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August 28, 2015

Judge blocks Obama administration regulation on waterways -- KOB/Associated Press

A federal judge in North Dakota on Thursday blocked a new Obama administration rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some state waterways.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo issued a temporary injunction against the rule which would have given the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority over some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The rule was scheduled to take effect Friday. -- 8/27/2015


Commission Expands Hunting Of Bears And Cougars -- KUNM/Associated Press

The state Game Commission has voted unanimously to approve the expansion of cougar and bear hunting in New Mexico.

The vote came Thursday during a meeting in Santa Fe that was attended by dozens of wildlife advocates who voiced concerns about the proposal.

The new rules will allow for more black bear hunting in all but two of the state's game management districts as well as the doubling of cougar hunting limits. The trapping and snaring of cougars on private land and state trust land will also be allowed without special permits. -- 8/28/2015

August 27, 2015

FDA lays out proposal for naming lower-cost biotech drugs -- Santa Fe New Mexican/Associated Press

The Food and Drug Administration released its proposal Thursday for naming lower-cost biotech drugs, a critical step in creating a market for the new class of medicines.

These quasi-generic biotech drugs have the potential to save the U.S. health care system billions of dollars in costs. But representatives for the generic drug industry warned that the FDA's proposal could curb those savings by making the drugs more difficult to prescribe. -- 8/27/2015


August 24, 2015

EPA knew of ‘blowout risk’ at mine -- Albuquerque Journal

U.S. officials knew of the potential for a catastrophic “blowout” of toxic wastewater from an inactive gold mine, yet appeared to have only a cursory plan to deal with such an event when government contractors triggered a 3-million-gallon spill, according to internal documents released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA released the documents late Friday following weeks of prodding from media organizations. -- 8/23/2015


Amid push to cut coal, feds review mine lease program -- Santa Fe New Mexican

The Department of the Interior is leasing millions of acres of federal coal to private mining companies even as the Obama administration ramps up efforts to curb greenhouse gases from coal-burning power plants and natural gas pipelines under the president’s Climate Action Plan.

Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell called for a review of the federal coal lease program in a meeting in March at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“It’s important to have an honest and open conversation about modernizing the federal government’s coal program,” she said at the time. “I have heard many concerns about how the federal government leases coal, the amount of royalty charged and whether taxpayers are getting a fair return from public resources.”

In her March comments, she said, “Coal is going to continue to be an important part of our nation’s energy mix in the future. But the Government Accountability Office, our Inspector General, and Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle agree that the federal coal program needs reform.”


August 26, 2015

State Delays New Rules On Food Stamps -- KUNM/Associated Press

New Mexico is pushing back the timeline for certain low-income adults who will have to meet work and job-training requirements to remain eligible for food stamps.

State Human Services Secretary Brent Earnest told The Associated Press on Tuesday his department decided to delay implementation of the requirements and make some changes in response to concerns voiced during recent public meetings.

The final rules will be published Friday, and Earnest says the delay in implementation will give the state and the 60,000 recipients who will be affected more time to prepare. -- 8/26/2015


Crime Program Aims To Close Trust Gap Between Government, Tribes -- NPR

The Justice Department is trying to make it easier for Native American tribes to gain access to national crime databases. Federal authorities say the program could prevent criminals from buying guns and help keep battered women and foster children safe.

Under the Justice Department pilot program, 10 tribal communities will get their own hardware and training, so they don't need to rely on local authorities. -- 8/25/2015

August 20, 2015

Six new cases of West Nile confirmed in El Paso areaEl Paso Times

While the monsoon season continues to hit El Paso — creating exceptional breeding conditions for mosquitoes — officials are urging residents to take precautions after six new West Nile cases were reported by the El Paso Department of Health.

People who get ill from the virus could experience fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, rashes, vomiting and swollen glands, officials said. Some people could suffer through more severe symptoms which include severe headache, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, decreased level of alertness, muscle weakness, tremors, paralysis, convulsions or even going into coma, officials said. - - 8/20/15


Navajo farmers reject water delivered by EPA contractorLas Cruces Sun News

Navajo farmers in northwestern New Mexico have rejected a water delivery to tribal communities meant to sustain crops after a mine spill, saying the tanks holding the water appear unclean.

The water in about a dozen tanks set up on the reservation was trucked in from Bloomfield, New Mexico — a water supply unaffected by the Aug. 5 leak of toxic waste from the abandoned Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colorado. The water meets all federal and state water quality standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. - - 8/19/15