An emergency in plain sight

Alcohol kills New Mexicans at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country — and no one can fully explain why. New Mexicans die of alcohol-related causes at nearly three times the national average, higher by far than any other state. Alcohol is involved in more deaths than fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamines combined. In 2020, it killed more New Mexicans under 65 than Covid-19 did in the first year of the pandemic — all told, 1,878 people. This outsized harm defies easy explanation.

LANL team looks at how wildfire soot absorbs sunlight, contributes to climate change

As wildfires char land in the western United States, they are not only destroying property and threatening water supplies. They’re also producing black carbon, or soot, which contributes to climate change. Scientists have known for a while that black carbon, or soot, from wildfires absorbs sunlight and heats the atmosphere. But to what degree black carbon absorbs sunlight has been unknown. This is in part because black carbon does not occur alone and other aerosols that linger around it can change how much sunlight is absorbed.

As drought continues, river flows dwindle in Albuquerque area

As Rio Grande water dwindles to a mere trickle in the Albuquerque area for the first time since the early 1980s, irrigators are facing the possibility that only the Pueblos will be able to draw water from the river. A 1928 agreement means that Pueblo water rights are considered “prior and paramount.” That means the six Middle Rio Grande Pueblos will be able to take water from the river when other users are cut off. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District has now used all of the available San Juan-Chama water it had in storage. That means it is relying on the baseflow of the river and on water from monsoon events. 

Because of the Rio Grande Compact, MRGCD is only able to store San Juan-Chama water, meaning water pumped from the San Juan River, which is part of the Colorado River Basin, to the Rio Chama, which flows into the Rio Grande. A stream gauge that measures the Rio Grande’s flow near Alameda shows it flowing at 18 cubic feet per second as of Tuesday.

How anti-abortion activists plan to turn New Mexico into an anti-abortion state

After the repeal of Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion activists are looking to turn public sentiment against abortion access in New Mexico,  a state where abortion is legal, abortion rights policy experts have said. Nadia Cabrera-Mazzeo, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said that organizations involved in reproductive rights in New Mexico expected this to happen before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “It’s a certainty and we’ve been expecting it. We knew the second Roe was overturned, [anti-abortion activists] would set their sights on New Mexico where it’s still legal to get necessary care,” she said to NM Political Report. Last week, an anti-abortion group called Southwest Coalition for Life organized a rally in a parking lot next to the future Las Cruces Women’s Health Organization.

What can Biden’s executive order to protect reproductive access actually accomplish

President Joe Biden’s executive order to protect reproductive rights and care announced earlier this month can only do so much without Congressional budgetary support. The order directs federal agencies, particularly the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] to safeguard access to abortion care and contraception, protect the privacy of patients, promote the safety and security of both patients and providers and to coordinate federal efforts to protect reproductive access and rights. But, Biden’s ability to affect change on the current state of abortion care now that the court has overturned Roe v. Wade is “handcuffed” by a lack of action from the U.S. Congress, Noreen Farrell, attorney and executive director with the nonprofit Equal Rights Advocates, told NM Political Report. “Obviously, there’s some congressional handcuffs on the scope and impact of executive action,” Farrell said. Farrell called the order “a plan to make a plan.”

A few days after Biden’s order, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra issued guidance that states that providers must continue to follow the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, a federal law that requires that all patients receive an examination, stabilizing treatment and transfer, if necessary, as needed, irrespective of state laws that apply to specific procedures.