Guv slams federal methane regulation rollback

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined a choir of criticism Thursday directed towards the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the agency rescinded Obama-era regulations for methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. 

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the new regulation at a press conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The new rule removes requirements for operators to fix methane leaks discovered during bi-annual inspections on equipment at well sites and downstream that were installed after 2015, and relaxes other standards related to emissions. 

“EPA has been working hard to fulfill President Trump’s promise to cut burdensome and ineffective regulations for our domestic energy industry,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Regulatory burdens put into place by the Obama-Biden Administration fell heavily on small and medium-sized energy businesses. Today’s regulatory changes remove redundant paperwork, align with the Clean Air Act, and allow companies the flexibility to satisfy leak-control requirements by complying with equivalent state rules.”

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“It is utterly disheartening and sadly unsurprising to hear once again that critical environmental regulations are being rolled back by the Trump administration, leaving states to fend for themselves,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement Thursday afternoon. Lujan Grisham cited her administration’s work to develop more stringent methane rules for oil and gas operations in the state. 

“New Mexico is well on the way to putting in place our own robust and innovative regulations to curb methane emissions in the oil and gas industry, which will yield improved air quality and fewer climate change-inducing emissions,” she said.

Good news, but still far to go for NM’s COVID response

In another COVID-19 update with a positive tone, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her Human Services Department secretary outlined how the state’s response to COVID-19 has continued to improve in much of the state. “Let’s keep showing the country what leaders New Mexicans are,” Lujan Grisham said. Related: 177 new cases and two new deaths related to COVID-19

The state has consistently been under its goal of a 5 percent positivity rate—which is the percentage of positive tests out of the total number of tests—in recent days. “I think it really demonstrates that if we limit our activities, we limit the contact we have with individuals, that we wear masks, that we do good handwashing, those activities really make a difference,” Lujan Grisham said. But she and Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase warned that hitting gating criteria is not a finish line, but just a signal that they can consider further “risk” by reopening areas previously closed, including in-person instruction at public schools and further businesses.

NM Democrats praise Biden’s choice of Harris for running mate

While presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden did not choose New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as his running mate, he followed through on his promise to select a woman as his running mate when he chose California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris on Tuesday. Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant father and an Indian immigrant mother, is the first woman of color as a running mate for a major political party. Democratic politicians in New Mexico, including Lujan Grisham, praised Biden’s choice. “It’s time to rebuild our country better than ever before. It’s time to take back the White House.

Lujan Grisham to speak at Democratic National Convention

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will speak at the unusual Democratic National Convention next week, where former Vice President Joe Biden will formally accept the Democratic nomination. Lujan Grisham is one of the list of speakers announced, and will speak on Wednesday, the same night as Biden’s as-yet unnamed vice presidential nominee. Lujan Grisham was on the short-list of vice presidential candidates, but said in recent weeks that she hadn’t had recent conversations with the Biden campaign. Biden committed early in the process to nominating a woman to be his running mate. The convention will be held online this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governing with moxie: How Michelle Lujan Grisham got on Joe Biden’s shortlist

When Michelle Lujan Grisham was a representative in Congress, she often shared a commute with Beto O’Rourke. They met up on connecting flights to D.C., sometimes in the Dallas airport, sometimes in Chicago. 

O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, recently recalled the conversations with his “good friend” Michelle, describing her “singular skill in getting you to laugh or take a step back from a really intensive conversation and remember that, hey, we’re all in the same boat here…I just found that to be so effective in building trust with people from both sides of the aisle.”  

This story originally appeared at Searchlight New Mexico and is republished with permission. Today, Lujan Grisham once again finds herself within arm’s reach of the national stage — this time as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s possible running mate. Biden is vetting her alongside such high-profile figures as U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Lujan Grisham’s place on the list is a testament to the political savvy and policy chops of the country’s first Democratic Latina governor.

Guv optimistic, but still cautious, as COVID-19 number improve

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state officials had good news for New Mexicans when it came to COVID-19 during her Thursday press conference. 

The number of cases, after reaching a peak in mid-July, have dropped down in the past couple of weeks through much of the state. The positivity rate on tests has also dropped, even as the number of tests remains high in the state. But Lujan Grisham noted that there is a long road ahead, and it’s not an invitation for New Mexicans to abandon COVID-safe practices. She warned the state is not “out of the woods” yet, even as things trend in the right direction. Because of this, and other efforts, Lujan Grisham and Aging and Long-term Services Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez announced that limited nursing home visitation would be allowed.

NM Supreme Court rules state can impose fines, other punishments for businesses who violate state health orders

The New Mexico Supreme Court decided Tuesday that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office has the power to implement fines against businesses that do not follow the state’s emergency health orders. 

“The court has concluded that the Legislature has clearly given the governor that authority,” New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Vigil said. 

Vigil added that the court will issue a written opinion “as quickly as [the court] can get it out.”

The state’s high court heard oral arguments Tuesday morning from the governor’s attorney Matthew Garcia and from Carter Harrison IV, who argued on behalf of about a dozen businesses and business owners. 

Public health order extended as state focuses on aid

The state of New Mexico will extend its public health order with very little changes to the current  one, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday. The state will still limit capacity at many locations, like places of worship and retail stores, and not allow indoor dining at restaurants, while keeping movie theaters closed and not allowing mass gatherings. Additionally, the state will still require all New Mexicans to wear face masks while in public. While the 14-day quarantine requirement for all travelers from other states remains in place, the governor said there would be some changes for those on necessary business and medical travel, likely announced on Friday. The public health order will also move wineries and distilleries into the same category as restaurants and breweries, which will allow them to serve customers outdoors, including on patios.

255 new COVID-19 cases in NM including uptick in McKinley County

The state Department of Health announced Thursday 255 additional COVID-19 cases which includes a new uptick in cases in McKinley County. McKinley County, which has grappled with one of the highest numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the state, had eight cases Wednesday and low double digit numbers Monday and Tuesday but the county had 35 additional cases Thursday. Only Bernalillo County, with 63 new cases, had a higher total, but Bernalillo County has a population that is nearly 10 times larger. The newly confirmed cases represented 3.6 percent of the 7,026 tests processed since Wednesday. Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase said in a press conference Thursday that the state aimed to keep that number below 5 percent, while Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham hoped it could drop below 3 percent.

Leaders from NM participate in Emily’s List virtual conference

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small spoke during the political action committee Emily’s List virtual conference this week, highlighting women’s accomplishments in politics. Lujan Grisham took a swipe at President Donald Trump’s “refusal to do the bare minimum,” during the pandemic as she highlighted the accomplishment’s women have made, particularly during the public health emergency. She cited governors Gretchen Whitmer, of Michigan, and Gina Raimondo, of Rhode Island, in particular, for their leadership during the pandemic and called New Mexico “a leader in electing women.”

“Almost a third of women of color who have ever served in any statewide executive office are from New Mexico,” she said in an online speech. “We have the opportunity this fall to send an all women of color House delegation to Washington, D.C. and we have the momentum on our side.”

Lujan Grisham was referring to Democratic candidates Teresa Leger Fernandez, who is running for the 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, Torres Small, the incumbent Democratic candidate running to keep her seat for the state’s 2nd Congressional District and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, another incumbent Democrat running to keep her seat for the 1st Congressional District. Torres Small spoke briefly about some of the difficulties of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico during the pandemic and how COVID-19 exposed inequities that have “existed since the birth of our nation.”

She cited the lack of water and lack of adequate living situations in the Navajo Nation as having contributed to the spread of the disease in the Navajo Nation.