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CYFD rolls out new dashboard in ongoing effort to improve transparency

As part of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s 2023 executive order to transform the Children, Youth and Families Department, the department rolled out a new dashboard during a press conference on Tuesday. The dashboard can be found on CYFD’s new website, It is one way the department is trying to be more accountable. Lujan Grisham issued an executive order earlier this year to make systemic change to an agency that has been rocked by allegations of neglect to abuse under its watch in recent years. Earlier this month, a new CYFD advisory council met with members of the press and the public to discuss how the council and the department would meet the mandates of the executive order.

Analysis: PFAS cleanup funding fails to meet needs

A new analysis released Monday by the Environmental Working Group shows that the U.S. Department of Defense’s budget for cleaning up sites like Cannon Air Force Base where activities led to PFAS contamination of groundwater is falling behind. There are four Department of Defense sites in New Mexico with known PFAS contamination and four others with suspected contamination. PFAS chemicals, or per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been linked to various health conditions including increased risks of certain cancers, increased risk of pre-eclampsia for pregnant women, changes in liver enzymes, decreased responses to vaccines and increased cholesterol levels. PFAS are often referred to as forever chemicals because they break down very slowly and can persist for thousands of years in the environment. According to the analysis, the estimated cost to clean up the Department of Defense sites across the nation where PFAS contamination has occurred increased by $3.7 billion from 2016 to 2021.

New Mexico locales pass more anti-abortion ordinances than other pro-abortion states

Despite abortion in New Mexico remaining legal and recent legislation to further protect care, municipalities and counties have passed more anti-abortion ordinances than other states that are considered pro-abortion. Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, told NM Political Report that attempts to pass similar ordinances have occurred in other states but no other state has had as many locales pass anti-abortion ordinances as New Mexico that are pro-abortion. Her group monitors anti-abortion ordinances passed at the local level around the U.S.

The town of Edgewood is the latest of six locales in New Mexico that have passed anti-abortion ordinances. The city council passed the ordinance at the end of an eight-hour public meeting last month. When asked if she thought New Mexico has become the new battleground for abortion rights, Miller said that “might be giving these things too much credence.”

“A very small proportion of these kinds of extreme measures are up against an overwhelming degree of support and elected officials are taking affirmative steps at the state level to not only safeguard access but also to expand it,” she said.

New study looks at the health costs, impacts of oil and gas pollution

A new report released this week found that pollution from oil and gas costs billions in health damages annually and contributes to early deaths as well as childhood asthma. The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Research: Health, looked at data from 2016,  before New Mexico saw surging levels of extraction. Corresponding author Jonathan Buonocore, an assistant professor at Boston University, said that the impacts are likely more severe now due to the increased production. In 2016, the pollution from oil and gas worsened asthma in more than 410,000 instances and led to more than 2,000 new cases of childhood asthma and 7,500 excess deaths, according to the study. The pollution caused $77 billion of health-related damages in 2016.

Trump-era immigration policy ends with pandemic, advocates concerned for asylum seekers

The public health order that has prevented asylum seekers from crossing the border through ports of entry ends at midnight Thursday. The public health order, called Title 42, ends at midnight ET on May 11. President Donald Trump invoked it at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, claiming it would help stop the spread of the respiratory disease but many critics have called it a racist ploy to stop immigration along the southern border. President Joe Biden tried to end Title 42 after he took office but legal challenges by Republicans led to the courts overturning Biden’s plans. The policy ends on Thursday because the U.S. Health and Human Services is allowing the federal public health emergency for COVID-19 to end on Thursday as well.

Lawsuit says New Mexico has failed to protect the environment, communities from oil and gas

Paul and Mary Ann Atencio sometimes hear a loud boom. This boom, they have been told, occurs when an 18-inch high pressure pipeline that runs down the road by their house is cleaned out. They aren’t told when this will occur and, when it does, they say that they can hear and smell the gaseous fumes being released. The Atencios live in a part of eastern Navajo Nation where there’s a checkerboard of land and mineral ownership. 

They have joined other Navajo community members as well as the Pueblo Action Alliance, Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians in suing the state. The plaintiffs say that New Mexico has failed in its constitutional duty to protect the environment and frontline communities from the impacts of oil and gas.

NRC issues a license for Holtec to store nuclear waste in New Mexico, state officials respond

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued Holtec International a license on Tuesday that will allow the company to construct and operate a facility in southeast New Mexico that will temporarily store nuclear waste from power plants across the country. The federal agency issued the license despite backlash from the state, including the passage of a new law that attempted to block the facility by requiring a federal permanent repository to be in operation before nuclear waste can be stored in New Mexico. State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, sponsored the law that attempts to block the project. In a statement, Steinborn said the NRC’s decision to issue the license illustrates why the new law is so important. “It’s time that our voice be heard and honored, and that this project be shut down,” he said.

Screenshot of President Joe Biden during a press conference May 9, 2023. The press conference followed a closed-door meeting between Biden and congressional leadership to address the debt ceiling impasse.

Concerns mount as debt ceiling deadline nears

President Joe Biden met with congressional leadership from both parties Tuesday to negotiate an end to the federal debt ceiling dispute. Both Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivered comments and took questions following the closed-session meeting. Biden called the meeting productive. The meeting was called to discuss a path beyond the current debt ceiling problems.

“America is not going to default on this debt for the first time in history. Never has, never well,” Biden said.

ECECD announces rule changes to help families and early childcare providers and educators

The state Early Childhood Education and Care Department announced a proposed rule change that would maintain the expanded eligibility for early childcare assistance on a day of action by some early childcare centers nationwide. ECECD expanded early childcare assistance in 2021 to allow a family of four making up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, to remain eligible for state assistance. The policy had a 2023 end date but ECECD is proposing to change its rules to implement that change permanently. The rule change would also include increased rates for early childcare providers and will enable participating providers to maintain a $3 per hour raise that went into effect in 2021. Micah McCoy, communications director for ECECD, told NM Political Report that the intent is that no early childcare worker will make less than $15 an hour but lead teachers can make as much as $20 an hour.

Screenshot of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaking at a a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health fireside chat May 5, 2023.

MLG talks about health gains in NM at Johns Hopkins talk

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke  at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health fireside chat Friday morning. She spoke about health policy solutions for New Mexico and beyond, as well as strategies for leading on public health and policy issues with host Ellen MacKenzie, the Bloomberg School Dean. “This is a country that could do far better in health outcomes and the underlying root cause for at least someone like me is the fact that we don’t respect public health initiatives and investments,” Lujan Grisham said. Lujan Grisham discussed many of the changes made during the 2023 legislative session including universal free meals for school children, protecting women’s reproductive rights and gender-affirming care and what the state is doing to expand rural broadband onto the state’s pueblo, nation and tribal lands. “We are running as fast as we can to get fiber to every household in the Navajo Nation,” Lujan Grisham said.