Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Rundown: Richardson Dies and an $8B Wind Power Project Breaks Ground


Former Gov. Bill Richardson Dies

Former governor, congressman and diplomat Bill Richardson died Saturday, according to the Richardson Center for Global Engagement. Richardson was 75.

According to sources, Richardson “passed away peacefully in his sleep.”

Richardson was born in Pasadena, California and grew up in California and Mexico. After going to prep school in New England and college at Tufts, eventually earning his master’s degree in international affairs, Richardson moved to Santa Fe.

Richardson had a long history in New Mexico politics, including serving two terms as governor of New Mexico. But he also worked on the national and international stage.

Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico issued statements Saturday praising Richardson’s public service.

U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján noted that Richardson held the same congressional seat as he did.

Richardson appointed Heinrich to serve as a Natural Resources Trustee in 2006.

“Governor Bill Richardson believed New Mexico could do big things. His ambition for our state meant he never accepted mediocrity, and always pushed us to fight for the future we deserved,” Heinrich said in a statement.

Richardson would end up serving as a member of Congress until 1997, when Bill Clinton nominated him to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

After two years as an ambassador, Richardson became Clinton’s Secretary of Energy from August 1998 until the end of Clinton’s term in 2001.

In August, the two U.S. Senators nominated Richardson for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to have repressive regimes release political prisoners and hostages.

State Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Anti-Abortion Ordinances

The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over the legality of anti-abortion ordinances in some smaller jurisdictions (such as Edgewood and Clovis), passed last winter, creating a “patchwork” of abortion access in the state.

The oral arguments will be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 13 and the parties will argue the legality of those anti-abortion ordinances now that the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Healthcare law applies. The law, which prohibits public bodies from discriminating against reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare, passed the legislature in March.

$8B SunZia Transmission and Wind Project Breaks Ground in East Mts.

Last weekend, officials celebrated the groundbreaking of an $8 billion dollar transmission and wind energy project in Central New Mexico. The SunZia wind and transmission will combine to create the largest clean energy infrastructure project in United States history.

Final approval came in May, with U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland saying the latest application was reviewed in record time as the administration has tried to fast-track more projects.

Haaland said the Bureau of Land Management consistently sought collaboration to develop the best possible route for the line. She doubled down Friday on the administration’s promise to permit at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy by 2025. She said New Mexico, her home state, stands to play a big role in production given its supply of sunshine and wind.

SunZia will cross varied terrain, from a riparian area along the Rio Grande to rugged canyons and cactus-dotted valleys.

The project will carry wind energy to areas with high demand for power, such as Arizona and the Western U.S.

Commercial operations are expected to begin in 2026.

DOH Reports First West Nile Death of Year in NM

Health officials reported last week a Valencia County man's recent death is related to the virus. Statewide, 36 people have been diagnosed in 2023 with West Nile virus, which typically spreads to humans through a bite from an infected mosquito.

Officials say it varies in how severe symptoms can be. In some cases, infections can go unnoticed while others generate flu-like symptoms. Those can include West Nile fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue. In more extreme cases, death.

West Nile virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. Over the past five years, between one and six New Mexicans residents have died each year from West Nile virus.


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