‘Intolerant’ of groundwater contamination, NM sues Air Force over PFAS pollution

In a lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force, New Mexico alleges the military isn’t doing enough to contain or clean up dangerous chemicals that have seeped into the groundwater below two Air Force bases in the state. On Tuesday, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) filed a complaint in federal district court, asking a judge to compel the Air Force to act on, and fund, cleanup at the two bases near Clovis and Alamogordo. “We have significant amounts of PFAS in the groundwater, under both Cannon and Holloman Air Force bases,” NMED Secretary James Kenney told NM Political Report. PFAS, or per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are toxic, human-manufactured chemicals that move through groundwater and biological systems. Even in small amounts, exposure to PFAS increases the risk of testicular, kidney and thyroid cancer and problems like ulcerative colitis and pregnancy-induced hypertension. NMED Secretary James Kenney

“We want the groundwater cleaned up in the shortest amount of time possible, and we think at this point litigation is our best and fastest approach,” Kenney said.

Judge: Public officials’ Facebook subject to IPRA

Public officials’ Facebook pages are subject to the state’s open records law, a district court judge ruled last week. District Judge Jerry H. Ritter Jr. ruled that the City of Alamogordo violated the state Inspection of Public Records Act over a request by Wendy Irby, according to the Alamogordo Daily News. The city did not hand over relevant documents—and actually said they did not have access to the documents. This appears to be a first in New Mexico, according to Susan Boe, the executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. “The Facebook issue hasn’t really come up here in New Mexico, but it has in other states,” she told NM Political Report on Monday.

Holloman AFB to house Central American refugee children

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — Beginning in mid-January, Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico will become the temporary home for about 400 refugee children from Central America. The Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies are in charge of the program, a result of the recent increase in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the United States. Mike Espritu, director of the Chamber of Commerce in nearby Alamogordo, said local groups are getting ready to assist when the children arrive. “We’ve already had one meeting with some local leaders and it appears the community is willing to do what it can, to do what’s right for the children,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, it’s going to take care of those young people, no matter who they are.”

No more gun events at NMSU-Alamogordo campus

The Alamogordo branch of New Mexico State University announced that it would no longer allow gun shows or events with gun giveaways on campus. The Alamogordo Daily News reported the change in policy this weekend. The New Mexico State University-Alamogordo (NMSU-A) Interim President made the announced last Wednesday. It looks like it will impact the Alamogordo Evening Lions Club and Western Frontier Gun Shows, which have used the Tays Center, a facility on the branch’s campus. Dr. Ken Van Winkle, who has been Interim President since June 1, cited legal support from the main campus and recent mass shootings, including the one in Oregon on a community college campus.