Has the moment for environmental justice been lost?

Given how President Donald Trump has taken aim at the Environmental Protection Agency with regulatory rollbacks and deep proposed budget cuts, it may come as no surprise that the Office of Environmental Justice is on the chopping block. This tiny corner of the EPA was established 24 years ago to advocate for minorities and the poor, populations most likely to face the consequences of pollution and least able to advocate for themselves. It does so by acting as a middleman, connecting vulnerable communities with those who can help them. It heads a group that advises EPA officials about injustices and another that brings together representatives from other federal agencies and the White House to swap proposals. When it works, all the talk leads to grants, policies and programs that change lives.

Poll: Trump’s job performance scores low among New Mexicans

President Donald Trump’s approval rating in New Mexico after his first few months in office is among the lowest in the nation. That’s according to newly-released results from Gallup, the venerable polling service that releases daily national poll numbers on Trump’s approval rating. In New Mexico, Trump’s approval rating sits at 37 percent, while 56 percent disapprove of Trump’s job performance. That approval rating is the 11th-lowest of any state, tied with Rhode Island. Nationwide in the same time period, between Trump’s inauguration and Junde 30, 40 percent of adults approved of Trump’s job performance while 54 percent disapproved.

Obamacare exchanges in limbo

California’s Obamacare exchange scrubbed its annual rate announcement this week, the latest sign of how the ongoing political drama over the Affordable Care Act is roiling insurance markets nationwide. The exchange, Covered California, might not wrap up negotiations with insurers and announce 2018 premiums for its 1.4 million customers until mid-August — about a month later than usual. Similar scenarios are playing out across the country as state officials and insurers demand clarity on health care rules and funding, with deadlines fast approaching for the start of open enrollment this fall. “It’s insane,” said John Baackes, CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan, which has about 26,000 customers on the California exchange. “Here we are in the middle of July and we don’t even know what rules we will be operating under for open enrollment.

A Moral Choice: As pressure mounts, faith sustains veteran ABQ doctor who performs third-trimester abortions

If Curtis Boyd lives by one professional mantra, it’s this: Unless a woman has full autonomy over her body, she lacks full citizenship and lives instead as a second-class citizen. The controversial and celebrated abortion provider explains this thoughtfully on a hot, dry Fourth of July day in his Albuquerque office. A wiry man of 80 years, Boyd wears a gray surgical gown and says he’s working the holiday because the type of procedure that his clinic, Southwestern Women’s Options, is known for requires multiple days. The clinic sits near I-25 on Lomas Boulevard, a crowded east-west thoroughfare on the edge of downtown Albuquerque. Across the street looms a pink billboard paid for by the group Prolife Across America.

NM national monuments remain under threat from DOI

TAOS, N.M. — New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments could shrink dramatically if their protected status is removed or their size is reduced, and the decisions could come by late August. A report from Democrats on the U.S. Joint Economic Committee warns that could mean a loss of millions of tourism dollars in New Mexico. Stuart Wilde guides tourists on llama treks through the Rio Grande monument near Taos. He said he agrees that the economic impact would be significant. “People come to hike and bike, and fish and hunt, and camp and experience these national monuments,” Wilde said.

NM’s secretary of state won’t release voter information to Trump’s voter commission

While she hasn’t yet received a written request to do so, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver pledged Friday to not release voter information to President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission, which is asking for copies of every state’s voter roll data as well as personal information including military status and the final four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers if included in the data, sent letters to all 50 states

“I will never release the personally identifiable information of New Mexico voters protected by law, including their social security number and birthdate,” Toulouse Oliver said Friday in a prepared statement. “Further, I will not release any other voter information like names, addresses or voting history unless and until I am convinced the information will not be used for nefarious or unlawful purposes, and only if I am provided a clear plan for how it will be secured.”

Toulouse Oliver previously criticized the commission as “a Trojan Horse used to justify partisan efforts making it harder to vote.”

NM Political Report asked Gov. Susana Martinez’s office whether she received a letter from the commision. Her office did not respond before press time. The commission itself is highly controversial.

Why it should bother you to say ‘Happy Juneteenth Day’

Dateline—This past June 19, 2017 marked the 152nd year that the state of Texas announced the abolition of slavery. Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the official emancipation of Negro slaves from the Confederate south. Those familiar with history but unfamiliar with this history may be wondering why it took an additional two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation for the Negro slave to be freed in all the Confederate States. The answer is simple: The “white establishment,” particularly in the form of government, has always dealt with the dark-skinned creature ambiguously. Therefore, I get it, and I even understand why it should bother you to say “Happy Juneteenth Day.” Actually, I along with many others of the black community would much rather you don’t offer a meaningless pleasantry and instead quote Gil Scott Heron, who said, “The Government You Have Elected is Inoperative” to begin your acknowledgement of your current and historic cruel treatment of black humanity.

Two Iraqi refugees in NM helped the US military. Now they’re facing deportation

At least two Iraqi refugees in New Mexico could be deported following a recent repatriation agreement between the U.S. and Iraq. But the American Civil Liberties Union is attempting to prevent that from happening. The New Mexico chapter recently weighed in after the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Michigan detained nearly 100 Iraqi nationals. A federal judge in Michigan earlier this month temporarily blocked deportation of Iraqi nationals, whom the ACLU has argued would face danger if deported back to their country of origin. Monday night that same judge extended the stay against deportation to all Iraqi-born people affected across the country, including at least two in New Mexico.

NM keeps warming but leadership won’t come from feds, state

So far this month, New Mexicans have experienced record high temperatures, dangerous dust storms and wildfire evacuations. Saturday night, a haboob struck Las Cruces, and last Monday, six people died when a dust storm led to a 25-car accident on Interstate-10. In our warming world, these conditions—piled one on top of another—won’t be unusual. According to NASA, May 2017 was the second warmest on record, just 0.05 degrees Celsius cooler than last May. Already, summer temperatures in New Mexico are 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in the 1970s.

No sign that Russians accessed NM voter systems

There’s no indication that New Mexico’s voter databases were improperly accessed, according to New Mexico’s secretary of state. This comes even as U.S. senators probed the issue in a hearing Wednesday morning. Wednesday morning, Jeanette Manfra, the acting undersecretary for cybersecurity and communications at DHS, told the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that election systems in 21 states were targeted in a Russian cyber attack. declined to say which states were targeted or what, if any, data was accessed by the hackers. Jeh Johnson said that while interference by Russia “was unprecedented” in “scale and scope,” there was no indication that Russians changed any votes in 2016.