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Sept. 18 First News: N.M. Environment Secretary EPA Kept State In Dark Over Mine Spill-Listen

Sep 18, 2015

Federal regulators refused to share water quality data for weeks following a blowout of toxic wastewater from a Colorado mine that fouled rivers across the Southwest. That charge coming from New Mexico Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ryan Flynn Thursday in Washington before the House committees on Natural Resources and Oversight and Government Reform. Flynn says the move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aimed to downplay the severity of the spill, hobbling the state's response. He says he remained concerned about contaminated sediments harming the environment and said a long-term monitoring plan offered by the agency was inadequate. That echoed concerns raised by Navajo President Russell Begaye, who questioned the EPA’s role overseeing the response to a spill that it caused. Republican lawmakers have used the events to bash the EPA for its handling of issues ranging from climate change to the protection of streams. The August fifth spill was triggered by an EPA cleanup team as it was doing excavation work on an inactive mine near Silverton, Colorado. The pollution tainted with heavy metals flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah. EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen says water-quality test results were made public as soon as they were validated.

New Mexico's GOP chairwoman says state Republicans are eyeing four seats in the Democratic-controlled Senate for next fall’s elections. The Roswell Daily Record reports state GOP chairwoman Debbie Maestas told a meeting of the Chaves County Republican Women this week that a Republican governor and majorities in the House and Senate would create policy- opportunities. She says this election outcome would give Republicans two years to approve legislation. Targeted Democrats include Senators Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque, John Sapien of Corrales, William Soules of Las Cruces and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen. Sanchez is credited with derailing several GOP initiatives during the 2015 legislative session. Maestas said five Republicans are vulnerable in the state House, but did not specify which ones.

Former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici says oil and gas resources are blessings that will likely remain key elements of the nation's energy landscape for a long time to come. The Republican spoke Thursday at the eighth annual Domenici Public Policy Conference in Las Cruces, an event that touched on energy, economic development and foreign policy. Domenici says the United States is on the verge of becoming the largest producer of oil and gas in the world and that the lower price of hydrocarbons makes the resources excellent “bridge fuels.” He also acknowledged there are global warming consequences and says efficiency should be the goal to minimize the effect of carbon emissions. The longest serving senator in state history, Domenici served in the U.S. Senate from 1972 to 2009.

A 16-year-old charged with two others in the beating deaths of two homeless Navajo men in Albuquerque has taken a plea deal. The teen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and related charges in an agreement that caps his potential sentence at 20 years. However, the deal offers the possibility of release when the teen turns 21.

The Albuquerque Fire Department says three people escaped injury when the family dog alerted them that their mobile home was on fire. Fire officials say the woman and two children in the home were asleep when the fire started and their dog alerted them. Firefighters knocked down the fire in minutes but the family will be displaced from their home.

Sandoval County authorities say a homeowner in Placitas shot and killed a suspected intruder after a confrontation in the man's home. KOB-TV reports the suspect was shot Wednesday- morning. The sheriff's office says the homeowner had struggled with the suspect over a handgun. The homeowner gained control of the weapon and fired at the suspect, who died at the scene. The suspect's identity and the identity of the homeowner have not yet been released. The homeowner was treated for injuries at a hospital. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Authorities say a man who threw a woman to her death from a hospital roof later walked away from an Ohio prison work farm and lived under an alias for three decades before he died in 2004. The U.S. Marshals Service says it determined Shirley Campbell died in New Mexico at age 67.  Campbell was imprisoned for sexually assaulting and killing a student nurse in 1958 at the Cincinnati-area hospital where he was an orderly. Authorities say he left a prison site in Chillicothe (chihl-ih-KAHTH'-ee) in 1972 and began using the name Edward Davis. He lived in Los Angeles and then Roswell, New Mexico, where he married, earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and became a state employment counselor. Deputy Marshal David Siler says Campbell's wife didn't know about his past.

Santa Fe Weather: Expect sunny skies today with the high 81. Tonight, Partly cloudy with the overnight low 52. Tomorrow, mostly sunny and a bit cooler with Saturday’s high, 76.