By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A U.S. judge serving as special master in a legal battle over management of one of North America’s longest rivers has cleared the way for a proposed settlement to be made public. The federal government had sought to keep details of the agreement in the Rio Grande case sealed, but the special master rejected that request. Under an order issued Friday, the proposal reached by Texas, New Mexico and Colorado will be released next week as attorneys prepare for an upcoming hearing on the merits of the proposal. The case has been pending before the U.S. Supreme Court for nearly a decade, and the stakes are escalating as much of the West grapples with persistent drought.