- Oil companies lock in drilling, challenging Biden on climate
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — In the closing months of the Trump administration, energy companies stockpiled enough drilling permits for western public lands to keep pumping oil for years. That stands to undercut President-elect Joe Biden's plans to block new drilling on public lands to address climate change. An Associated Press analysis of government data shows the permit stockpiling has centered on oil-rich federal lands in New Mexico and Wyoming and accelerated in September and October as Biden was cementing his lead over President Donald Trump. The industry was aided by speedier permitting approvals since Trump took office.
- New Mexico reports 1,507 additional virus cases, 22 deaths
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico on Saturday announced 1,507 additional known COVID-19 cases and 22 more deaths, increasing the state's totals during the pandemic to 154,954 cases and 2,732 deaths. Bernalillo, Dona Ana, San Juan and Santa Fe had triple-digit numbers of additional cases. The additional deaths were spread among 12 counties. The state on Friday expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to people 75 and older as well as residents with underlying medical conditions placing them at greater risk. The expanded list under what is known as Phase 1B also includes front-line essential workers who can't work remotely and certain vulnerable populations
- Navajo Nation reports 237 new COVID-19 cases, 22 more deaths
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 237 new coronavirus cases and 22 more deaths. The latest figures released Friday evening increased the tribe's totals since the pandemic began to 24,776 cases and 866 known deaths. Reports of some of the new deaths were delayed. The Navajo Nation started a weekend lockdown Friday night that extends until 5 a.m. on Monday. All Navajo Nation residents are required to stay at home unless they are essential workers or have an emergency. The weekend lockdowns extend through Jan. 25.
- Nebraska bid to attract Space Command includes $107 million
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska's bid to attract the U.S. Space Command's headquarters to Offutt Air Force Base includes $107 million of public and private money. Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce President David Brown, who is one of the backers of the proposal, said last week that the local money is meant to help offset the roughly $1 billion cost of building the new headquarters. Offutt is one of the six finalists to become the headquarters. Other finalists are Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, Redstone Army Airfield in Alabama and the former Kelly Air Force Base in Texas.
- New Mexico's top state Senate Democrat outlines priorities
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top-ranked state senator says Democrats will push for direct financial relief to low-income, front-line workers who have borne the brunt of the pandemic during the upcoming legislative session. The idea already is popular among minority Republican legislators. Democratic Senate majority leader Peter Wirth said Friday that pandemic relief efforts are likely to take center stage at the outset of the 60-day session that begins Jan. 19. Wirth also is outlining new details of a push to channel more money each year toward public education. A political shift among Senate Democrats also may lead to more progressive tax rates.
- New Mexico Supreme Court overturns child abuse convictions
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has overturned the child abuse convictions of an Albuquerque man in the 2015 death of an infant who had multiple bruises on his head and body. A divided court ruled there wasn't enough evidence to support Christopher Garcia's convictions, saying prosecutors failed to prove that the 14-month-old boy would not have died absent the defendant's failure to seek medical care. The ruling raised immediate concerns for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. He said New Mexico is already one of the most dangerous states in the U.S. for children, and the ruling will make it more difficult to hold child abusers accountable.
- Officials tour possible Space Command site in Albuquerque
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Air Force officials have toured the grounds of Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque to evaluate the site as a possible location for the U.S. Space Command. The Albuquerque Journal reported that strategic basing officials during the Thursday tour focused primarily on infrastructure at the base to house the Space Command, the latest of 11 unified commands under the U.S. Department of Defense. Kirtland is one of six locations being considered. If chosen, it is expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to Albuquerque. Assistant Air Force Secretary John Henderson said the department expects to announce its "preferred" location later this month.
- Lawyers: New Mexico trying to comply with education needs
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lawyers for the state say the New Mexico Public Education Department is working with school districts and internet providers to expand broadband access in rural areas struggling with remote learning. In a response filed in court this week, they also said school funding hasn't been cut since the pandemic started. The filing comes after plaintiffs in a landmark education lawsuit argued that the state's attempts to provide internet access and learning devices were "woefully insufficient." They are seeking to force the state to connect more children to online learning by identifying students who lack laptops or tablets and providing internet vouchers for at-risk households.