Protest period opens for proposed Greater Chaco drilling

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The federal government is proceeding with plans for a December auction of oil and gas drilling leases on thousands of acres of land in the Greater Chaco region. A comment period on the proposal opened today and will continue through October 31, despite a pending Senate bill that would protect the area, and without a cultural review and consultation promised by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Miya King-Flaherty, organizer with the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, said the government is violating its own procedures by not having a resource management plan in place. “They’re not following their own rules,” King-Flaherty said; “they’re really just rubber-stamping these drilling permits while not giving the thorough analysis that they are mandated to do.” New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have introduced legislation to protect the greater Chaco region.

NM Environment Review: Cannon AFB, Santolina and more

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:
You’ve heard about the groundwater contamination at Kirtland Air Force Base, where jet fuel leaked for decades into Albuquerque’s aquifer. Now, there’s another problem at an Air Force base—this time at Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico.

New Mexico ranked the least politically engaged state in the nation

According to Wallethub, New Mexico lags behind the rest of the nation when it comes to political engagement. The website ranked all 50 states, and the District of Columbia, on political engagement, and New Mexico finished in last place. It and Hawaii, which finished in 50th, were well behind the rest of the states. Washington D.C. led the pack, followed by Maine and Utah. New Mexico’s problems largely come from the low percentage of registered voters and relatively low voter turnout in the 2016 elections.

NM Elections Roundup: Three weeks to Election Day

The NM Elections Roundup comes out every Tuesday morning through email. The following is an excerpt from this week’s email. To get the full version each week, including a look at the ads on the air, sign up here. The Associated Press reported that Republican candidate Steve Pearce invested millions of dollars in companies that lease equipment for oil and gas exploration. One of those companies, Trinity Industries, was previously described as renting party equipment.

Report voting, ballot access programs through Electionland

Report voting, ballot access programs through Electionland

In 2016, ProPublica partnered with newsrooms around the country to tell the story of voting experiences. ProPublica is doing it again this year, and this time NM Political Report is a partner. The project focused on the problems people had when trying to vote—from long lines to harassment, to finding out your name is not on voting rolls and anything else that impacted casting your ballot.The project relies on regular citizens to be the eyes and ears on the ground—which is where you come in. To help out, sign up by texting VOTE to 81380. Or you can reach out on WhatsApp at +1 850 909-8683, Facebook Messenger at http://m.me/electionland or tweeting @Electionland.

Democrats hold big cash advantages in federal races

While Democrats led the way in fundraising in the latest quarter, federal campaign finance reports filed Monday show, one candidate considerably outraised the rest. NM Political Report first reported that Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat seeking the 2nd Congressional District seat, raised over $1.9 million yesterday. Her fundraising total was $650,000 more than all three candidates for U.S. Senate combined raised in that same time period. Torres Small spent over $1.3 million and finished with $1.1 million cash on hand for the final few weeks of the race. Her opponent, Republican State Rep. Yvette Herrell, raised $564,000 and spent $245,000, leaving her with $419,000 cash on hand for the final stretch.

NM Environment Review: Climate change and NM’s future

This week, we shared the entire NM Environment Review online. Next week, we’ll return to sharing only a snippet on the website and saving the rest for subscribers to the weekly email. To ensure you don’t miss out, sign up here. 
Let’s face it: there’s only one story this week. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report Monday detailing the serious need for action on climate change. As we reported Wednesday, the IPCC noted that if humans don’t drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade, we will not stop warming that’s expected to have widespread and catastrophic impacts upon the Earth’s ecosystems.
National papers, magazines and television programs covered the report, which includes a summary for policymakers.

Obamacare premiums dip for first time. Some call it a correction.

After two years of double-digit price hikes, the average premium for individual health coverage on the federal health law’s insurance marketplace will drop by 1.5 percent for 2019, the Trump administration said Thursday. The announcement  marked the first time average premiums have fallen since the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014. It also comes during a bitter midterm congressional campaign season in which health care is a central issue following last year’s efforts by Republicans to repeal the ACA. Administration officials claimed credit for the price drop, saying it was due to their actions to make changes to the law. Health policy experts said it was a reaction to insurers’ huge profits following hefty premium increases on plans offered this year.

NM Elections Roundup: Campaign cash and ‘bull___t’

The NM Elections Roundup comes out every Tuesday morning through email. The following is an excerpt from this week’s email. To get the full version each week, including a look at the ads on the air, sign up here. Michelle Lujan Grisham once again outraised and outspent Steve Pearce in the race for governor. But Pearce has more cash on hand for the final for weeks of the campaign, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

Poll: Martinez approval rating remains low; Senators’ tick up

Susana Martinez will be leaving office in three months, and she remains unpopular among New Mexico voters according to a recent poll. Meanwhile, the state’s two U.S. Senators still have more support than opposition, but their approval ratings remain under 50 percent. Martinez’s approval rating stand at 36 percent among registered New Mexico voters according to Morning Consult, while her disapproval rating is at 54 percent. This is barely changed from numbers released in July. The Republican governor’s disapproval rating remains sixth-highest among all governors.