Vote Recounts Uphold Original Results In ABQ, EPA Rejects $20.4 Million In Requests For Spill

Dec 10, 2016

Vote Recounts Uphold Original Results In New MexicoAssociated Press

Recounts in three New Mexico legislative races have been completed without overturning the original results.

The New Mexico Secretary of State's Office on Friday announced victories by incumbent Democratic Sen. John Sapien of Corrales, GOP Rep. David Adkins of Albuquerque and Democratic challenger Daymon Ely of Corralles.

Ely defeated Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco by 105 votes. Adkins won the recount by just nine votes against Ronnie Martinez. Sapien won by 190 votes over Diego Espinoza. The recount results are awaiting final certification.

Democrats won control of the Legislature by overtaking the GOP in the House of Representatives and defending a Senate majority. Democrats will outnumber Republicans 26-16 in the Senate and 38-32 in the House of Representatives.

EPA Rejects $20.4 Million In Requests For Mine Spill CostsAssociated Press

The Environmental Protection Agency says it will pay $4.5 million to state, local and tribal governments for their emergency response to a mine spill that the EPA triggered, but the agency turned down $20.4 million in other requests for past and future expenses.

The EPA provided the figures Friday to The Associated Press, a day after informing two Indian tribes and more than a dozen state and local agencies in Colorado and New Mexico.

An EPA-led crew accidently released 3 million gallons of wastewater from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado while doing preliminary cleanup work in 2015. Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were polluted.

Reimbursements for costs have been contentious. Some governments complain the EPA won't pay for legitimate expenses.

The EPA says it's following the law.

Proximity Of Oil And Gas Parcels To Chaco Park Spur ProtestAssociated Press

Environmentalists are challenging plans by federal land managers to lease four parcels in northwestern New Mexico for oil and gas development, saying the property is too close to Chaco Cultural National Historical Park.

The world heritage site and its outlying archaeological remnants have become the focus of the fight over expanded drilling in one of the nation's largest natural gas fields as environmentalists push to curtail development in the region.

The Bureau of Land Management has already established a 10-mile buffer around the park.

Environmentalists say the parcels in question — which cover less than two square miles — are near the homes of Navajo residents and within 20 miles of the park.

BLM officials in Farmington said they will review the protest.

The next lease sale is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Navajo Nation Approves Police, Fire Substation Near Casino Associated Press

The Navajo Nation is planning to build a police and fire station at its Twin Arrows Casino Resort near Flagstaff.

The Gallup Independent reports that a Navajo Nation Council committee has approved legislation related to the funding and construction of the substation. Delegates expect that construction will break ground in January and be finished by October.

Gaming Enterprise Executive Director of Compliance Michelle Dotson says all environmental, archaeological and biological clearances needed for the station's construction have been completed. The 15,000 square foot building will include a 911 dispatch room, a three-bay fire truck garage, sleeping quarters, administrative offices and training rooms.

Proposal To Increase Media Access To Court Records Advances Associated Press

A New Mexico Supreme Court panel has advanced a proposal that would expand online access for court records for the media.

The Supreme Court-appointed subcommittee on Thursday voted to recommend the proposal, which would allow attorneys, certain criminal justice workers, people representing themselves in civil court and the press would qualify to access un-redacted court records through a secured online system.

Those interested in the online access would have to apply for login information and credentials through the Judicial Information Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The proposal now goes to the Judicial Information System Council, another Supreme Court-appointed group that will discuss the proposal at its Dec. 15 meeting. If that group advances the proposal it will go to the state Supreme Court justices for approval.

Ruling Ends New Mexico County's Effort To Combat Fire Danger Associated Press

An appellate court has dashed any hopes one southern New Mexico county had to address fire danger on national forest lands due to the inaction of the federal government.

A 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Denver found that Otero County's resolution to treat overgrown areas of the Lincoln National Forest along with a state statute enabling counties to take action under certain circumstances conflicted with federal law.

The judges said the case was a question of constitutional power and that federal law pre-empted the state law and the county's resolution.

New Mexico enacted the law in 2001, after a prescribed fire on federal land forced the evacuation of the mountain community of Los Alamos. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and the national lab there was temporarily closed.

State Police To Close 2 Dispatch Centers, Lay Off 11 Associated Press

The New Mexico Department of Public Safety is closing two dispatch centers and laying off 11 dispatchers as it moves toward a more streamlined system for handling emergency calls.

KRQE-TV reports that a communications center in Alamogordo will close Feb. 3 and one in Roswell will close in April.

Calls that would have gone to those two centers will be routed to Las Cruces. Las Cruces is one of three regional dispatch hubs that will eventually be able to handle all radio and telephone traffic for DPS agencies statewide.

Officials say the hubs, located in Las Vegas, Albuquerque and Las Cruces, will have updated dispatch systems that can field calls and send them to units anywhere in the state.