Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

Jul 11, 2019

FCC approves priority window for tribes to expand broadbandFLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission has approved a priority filing window for tribes to obtain licenses that could boost internet service in rural communities.The commission voted 3-2 Wednesday in favor of the filing window for federally recognized tribes.The 2.5 Ghz-band of spectrum largely is unassigned in the U.S. West and is seen as key to expanding 5G access.The licenses could help tribes establish or expand broadband coverage in underserved areas. Tribally owned entities, including colleges and universities, also would be given priority for licenses.The filing window for tribes could open as early as December. The remaining spectrum would be auctioned off for commercial use.The FCC vote also removed the educational use requirement for the spectrum. The changes won't affect existing license holders.


Forest official upholds cancellation of grazing permitALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A regional official with the U.S. Forest Service has upheld the cancellation of a grazing permit belonging to a New Mexico rancher who killed an endangered Mexican gray wolf.Southwest Regional Forester Calvin Joyner outlined his decision in a letter last week.Craig Thiessen had appealed after the permit was revoked in November, saying he had no livelihood without his cattle grazing in Gila National Forest.Thiessen pleaded guilty last year to knowingly taking threatened wildlife. The 10-month-old wolf pup was fatally struck by a shovel in February 2015.Fish and Wildlife Service officials said the wolf died of injuries Thiessen inflicted.Thiessen stopped short of admitting to killing the wolf in his plea agreement.There are about 130 Mexican wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona.


New Mexico land office predicts record-high revenueSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Revenues from development on state trust land over the last fiscal year are on track to surpass $1 billion.The New Mexico State Land Office announced Wednesday the total tally has yet to be calculated due to the nature of royalty payment collections but that conservative year-end estimates indicate a record high.Revenues reached $852 million for the 2018 fiscal year. If predictions hold, the 2019 fiscal year will mark a nearly 40% increase.Most of the revenue has come from the oil and gas boom, but the agency also reported increases in commercial lease payments and solar and wind energy leases.Money also is earned from grazing leases, rights of way easements, permits and other fees.The revenue earned from activity on state trust land helps to fund public education, hospitals and other institutions.


New Mexico official sets private prison transfer timelineALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The top prison official in New Mexico says a privately run lock-up that is expected to transfer to state control this year has continuously struggled to maintain staffing numbers.The comment from Corrections Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero during a legislative hearing this week comes as officials set Aug. 3 as the day when they and the GEO Group will begin the three-month process of transferring the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton to state management.A spokesman for GEO Group, a Florida-based company that currently operates three out of 11 prisons in the state, made the decision to end its contract to run the prison owned by the town of Clayton because of difficulties recruiting and retaining workers.Lucero told lawmakers that the facility was having "a difficult time maintaining safe and reasonable standards," but did not elaborate.


Wyoming warns livestock owners to watch for spreading virus(Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com)CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming is warning livestock owners in the state to be on the lookout for an animal virus spreading in other states.The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that the Vesicular Stomatitis Indiana serotype has recently been found in horses in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan has implemented a 72-hour health certificate requirement on susceptible livestock.The requirement is effective immediately and covers animals imported from any county where VSV has been diagnosed in the previous 30 days.Officials say VSV can affect equine species, cattle, swine, sheep, and goats.Officials say the virus is spread by flies and midges, as well as direct contact with infected livestock.The virus can also spread indirectly through contact with contaminated equipment and tack.___


NTSB: Pilot flew too low, causing New Mexico fatal crashALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A report released this week says investigators found no problems with a helicopter that crashed in New Mexico in January 2018, killing five people including Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett.The National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot apparently caused the fatal wreck by flying too low over mountainous terrain at night.Besides Bennett, his wife Heather, a co-pilot and wealthy businessman also were killed. The businessman's girlfriend who also is the co-pilot's daughter was the sole survivor.Federal investigators previously reported that the fatally injured pilot said he'd flown into terrain and that the accident was his fault.The report did not identify pilot Coleman Dodd by name but New Mexico authorities have said previously that he was the pilot.


New Mexico regulators chart course for coal plant closureALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have decided on a course for how they will handle a major utility case that marks the beginning of the end for coal-fired electricity generation in the state.The state's largest utility, Public Service Co. of New Mexico, recently submitted its application for closing the San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico. The filing includes a mechanism for financing the closure and options for replacing the lost capacity — both elements tied directly to the state's new energy transition law.The Public Regulation Commission on Wednesday voted to split the proceeding into two parts — one for the closure and financing and the other for the replacement power.Commissioners and staff say they expect numerous legal issues to be raised as the effects of any decision will be felt for decades.


Colorado-based power provider now under federal regulation(Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com)DENVER (AP) — A Colorado-based power provider serving four states has voted for the federal government to regulate it.The Denver Post reported Wednesday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will oversee the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and set its electric rates.Tri-State says the move will give it more flexibility than being regulated by four states where it serves electric cooperatives: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nebraska.Colorado lawmakers say they asked for a delay in the decision last week because they wanted more time to determine the implications of the change.A new law requires Colorado regulators to approve Tri-State's plans for where it gets its power, whether from coal or renewable sources.State agencies say their ability to regulate planning, emissions and environmental issues will not change.___