Clouds don’t deter eclipse-watchers in downtown Albuquerque

We knew that all the other Albuquerque news outlets would be out and about as the eclipse began, but we still wanted to see how people reacted to the celestial event today. (Also, neither of us had glasses, so watching people, as opposed to the sky, was our only real option to join the excitement.)

We took a stroll through downtown Albuquerque to check out how people were reacting to the solar eclipse. And even though the skies were mostly cloudy, there was something heartening about seeing people streaming out of buildings, laughing, sharing glasses and taking a break from work and school to be outside, together, staring at the sky.

Trump has broad power to block climate change report

Earlier this month, someone involved in the government’s latest report on climate change provided The New York Times with a copy of the version submitted to the Trump administration for final approval. The main intent of the leak, according to several people tracking the report, was to complicate any attempt to suppress the study or water down its findings. Publication of the document inflamed an already-fraught debate about climate change. Administration officials and Republican lawmakers accused the leaker and journalists of manufacturing a dispute. They said the report, which was required by law, was moving through a normal process of White House review.

Augustin Plains Ranch order released, meetings scheduled on controversial water project

A few weeks ago, we reported on a proposal by Augustin Plains Ranch, LLC to build a pipeline and pump 54,000 acre-feet of water each year from the aquifer to the Albuquerque area. The 37 wells would all be in Catron County near the town of Datil. Now in its third iteration, the application is pending before the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, which administers the state’s water resources. In July, the state agency canceled a pre-hearing meeting. But last week, it released the application’s scheduling order, which includes information about the project and the process, as well as upcoming public meetings.

New numbers from the state on revenue, reserves

Earlier today, we reported about New Mexico’s dipping reserves. In Fiscal Year 2016, the reserve fund was at $146 million, and in Fiscal Year 2017, New Mexico was $67 million in the red. Now, the Legislative Finance Committee has released its revenue forecast for the state. Among the report’s highlights:

Preliminary FY 2017 ending reserve balances are $329 million. Projected FY 2018 ending reserve balances are $206 million.

Deadline looms on Zinke’s National Monument recommendations

New Mexico may learn next week if the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument will be reduced in size by the U.S. Interior Department. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been working toward an August 24 deadline to make his recommendations to President Donald Trump. Monument designations can work against increased energy development on public lands, which runs counter to a key Trump administration goal. Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project, thinks the monument review is the first step in a broader push for more drilling on public lands that will bypass what local residents want. “Really, all of these monuments that we’re talking about are places that have economies that have built up around them, that have communities that support them and want them,” he explains.

A day after Charlottesville white supremacist rally, county GOP chair blames ‘leftists,’ ‘Soros’ for violence

After a white supremacist rally in Virginia, during which a woman was killed and over a dozen people injured, a Republican Party county chairman lashed out at “leftists” and George Soros. A now-deleted statement on the Facebook page of the Doña Ana Republican Party attributed to chairman Roman Jimenez blamed “leftist protesters” for violence and said “they’re getting exactly what they asked for.”

Republican Party of New Mexico chairman Ryan Cangiolosi said on Twitter he “fully repudiates Jimenez’s statement, which does not reflect the views of the RPNM or the Repub Party of Doña Ana County.” Here is the full statement from Jimenez:
These violent, leftist protesters are the brainless robots that are created by evil Soros money. The white ones have been taught to hate their color, the women are taught to hate men, black and minorities want to kill whites and police. They then have the audacity to call conservatives racist.

The week in review: Education, judge rules on vetoes and drought persists

We know how tough it is to keep up with all the news every week, especially in recent months. Here’s a list of the stories that appeared on NM Political Report this week that you can catch up on this weekend—before the news cycle starts all over again next week. This week, we highlighted education stories:

Education plan could result in closure, takeover of some schools by Andy Lyman: A dive into an education plan the federal government approved and how it could lead to school closures or the conversion of public schools to charter schools. Judge rules ten Martinez vetoes invalid, says they will become law by Matthew Reichbach: Gov. Susana Martinez saw another court setback with the judge’s ruling that she failed to validly veto ten bills, paving the way for them to become law. Confusion over DOI Secretary’s decision on land transfer by Laura Paskus: After an announcement by the U.S. Interior Department, some reported a land transfer to open up a wilderness area was going forward.

Gov. Susana Martinez

Judge rules ten Martinez vetoes invalid, says they will become law

A judge ruled that ten of Gov. Susana Martinez vetoes from this year’s legislative session were invalid–and ordered that the bills become law. Earlier this year, the Legislature sued the governor, arguing she failed to follow the state constitution by not providing an explanation of her vetoes. Judge Sarah Singleton in the 1st Judicial District Court made the decision Friday. “We’re disappointed in this decision because there is no question the governor vetoed these bills,” spokesman Joseph Cueto said in an email Friday afternoon. “It’s telling how some in the legislature love running to the courts when they know they don’t have the support to override a veto.”

Re-introducing our statewide environment wrap-up

With summertime in the rearview mirror, we’re shifting gears at NM Political Report. Every Thursday, I’ll be sending out a review of environmental news around the state to a new email list. Subscribe below to receive the full email each Thursday! It’s just one email a week, with a New Mexico photo-of-the-week and information about upcoming public meetings and comment periods. #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:100%;} /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.

Confusion over DOI Secretary’s decision on land transfer

The U.S. Department of the Interior issued a press release about Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recent visit to the Sabinoso Wilderness in northern New Mexico—and a land transfer that would allow the federal government to open up a “landlocked” wilderness area to the public. The announcement left many involved with the issue confused. That’s because the secretary didn’t say he was denying or approving the land transfer. Rather, he said he “intend(s) to finalize the process to consider whether to accept” the donation of 3,595 acres of private land. In other words, he would start the process of making a decision.