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April 22, 2015

State’s job growth sees signs of slowdown amid lower gas prices -- Santa Fe New Mexican

The headwinds have officially started to blow against New Mexico’s economic growth.

Though the state is still seeing a surge in job growth over the past year, that is now muted by a slowdown during the most recent months in oil-patch-related sectors, according to data released Tuesday by the New Mexico Department of Worforce Solutions.



Border Patrol agents intercept smugglers in El Paso region– Las Cruces Sun News

The U.S. Border Patrol arrested two men and seized 121 pounds of marijuana after stopping a smuggling attempt Sunday in Fabens, officials said.

When agents arrived, two of the men escaped back into Mexico, officials said. Agents found the other men hiding with the marijuana in a dry canal. The men arrested were identified as Jorge Vera Luke, 29, and Adrian Moreno Garcia, 22, both of Mexico.

In separate cases, a convicted sex offender was among seven undocumented Mexican immigrants arrested Saturday by Border Patrol agents on horseback near Deming. Officials said that Andres Reyes Granados, 47, had been convicted in California of lewd or lascivious acts with a child. -- 4/22/2015


Las Crucens cope with Blue Bell ice cream recall– Las Cruces Sun News

Las Crucen Patti Dean was already planning to clean out her family's refrigerator and freezer. It became a bigger priority for Dean when she learned Tuesday that Blue Bell brand products — primarily ice cream and other frozen snacks — had been recalled.

As of Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 10 people, in four states, have shown symptoms related to listeria and Blue Bell products. Kenny Vigil, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health, said Tuesday no cases linked to listeria had been reported so far in New Mexico. -- 4/22/2015

April 21, 2015

Feds: LANL waste drums appear stable after signs of reactions -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Dozens of drums of radioactive waste at one of the nation’s premier weapons laboratories are stable after some showed signs of chemical reactions over the past year, according to federal officials.

The drums are being closely monitored after a chemical reaction inside a container with similar contents caused a breach in February 2014, resulting in a radiation release and the indefinite closure of the country’s only underground nuclear waste dump.

Investigators with the U.S. Energy Department confirmed during a recent town hall that there have been chemical reactions in the containers stored at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but the gases building up inside have decreased over the past several months. -- 4/21/2015


Patients Rank N.M. Hospitals Low -- KUNM's Public Health New Mexico

This is the first time the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has turned patient polls into star ratings so future health care consumers can make quick comparisons. Most New Mexico hospitals get two and three stars, with a few fours peppered in. Only four states and Washington, D.C., have a lower average star rating than New Mexico. -- 4/20/2015


Hospital Lookup

Star Ratings By State

Numerical Ratings By State

More Explanation Of The Ratings

Interior Department, Navajo Nation Partner to Implement Land Buy-Back Program -- U.S. Department of the Interior Press Release

Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor announced today that the Department has entered a cooperative agreement with the Navajo Nation to further implement the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program). The agreement outlines the strategy and resources to be provided to the tribe’s leadership to facilitate education about the Buy-Back Program and reach out to owners with fractionated interests in reservation land that can be consolidated for the benefit of the tribal community. -- 4/20/2015

April 16, 2015

Post-Election spending by PACs drops in New Mexico- Las Cruces Sun News

Some political action committees continued to spend and raise money in New Mexico after the November election. But the latest financial disclosures filed with the secretary of state's office show it wasn't nearly as much as before voters went to the polls.

Spending by the New Mexico House Majority Fund and the Keep New Mexico House Majority PAC dwindled to virtually zero following the election that saw the GOP take control of the House for the first time in decades. The filings for the Oct. 7 to April 6 reporting period were due Monday for all PACs and elected officials.

ActBlue, a committee that contributed to Democratic campaigns, raised and spent about $93,000. The Realtors Association of New Mexico PAC raised about $74,000 and spent $30,000, including $5,000 for Gov. Susana Martinez's inaugural. -- 4/15/2015


Martinez signs gambling compacts with 5 New Mexico tribesLas Cruces Sun News

Five New Mexico tribes have new 22-year gambling compacts with the state. Gov. Susana Martinez signed agreements with the Acoma and Jemez pueblos, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Navajo Nation. Martinez signed the agreements Monday during a ceremony at the governor's office with tribal leaders in attendance.

The signings followed several years of negotiations and legislative consideration capped by passage of a gambling compact bill during this year's session. Tribal officials also have signed the agreements, which now go to the federal Department of the Interior for its approval. -- 4/14/15

April 20, 2015

Wild horse advocates disagree on contraceptives for mustangs– Las Cruces Sun News

United in their belief wild horses should remain free to roam public rangeland across the West, groups including the BLM are working to protect the mustangs and are increasingly at odds over whether contraception should play a role in the decades-old dispute over efforts to reign in the natural size of the herds.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign - made up of more than 60 groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Welfare Institute and In Defense of Animals - has been willing to accept treating mares with the anti-fertility drug PZP as a more humane alternative to gathering and shipping mustangs to costly holding facilities. -- 4/20/2015


DOE report on WIPP: Los Alamos radiation release could have been preventedLas Cruces Sun News

A radiation leak that forced the indefinite closure of the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository could have been prevented, a team of investigators said Thursday.

A combination of poor management, lapses in safety and a lack of proper procedures were outlined in a final report released by the U.S. Department of Energy's Accident Investigation Board. Officials planned to review the findings Thursday night during a community meeting in Carlsbad.

The investigators spent more than a year looking into the cause of the radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico. – 4/17/2015


1,000 pounds of marijuana found in metal spools in El Paso, CBP officials sayLas Cruces Sun News

It took El Paso U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers 12 hours to remove more than 600 packages of marijuana from an elaborate smuggling attempt Tuesday at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso, officials said Thursday.

CBP officials said that 1,365 pounds of marijuana were found during the inspection of a flatbed trailer arriving from Mexico with a cargo of metal cables. Officers had to remove the cable from the large metal spools and cut open metal containers hidden in the middle of the spools to reach the marijuana, officials said. – 4/17/2015

April 13, 2015

Mighty Rio Grande Now a Trickle Under Siege -- The New York Times

On maps, the mighty Rio Grande meanders 1,900 miles, from southern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. But on the ground, farms and cities drink all but a trickle.

In a region that has replumbed entire river systems to build cities and farms where they would not otherwise flourish, the drought is a historic challenge, and perhaps an enduring one. Many scientists say this is the harbinger of the permanently drier and hotter West that global warming will deliver later this century. -- 4/13/2015

Resources cited:

1938 Rio Grande Compact

Elephant Butte Irrigation District

Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado, Pending petition.  SCOTUS Blog

West-Wide Climate Risk Assessment: Upper Rio Grande Impact Assessment. US Bureau of Reclamation


Studies question wisdom of thinning forests to stop fires -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe officials are now considering joining a collaborative brought together by The Nature Conservancy to thin and burn thousands of acres over the next 20 years in mountain ranges that drain water into the Rio Grande. The partnership hopes the plan will reduce the kind of catastrophic wildfires that wreaked havoc in the West over the last several years.

New studies question how, and where, fire and tree thinning in Western forests should be used to restore forest health and protect watersheds. The studies, and the move toward treating forests across large landscapes, are fueling some old debates over the best way for people to manage forests that have been dramatically altered during decades of fire suppression, logging and overgrazing. -- 4/12/2015

Resource cited:

Odion DC, Hanson CT, Arsenault A, Baker WL, DellaSala DA, et al. (2014) PLoS ONE 9(2): e87852. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087852


Net neutrality rules get published -- let the lawsuits begin -- CNET.COM

The Federal Communications Commission's rules for a free and open Internet were published Monday in the Federal Register, putting them one step closer to reality -- and officially subject to lawsuits.

The publication of the 400-page Net neutrality order in the federal government's journal of regulations starts a 60-day clock before it takes effect (on June 12). But it also means companies can officially take the FCC to court over the rules. And they didn't waste any time.

Under the new rules -- approved by the FCC in February and then released to the public in March -- Internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are not allowed to block lawful content, slow down applications or services, or accept fees for favored treatment. The rules essentially provide a framework for all Internet traffic to be treated equally. To do so, the FCC has reclassified broadband in a way that places providers under the same strict regulations that now govern telephone networks.-- 4/13/2015

Public input sought on Los Alamos stormwater proposal -- Santa Fe New Mexican

The public has until Thursday to weigh in on a proposed stormwater permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory and urban areas of Los Alamos County.

The Environmental Protection Agency made a preliminary decision in March that pollutants draining off parking lots, streets, roofs and other developed areas at the lab were contributing to Clean Water Act violations in streams. -- 4/12/2015