Trump approval ratings in NM remain low, even as his campaign says they might target state in 2020

Even as Donald Trump’s campaign says it may target New Mexico in 2020, his approval in the state remains very low. That’s according to the latest polling from Morning Consult, which releases the presidential approval ratings at the state level each month. This month, Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at just 41 percent, while 56 percent disapprove of his job performance. Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico was 52 percent at the beginning of 2017 and peaked at 59 percent in April of 2017. But his approval rating has been lower than his disapproval rating in every poll since June of 2017.

Air, land and water: NM lawmakers by the numbers

SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico environmental advocates say the state took a step forward during the 2019 legislative session by passing bills that address renewable energy and public health, but is lagging in solar-energy development. Conservation Voters New Mexico has released its statewide Conservation Scorecard for the 2019 Legislature. Liliana Castillo, the group’s communications director, noted that shortly after taking office, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham focused on climate change. Castillo said she believes the executive order to place limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-fuel drilling is in line with residents’ priorities. “New Mexicans across the board really care about protecting our air, land and water and diversifying our economy – the things that people talk about are the most important things, right?

Police watchdog raises concerns over State Police ‘Surge’ in ABQ

A member of Albuquerque’s official police watchdog group is questioning the tactics and results of the recent “Metro Surge Operation,” in which 50 New Mexico State Police officers flooded the city ostensibly to help fight violent crime. “This is the perfect atmosphere, the perfect storm for civil rights violations, and it completely undermines the serious energy people have invested in police reform in Albuquerque,” Chelsea Van Deventer of the Albuquerque Police Oversight Board told New Mexico In Depth last week. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. Homicides and non-fatal shootings have gone up in Albuquerque in recent months, including the high-profile murder of a University of New Mexico baseball player outside a Nob Hill bar last month. In response, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Mayor Tim Keller, both Democrats, agreed on the “surge,” with Keller’s office saying publicly the operation would focus on “targeting violent crime in Albuquerque.”

The results, according to a KOAT-TV story, have not matched the stated goal.

Delegation on Mueller statement, possible impeachment

Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated President Donald Trump, spoke publicly Wednesday morning for the first time since he began the investigation in 2017. In his short statement, he said, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller also said, “the report is my testimony” and that he would not provide any additional information to Congress. After Mueller’s televised statement, NM Political Report asked all three of New Mexico’s members of the House and both U.S. Senators these questions:

Has the Senator/Representative read the full report?Does the Senator/Representative feel that the House should begin impeachment proceedings?If not, why? And what, if any, other steps should be taken?

NM Environment Review: ‘political connections and tax breaks’ + news from around NM

Holtec International was in the news last month when the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied requests from some groups to hold an additional hearing over the company’s license to build an interim storage site in southeastern New Mexico to hold nuclear waste from commercial power plants. The Camden, N.J.-based company is also hoping the NRC will allow it to buy a closed nuclear power plant in the Garden State so “it can decommission it and gain control over an almost $1 billion decommissioning fund,” according to a May 8 story from the Associated Press.   

ProPublica and WNYC have also been looking into the company’s activities. In a story published today, Nancy Solomon and Jeff Pillets report that the company “gave a false answer about being prohibited from working with a federal agency in sworn statements made to win $260 million in taxpayer assistance for a new plant in Camden.”

Also, according to the story:

Holtec’s new factory in Camden is part of a resurgence for the poverty-stricken city pushed by South Jersey Democratic boss George E. Norcross III, who is an unpaid member of Holtec’s board.Norcross’ brother Philip is managing partner at the law firm that represented the company in its EDA application, Parker McCay.Sheehan worked closely with Philip Norcross on the Holtec matter, according to the emails obtained by WNYC and ProPublica. The law firm’s work on behalf of several Camden projects is now under scrutiny.

NM Environment Review: Watching water, PFAS investigation + the militarization of climate change

All week, we look for stories that help New Mexicans better understand what’s happening with water, climate, energy, landscapes and communities around the region. Thursday morning, that news goes out via email. To subscribe to that weekly email, click here. Here’s a snippet of what subscribers read this week:

• Writing for Searchlight New Mexico, April Reese took a look at health concerns from expanded drilling in the northwestern part of the state. • MyHighPlains.com investigates PFAS contamination from Cannon Air Force Base.

NM Environment Review: What do the Rio Grande, Mike Pompeo & student climate activists have in common?

What do they all have in common? Well, they’re smashed into a really full NM Environment Review. So grab a snack and strap on your reading glasses. There is a ton of environmental news this week. Usually, only email subscribers get to read the entire review, but we’re feeling generous this week.

NM Political Report wins four regional awards

NM Political Report won four regional awards at the annual Top of the Rockies contest—including two first place awards. The Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies awards are for the best journalism in the region—Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah. NM Political Report competes in the category against print outlets in the region with circulations between 10,000 and 29,999. Laura Paskus won first place for her story “Federal climate report shows how climate change will impact U.S. economy, infrastructure and more” in the “Science and Technology: General Reporting” category. The judge wrote, “Laura Paskus does an excellent job of explaining a federal report that looks at climate change and its impact on the U.S. economy and infrastructure.

NM Environment Review: Climate change ‘fingerprints’ in the 20th century + news around the state

This week we have a story about a new study in Nature that shows the “fingerprints” of climate change on 20th century drying. Next week, we’ll look at what some local governments in New Mexico are doing to prepare people for the continued impacts of warming. • There are two other recent studies worth checking out, including one in Nature about the risks of hydroclimate regime shifts in the western United States and another in Earth’s Future, published by the American Geological Union, about adaptation to water shortages caused by population growth and climate change. • Rebecca Moss with the Santa Fe New Mexican reports on the lack of progress on safety concerns at Los Alamos National Laboratory. • The Carlsbad Current Argus’s Adrien Hedden reports on New Mexico State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard’s executive order to create a “buffer zone” around Chaco Canyon. The order enacts a moratorium on oil and gas leasing on 72,776 acres of state trust lands in the area. • Writing for High Country News, Nick Bowlin covers a judge’s ruling that reinstates the valuation rule, which the Trump administration repealed. We wrote about those changes in 2017, after the first time a judge ruled that the U.S. broke the law when “updating” how royalties are calculated on federal and tribal lands.

NM Political Report wins eight statewide awards

NM Political Report won eight awards at the annual New Mexico Press Women’s Communications Contest, including one first place award. The number of awards put NM Political Report in second place in the organization’s Sweepstakes contest, which assigned points for each entry that won or placed in the competition. Laura Paskus won first place in the Specialty Articles – Green/Environmental category for her story “Federal climate report shows how climate change will impact U.S. economy, infrastructure and more.” The story examined a federal report on the climate from a New Mexico perspective. The story from November of last year is part of NM Political Report’s full-time environment coverage. Paskus also won second-place in the Continuing Covering or Unfolding News category for her coverage of the Texas v. New Mexico Supreme Court case.