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December 21, 2016

NM appoints former oil executive to top energy postLas Cruces Sun News

Former oil and natural gas industry executive Ken McQueen was appointed Tuesday to lead the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

In a statement, Gov. Susana Martinez said McQueen brings a valuable background in petroleum engineering to the post and will be in charge of a state energy plan that stresses job creation and supporting national efforts toward energy independence. -- 12/21/2016

December 5, 2016

New Mexico facing $69M deficit, more trouble on horizon -- Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico’s budget woes show no signs of abating, as revenue estimates unveiled today show the state facing an estimated deficit of about $69 million for the current fiscal budget year even if all cash reserves are spent.

In addition, the amount of revenue projected to be available for the fiscal year starting in July 2017 is nearly $300 million less than original state spending levels for this year.-- 12/5/2016


Federal government blocks Dakota Access oil pipeline route -- Santa Fe New Mexican

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday that it won’t grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota, handing a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters, who argued the project would threaten a water source and cultural sites. -- 12/5/2016

November 23, 2016

Federal Judge Blocks Obama Administration's Overtime Pay Rule -- NPR

With just over a week before it was scheduled to take effect, a federal judge has blocked the implementation of an Obama administration rule that would have extended overtime eligibility to some 4 million Americans.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III issued a preliminary injunction in the case, siding with plaintiffs who said the new overtime rules would have caused an uptick in government costs in their states and made it mandatory for businesses to pay millions in additional salaries. Business groups said the new rule changes would have eventually led to layoffs. -- 11/22/2016


New Mexico considers partial closure plan for nuke dump -- KOB News/Associated Press

New Mexico regulators are now considering a proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy to close part of the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository due to safety and contamination concerns.

The plan was first announced in October but officials with the New Mexico Environment Department confirmed this week that they recently received the federal government's written request. -- 11/23/2016


New Mexico State Parks is Joining REI’s #OptOutside for Black Friday -- New Mexico State Parks

New Mexico State Parks is proudly joining other states by waiving fees on Black Friday in support of retailer REI and a growing number of other organizations who are encouraging people to spend more time outdoors. New Mexico State Parks will be waiving the $5 day-use fees for all 35 state parks on Friday, November 25, 2016.  -- 11/23/2015

November 18, 2016

Feds block oil and gas development in parts of western Colorado -- Denver Business Journal

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Thursday announced final decisions that will bar oil and gas development from some areas of western Colorado.

The two announced that the U.S. Department of Interior has issued a Record of Decision, the final step for the agency, in a 2014 settlement regarding the future of the Roan Plateau near Rifle, a settlement that was applauded by industry, environmental groups and local communities. The settlement canceled leases on top of the plateau and set new rules governing development around the base of the iconic landscape.

The two also announced a Record of Decision that will cancel 25 inactive oil and gas leases issued by the Bureau of Land Management in the Thompson Divide area of the White River National Forest in western Colorado between 1995 and 2012. -- 11/17/2016

November 17, 2016

State Land Office OK's step in SunZia processLas Cruces Sun News

New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn announced Wednesday that he has granted a right-of-entry for the SunZia Transmission Project. The controversial project is slated to cross 89 miles of New Mexico State Trust Land. SunZia contains close to 515 miles of two single-circuit 500 kV transmission lines that will traverse New Mexico and Arizona. It is designed to connect and deliver electricity generated in Arizona and New Mexico to population centers in the desert Southwest. -- 11/17/2016


New Mexico governor offers assurances on health coverage -- KOB News

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has offered assurances that people won't be left without health insurance as President-elect Donald Trump and fellow Republicans seek to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

Martinez said Tuesday that she expected people to continue to enroll for insurance using health care exchanges as long as it's the law and that insurance cannot simply be taken away. A transition to any new system will be needed ensure people are not left uninsured, she said.

Changes to the Affordable Care Act may have major implications in New Mexico, where people have flocked to Medicaid since Martinez agreed to an expansion in 2014 and where other federal subsidies extend to three out of four uninsured applicants who use the state insurance exchange. -- 11/17/2016

November 15, 2016

Interior Department Announces Final Rule to Reduce Methane Emissions & Wasted Gas on Public, Tribal Lands -- Interior Department Announcement

Final Rule Limits Venting, Flaring and Leaking from Oil & Gas Operations to Reduce Waste and Harmful Emissions, Provide Fair Return to Taxpayers

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule – a final rule that will reduce the wasteful release of natural gas into the atmosphere from oil and gas operations on public and Indian lands. The rule updates 30-year old regulations governing venting, flaring, and leaks of natural gas, and will help curb waste of public resources, reduce harmful methane emissions, and provide a fair return on public resources for federal taxpayers, tribes and states. -- 11/15/2016


New Mexico starts issuing Real ID-compliant licenses -- Albuquerque Journal

The state on Monday began issuing Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses along with driving authorization cards, drawing immediate complaints that it is overreaching in what’s being required for the cards.

The new, two-tiered licensing system implements a law passed during this year’s legislative session and signed by the governor in March.

Under the new law, U.S. citizens and others here lawfully have the option of getting licenses that comply with the stricter identification requirements of the federal Real ID law, which are required to enter some secure federal facilities, and, eventually, will be required to board airliners.

Undocumented immigrants – along with any citizens who prefer not to have Real ID-compliant licenses – are able to get driver’s authorization cards.

New Mexicans don’t have to get the new licenses or authorization cards until their current licenses expire – unless that’s after 2020.  -- 11/15/2016

The new system was rolled out without fanfare and apparently caused some confusion. It was implemented a day before the regulations for the new program became effective, according to the Taxation and Revenue Department.


Army Corps Of Engineers Wants Further Study Of Dakota Access Pipeline -- NPR Morning Edition

Native Americans and supporters fighting the pipeline got a reprieve on Monday when the Army Corps of Engineers delayed a key decision on whether to let construction go ahead. -- 11/15/2016

November 10, 2016

Interior Department Finalizes Rule Providing a Foundation for the Future of BLM’s Renewable Energy Program -- Department of the Interior News Release

Rule codifies BLM’s Smart from the Start approach, establishes a robust framework for competitive leasing, and increases transparency and certainty 

 Advancing the President’s Climate Action Plan to create jobs, cut carbon pollution and develop clean domestic energy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) finalized its rule governing solar and wind energy development on public lands. The rule strengthens existing policies and creates a new leasing program that will support renewable energy development through competitive leasing processes and incentives to encourage development in suitable areas.

The rule will support the full range of development activities anticipated by the BLM across the lands it manages. The rule’s competitive leasing provisions will help renewable energy development flourish on the 700,000 acres of public lands that have been identified in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The regulations will become effective 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register. -- 11/10/2016