Death highway: A massive oil boom in the Permian Basin has turned rural roads into deadly highways

ROSWELL AND CARLSBAD — At one end of Pauline and Joe Ponce’s spacious dining room in Roswell lies a cabinet crowded with photographs and mementos of their son, Michael. An old wrestling match program rests amid snapshots of Michael with his daughter, his parents, his wife. Pauline lingers beside an image of Michael holding his then one-and-a-half-year-old son, captured in December 2017. “That was taken only two months before Michael died,” she said. On the morning of Feb.

Report shows minorities driving rural growth in NM, rest of western U.S.

In the West, minorities are helping boost populations in rural areas, including in New Mexico. That’s what a recent report by the independent research group Headwaters Economics found. Analysts looked at data from the U.S. Census Bureau and compared the populations and demographics of rural counties from 1980 to 2015. Nearly every county saw a growth in minority populations, echoing the shift in demographics of the nation as a whole. This trend is as pronounced in New Mexico, which already has among he lowest percentage of white non-Hispanic white populations, as in any other western state.

Report: Drilling spills down in 2016

Oil and gas companies reported fewer toxic spills in New Mexico last year than in 2015. According to the Center for Western Priorities’ 2016 Spill Tracker, companies reported 1,310 spills in 2016. Most of those occurred in Lea and Eddy counties, the site of most drilling activity in the state. The nonpartisan group’s Spill Tracker is based on publicly-available records from New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Division, which is within the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. According to the Spill Tracker, five companies were responsible for nearly 40 percent of all spills of crude oil, natural gas and produced water.

Flashback: NM county clerk resigned over same-sex marriage

New Mexico has been giving marriage certificates to same-sex couples since 2013, after a state Supreme Court decision said that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage certificates to same-sex couples. New Mexico was the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Nationwide, same-sex marriage only became legal earlier this year after a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The opposition to the same-sex marriage has been signified by a county clerk in Kentucky who went to jail rather than give marriage certificates to same-sex couples. A federal judge ruled Kim Davis in contempt of court for failing to give such certificates despite numerous court rulings that said government workers cannot deny certificates to same-sex couples.

New Mexico a top historical ‘bellwether’ state for president

New Mexico has been one of the states that is happiest with the president who is elected, having voted for the winning candidate nearly every time in state history. Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, named after the director of the University of Virginia Center of Politics which publishes the website, says that New Mexico and Ohio are two states to keep an eye on when determining which candidate will become the next president if the past is any indication. These are known as bellwethers. Ohio narrowly edges New Mexico. Both have successfully voted for the winning candidate in all but two elections.

Dark Gold: New Mexico’s oil patch grapples with industry impacts

© New Mexico Political Report, 2015. Contact editor@nmpoliticalreport.com for info on republishing. This story is part one of a two-part series. Read part two here. Eddy County, NM, was a sleepy, low-key place when retired teacher Vickie Connally and her family moved to their little ranch in Loving south of Carlsbad years ago.