruthers, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, was appointed to the commission by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle.Carruthers was co-chair of Gov. Bill Richardson's Task Force on Ethics Reform in 2006 when Carruthers was dean of NMSU College of Business. He also served as special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.Voters approved the creation of the commission by statewide ballot last year to oversee conduct by public officials, political candidates, lobbyists and government contractors amid a string of political corruption scandals.Detailed provisions for the seven-seat body were signed into law last month and outline investigatory powers and public disclosure. Subpoenas must be approved by a judge.


Border state challenges quick-release asylum practicesSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico and its largest city are suing the Trump administration to stem the quick release of asylum seeking migrants into local communities while demanding reimbursement for humanitarian efforts to shelter migrants.Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday announced the lawsuit against acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and top federal immigration officials.The lawsuit is the first of its kind by a state. It resembles a suit by San Diego County in April also challenging the cancellation of an immigration program that helped migrants with phone calls and other travel logistics as they sought out final destinations throughout the United States. Now asylum seeking migrants typically are released almost immediately.The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.


Most New Mexicans are Real ID-compliant as deadline loomsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico now has 1 million residents with driver's licenses or identification cards that comply with tougher federal ID requirements that will take effect in 2020.Officials with the state Taxation and Revenue Department say people have just over a year to meet the deadline under the Real ID Act, which was passed in 2005 to strengthen rules for identification for airline flights and at federal facilities such as military bases.With the one-millionth license issued last week, about 70 percent of New Mexico licenses and identification cards now carry the gold star that marks them as being Real ID-compliant.New Mexico began issuing the credentials in November 2016 as part of a two-tier system that also allows for IDs that do not meet the tougher standards to be issued.


New Mexico airports to get nearly $14M in federal funds(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's airports will get millions of dollars in federal aid for maintenance and other projects.The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded more than $13 million in funding to be used at 16 airports in the state.New Mexico's congressional delegation including U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich made the announcement Friday.The funds will help with critical improvements, construction and other repairs.Officials say the largest projects in need are in Dona Ana County, Lea County and the Four Corners region.Dona Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa will get nearly $5 million to rebuild part of an existing area.Heinrich says the money will help modernize the state's smaller airports.___


Police: 4 found dead in waterway near US-Mexico borderEL PASO, Texas (AP) — Authorities in Texas say four men have been found dead in an irrigation canal that funnels water from the Rio Grande to farmers in southern New Mexico and west Texas.Police in El Paso, Texas, say three were found dead by Border Patrol agents in a tunnel adjoining a section of the canal that runs along the U.S.-Mexico border. An additional body washed up on the bank the same canal hours later, upstream, on the border of New Mexico and Texas.Police say the body of the 4th suspected drowning victim was reported by the New Mexico Water District. They do not suspect foul play in either incident and have not identified the names or nationalities of the victims.The canals were flooded two weeks ago in an annual reservoir release, with higher snowmelt supplying more water. U.S. Customs and Border Protection say single adult migrant crossings have doubled in the area since last year.


New Mexico seeks public input on Volkswagen settlement funds(Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials are giving the public a chance to weigh in on how to spend settlement money connected to the Volkswagen smog device emissions scandal.The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that the state Environmental Department has opened the public comment period for a proposal on divvying up the funds.The state was awarded $18 million in 2017 after the Volkswagen Group of American acknowledged rigging 11 million of its vehicles with software used to cheat on vehicle emissions tests.Environmental regulators say some of the VW vehicles emitted up to 40 times the allowed levels of unhealthy nitrous oxides when on the road.Under the current plan, the state is recommending the money go toward helping local governments buy alternative-fueled vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations.___


Latino civil rights group faults UNM on Hispanic hiringALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico chapter of the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the U.S. is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate hiring practices at the University of New Mexico.The New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens endorsed Saturday a resolution asking the state attorney general, state auditor and U.S. Justice Department to look into how the state's flagship university is hiring administrators.New Mexico LULAC Executive Director Ralph Arellanes says University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes did not follow through on promises to include Latinos on search committees for key positions. He has also faulted the university for not hiring Hispanics from New Mexico.University of New Mexico spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair says the school adheres to state and federal laws in its hiring practices.