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May 11, 2015

Rio Grande to flow in southern New Mexico starting Monday – KOB/Associated Press

Elephant Butte, NM -- Federal officials say the Rio Grande will start flowing through southern New Mexico on Monday as releases from two reservoirs begin, marking the start of the irrigation season.

The Bureau of Reclamation says an initial release of water from Caballo Reservoir will begin at 6 a.m. Monday and be increased on May 26.

Releases from Elephant Butte Reservoir also begin Monday morning, and the bureau says that means what is now a dry river between the two reservoirs will be flooded.           

Rio Grande Project water is used to irrigate lands in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in southern New Mexico and in the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 in west Texas and Mexico.     

Project water is also used for municipal and industrial purposes by El Paso, Texas. -- 5/8/2015

May 7, 2015

GAO: Waste of natural gas costs taxpayers millions -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Significant amounts of natural gas on federal lands are being wasted, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year and adding to harmful greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office also said the Bureau of Land Management failed to conduct production inspections for hundreds of high-priority oil and gas wells — roughly 1 out of 5 — to ensure full payment of royalties to the U.S.


PRC says its hands may be tied on ride sharing -- Albuquerque Journal

Uber wants state regulators to backtrack on recent rules governing ride-sharing services in New Mexico —  and Lyft says it will suspend operations – but the commissioners who approved the rules say state law may tie their hands.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 4-1 for reforms to the Motor Carrier Act on April 21 to allow ride-sharing companies to operate as “specialized passenger services” with more relaxed regulations than what applies to taxi companies.

On Monday, Uber’s local subsidiary, Hinter-NM, filed a motion asking the PRC for a rehearing to roll back some of those amendments and to alter others without necessarily repealing them. Hinter said that without changes, the reforms are “fundamentally flawed.” It called the approval process “arbitrary, capricious, and violative of due process” because there was insufficient opportunity for parties to comment prior to PRC action.

Lyft, meanwhile, said it will “pause” operations starting May 14 because the regulations “make it exceedingly difficult” to continue working here.


N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Is Illegal, Appeals Court Rules -- New York Times

A federal appeals court in New York on Thursday ruled that the once-secret National Security Agency program that is systematically collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal. The decision comes as a fight in Congress is intensifying over whether to end and replace the program, or to extend it without changes.

In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act known as Section 215 cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records.

May 1, 2015

Feds reach $73 million settlement with New Mexico over radiation leakLas Cruces Sun News

The Energy Department will funnel more than $73 million toward road and water projects around New Mexico as part of a settlement over a radiation leak that forced the indefinite closure of a troubled nuclear waste dump.

The agreement, announced by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and state Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn, follows months of tense and slow negotiations.

The settlement is the largest ever reached between a state and the department, Flynn said, noting that the agency needed to be held accountable for putting people at risk. - - 5/1/15


President Obama Announces New Library Initiatives -- Library Journal

At a visit to Washington, DC’s Anacostia Neighborhood Library on April 30, President Barack Obama announced two new initiatives that promise to rally America’s libraries, publishers, and nonprofit organizations to strengthen learning opportunities for all children, particularly in low-income communities. The plan, dubbed the ConnectED Library Challenge, will engage civic leaders, libraries, and schools to work together to ensure that all school students receive public library cards. Commitments from 30 library systems are already in place.

As part of an effort to provide broad access to digital content, the Open eBooks Initiative has secured a promise from the “Big Five” publishers and a number of independent presses to provide $250 million in free ebooks to low-income students. Some 10,000 popular titles will be made available over the next three years, and libraries have joined forces with nonprofits to create an app to deliver the content, as well as material from the public domain.

The new programs are an outgrowth of the president’s original ConnectED initiative, announced two years ago with the goal of transforming teaching and learning through digital connectivity and content. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is investing $5 million in support of the ereader app, as well as tools and services to help the public more easily access ebooks and other digital content.

May 4, 2015

State approves two solar arrays in southern NMLas Cruces Sun News

Southern New Mexico is moving closer to being a renewable-energy powerhouse.

In late April, Aubrey Dunn, the NM state's land commissioner, announced that NextEra Energy Resources, a Florida-based company heavily invested in renewable energy, has been awarded a bid to develop solar power array projects on state trust lands in Doña Ana and Otero counties.

The two projects include a 50-megawatt solar array located on 640 acres of state trust land in Doña Ana County, some 6.4 miles west of Santa Teresa. A second array, expected to be the largest in the state, will generate 150 megawatts of electricity on 2,770 acres in Otero County. The Otero County solar power array is expected to be three times larger than the largest existing solar array at Macho Springs in Luna County, also located on state trust land. - - 5/4/15

April 27, 2015

New Mexico leaders push for high-level nuclear wasteSanta Fe New Mexican

Since 2012, the city of Carlsbad has spent about $260,000 on lobbyists to try to persuade members of Congress to consider the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance’s parcel as a waste storage site, according to analysis of lobbyist records by the Center for Responsive Politics.

At first glance, the barren stretch of desert between Carlsbad and Hobbs in southeastern New Mexico seems unfit for any kind of industry. But this rugged, nondescript patch of land is poised to be the focus of the next national conversation about how to dispose of the country’s most dangerous nuclear waste.

The state took a crucial step this month toward accepting such waste, which other Western states have shunned, when Gov. Susana Martinez quietly signaled to the Obama administration that New Mexico would welcome it. – 4/25/2015


New Report: Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation -- National Academies Press

The massive increase in digital information in the last decade has created new requirements for institutional and technological structures and workforce skills. Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation focuses on education and training needs to meet the demands for access to and meaningful use of digital information, now and in the future. This study identifies the various practices and spectrum of skill sets that comprise digital curation, looking in particular at human versus automated tasks. Additionally, the report examines the possible career path demands and options for professionals working in digital curation activities, and analyzes the economic benefits and societal importance of digital curation for competitiveness, innovation, and scientific advancement. Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation considers the evolving roles and models of digital curation functions in research organizations, and their effects on employment opportunities and requirements. The recommendations of this report will help to advance digital curation and meet the demand for a trained workforce. Authors include: Committee on Future Career Opportunities and Educational Requirements for Digital Curation; Board on Research Data and Information; Policy and Global Affairs; National Research Council. -- 4/26/2015