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

Jun 10, 2021

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top information technology official says a new $100 million state account for expanding access to high-speed internet is just a start and that investments of $1 billion are likely needed to modernize infrastructure. In a presentation to legislators on Thursday, Information Technology Secretary John Salazar said that international consultant Deloitte is helping the state anticipate opportunities for federal grants to improve internet access and data transfer rates. A nationwide search is underway for an administrator to guide New Mexico's expansion of high-speed internet. The COVID-19 pandemic and a year-long pivot to online learning have exposed gaps in internet service.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico oil and gas regulators have revised state rules to make it unlawful for drillers to spill liquid waste. The Oil Conservation Commission adopted the changes Thursday, a day after hearing testimony from environmentalists, industry representatives and residents. The changes stem from a joint proposal by the state's energy agency and the environmental group WildEarth Guardians. Before now, New Mexico — one of the top producing states in the U.S. — did not have a rule barring operators from spilling oil and other byproducts from hydraulic fracturing. Instead, companies had to report the spill and then work with the state to clean it up.


ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Severe flooding in eastern New Mexico has prompted Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to declare states of emergency in Lincoln and Chaves counties. The governor issued her executive orders Wednesday. State officials say the flooding that began over the Memorial Day weekend continues to threaten public safety and critical infrastructure. The declarations will free up $1.5 million for the counties to use for repairs and to prevent more damage. Local officials say a levee near Roswell was overwhelmed by heavy rain over the holiday weekend and that water had breached the levee in at least two locations.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.