KUNM

Border Agency Picks Finalists To Design Wall, New Mexico Will Get Budget Boost From Oil Leases

May 13, 2017

Border Agency Says It Has Picked Finalists To Design Wall Associated Press

The federal government says it has settled on finalists to design President Donald Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico, but it won't identify them.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Friday that it will notify finalists over the next several days. It won't say how many there are, but it has said previously that it would pick up to 20.

An agency document released last month by Senate Democrats says authorities plan to select winners by June 14 to build prototypes in San Diego on a short stretch of land near the Otay Mesa border crossing with Mexico.

Building a wall on the Mexican border was a cornerstone of Trump's presidential campaign and a flash point for his detractors. A stopgap measure to fund the government through September doesn't provide money for construction.

New Mexico Will Get Budget Boost From Oil Leases - Associated Press

New Mexico state finances are likely to get a $70 million boost this month after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management rejected environmental protests over oil and gas lease sales.

In an email obtained Friday, the Bureau of Land Management says the state's share of sale proceeds from a batch of oil leases in southeastern New Mexico should be available by the end of May.

The money would ease financial pressure on New Mexico state government amid a budget crisis. The state is struggling to conserve cash as Gov. Susana Martinez contemplates unpaid furloughs for state workers.

The Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians have expressed numerous environmental concerns about drilling operations under the leases.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and other New Mexico congressional delegates had urged the BLM to resolve the protests quickly.

Delegation Makes Nominations For US Attorney, Marshal - Associated Press

Members of the state's congressional delegation have nominated a former federal prosecutor and a current one as candidates to serve as the next U.S. attorney in New Mexico.

Democrat Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Republican Rep. Steve Pearce also nominated State Police Chief Pete Kassetas and three others for the U.S. marshal's post.

The names are included in letters sent by the delegation to President Donald Trump. The letters were made public late Thursday.

Nominated for U.S. attorney are John Anderson, a former assistant U.S. attorney now practicing law for a Santa Fe firm, and assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Federici.

Aside from Kassetas, the list for marshal includes Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal James Burrell; FBI supervisory special agent Sonya Chavez and supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Larry Harper.

As Trump Seeks Billions For Wall, US Still Paying For Fence - Associated Press

As President Donald Trump tries to persuade a skeptical Congress to fund his proposed multi-billion dollar wall on the Mexican border, government lawyers are still settling claims with Texas landowners over a border fence approved more than a decade ago.

Two settlements were completed just this week.

The legal battles over the stop-and-start fence covering just one-third of the border have outlasted two presidents.

Depending on what kind of wall the government now decides to build, it might have to take hundreds more landowners to court.

US Rig Count Rises 8 This Week To 885; Texas Up 8 - Associated Press

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by eight this week to 885.

A year ago, only 406 rigs were active amid a slump in energy prices.

Houston oil field services company Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 712 rigs sought oil and 172 explored for natural gas this week. One was listed as miscellaneous.

Texas added eight rigs while Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio and Wyoming each added one.

Oklahoma declined by two rigs while Alaska and New Mexico each lost one.

Arkansas, California, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out last May at 404.