Wednesday News Roundup: Oil, Gas Boom Boosts Earnings In NM

Jan 8, 2014

Oil, Gas Boom Boosts Earnings In NM- The Associated Press

An oil and gas boom in New Mexico and more than a dozen new renewable energy projects have translated into record earnings for the State Land Office.

Land Commissioner Ray Powell announced Wednesday his office brought in more than $670 million in 2013 for public schools, hospitals and other beneficiaries.

December alone marked a record month for the agency, with more than $79 million from oil and gas royalties and revenues from grazing, rights of way and other leases.

Powell says the lion's share of the revenue is the result of high oil and gas prices and increased volume.

If prices remain high and developers continue drilling through June, officials say the state would be on track to break the last fiscal year's earnings by as much as $100 million.

NM Priest Kicked Out Of Jesuits Order - The Associated Press A priest who was removed from New Mexico following prayer vigils outside of Los Alamos National Laboratory has been kicked out of the Jesuits order.

John Dear said Tuesday in a National Catholic Reporter column that he and the Society of Jesus clashed over his peace activism and philosophical disagreements.

Dear says Santa Fe Archbishop Michael Sheehan removed him from his priestly faculties three years ago after his prayer vigils outside Los Alamos. Dear says he was ordered to leave New Mexico for Baltimore, and later was encouraged to leave the society.

Dear has since returned to New Mexico but doesn't have an assignment.

The Very Rev. James Shea, provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, told The Associated Press that Dear was dismissed last month after an "extended period of dialogue" regarding his ministerial assignment.

Albuquerque Attorney Enters GOP Race For AG The Associated PressAn Albuquerque attorney has entered the race to replace Attorney General Gary King.

Jim Baiamonte Wednesday announced his intentions, becoming the first Republican candidate for the seat also being sought by Democratic State Auditor Hector Balderas.

King is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Susana Martinez.

Baiamonte says he is a lifelong New Mexico resident and army veteran who practices criminal, family and civil law.

He says he running because the state has suffered "under too many Attorney Generals who have developed a 'do-nothing' approach." He says New Mexico needs genuine leadership and a commitment to doing the job correctly.


Defense Secretary Hagel To Make Stops In Texas, New Mexico - The Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is set to visit Texas and New Mexico.

On Wednesday, Hagel will first stop at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to visit with wounded veterans, hospital workers and staff. At noon CST, he will speak at the Center for the Intrepid, thanking service members for their care and support of wounded troops.

Later Wednesday, Hagel will travel to Albuquerque and tour the Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland Air Force Base to receive briefings on the modernization, safety and security of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Report Cites Management For Lab Security Delays - The Associated Press

A new report blames management weaknesses for delays and cost overruns in what was supposed to be a $213 million security system at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The report from the Department of Energy's Inspector General says the problems delayed completion nearly a year and resulted in $41 million in cost overruns.

Problems with the system for protecting the only place in the country where nuclear weapon triggers can be made were made public last year.

At the time, lab director Charlie McMillan called performance on the project "unacceptable" and said it had damaged the lab's credibility. But he emphasized the plutonium facilities were never compromised.

The IG report Tuesday says the National Nuclear Security Administration now has taken the necessary action to hold contractors responsible for the problems.

Legislative Panel To Consider Gambling Compact - The Associated Press

New Mexico lawmakers are getting an early start on their work for the upcoming session of the Legislature.

A legislative panel is scheduled next Monday to review a proposed gambling compact that would allow the Navajo Nation to operate five casinos.

The Legislature convenes a week later on Jan. 21 for a 30-day session.

The gambling compact ran into criticism last year from other tribes, and the full Legislature didn't vote on whether to approve it.

The Legislative Committee on Compacts can't change the proposed agreement but could ask the governor's office and the state's largest Indian tribe to renegotiate some provisions.

The Navajos operate two Las Vegas-style casinos under a compact expiring in 2015.

The new compact would permit the state to collect more revenue from casino proceeds.

NM Gun Shop Owner, Parents Enter Pleas In Fed Case - The Associated Press

A Hobbs gun shop owner and his parents have pleaded guilty to violations of federal firearms laws.

Prosecutors say 31-year-old Carlos Jonathan Cruz, 60-year-old Carlos Carlon Cruz and 56-year-old Norma M. Cruz entered their pleas Tuesday.

Carlos Jonathan Cruz is the owner of Hobbs Satellite Company Guns & Ammo.

Prosecutors say the trio twice made false statements in the acquisition of firearms by a person acting as a "straw purchaser" and buying firearms on behalf of others last April.

Carlos Jonathan Cruz also was accused of unlawfully selling thousands of rounds of ammunition, possessing an unregistered sawed-off shot gun and possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers.

Prosecutors say plea agreements require Cruz and his parents to serve prison time and forfeit about 165 firearms and some 25,000 rounds of ammunition.

Man Barricaded In NM Home Dies After Long Standoff - The Associated Press

A man who has barricaded himself in a home outside the small community of Moriarty and shot at law enforcement officers and a police helicopter is dead.

Torrance County Sheriff's officials confirmed the death Tuesday night, but it's still unclear if he was shot by authorities or took his own life.

The man's name hasn't been released yet.

Deputies had cordoned off the rural area with the help of New Mexico State Police after the standoff started Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities haven't released any details about what might have sparked the SWAT situation.

Despite the gunshots, authorities say no officers were hurt.

Nearby Mountain View Elementary was locked down as a precaution, but school officials say parents were contacted and students were let out of school at the normal time.