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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 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

August 11, 2015

Governor Martinez Declares State Of Emergency For River Spill -- KUNM

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has declared an emergency that frees up state funds to address a massive spill of wastewater from a Colorado mine into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Federal officials say more than 3 million gallons of water tainted with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals contaminated the rivers following last week's spill.

Under the governor's order, $750,000 in state funds will be available for well testing, long-term studies and other efforts.

The amount is in addition to $500,000 in emergency funds the New Mexico Environment Department requested and received Friday. -- 8/11/2015

 

Google to pay $1M as Titan leaves NM -- Albuquerque Journal

Google Inc. will repay the state nearly $1 million in economic assistance funds – the full amount the computer giant owes after pulling subsidiary Titan Aerospace out of Moriarty, New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said Monday. -- 8/11/2015

August 14, 2015

New Mexico green chile growers want new guest worker programSanta Fe New Mexican

Ed Ogaz and his family have farmed for decades in New Mexico’s famed Hatch Valley — an area known internationally for its green chiles. But in recent years, Ogaz has watched helplessly as the spicy staple has seen a decline because of drought, increased competition and a lack of chile pickers.

Ogaz and other New Mexico growers say a new guest worker program is needed to provide temporary immigrant laborers in order for farmers to survive the decline.

“I think we need a new Bracero program. I honestly do,” Ogaz said, referring to the temporary guest worker program that allowed millions of Mexican immigrants to toil on U.S. farms from 1942-64. “We just don’t have a lot of young people getting into the business, and it’s hard to find workers.”

New Mexico Chile Commission chairman Rick Ledbetter said the federal government’s limited guest worker program doesn’t provide enough labor to do the hand-picking required to avoid bruising green chiles.

“I don’t even grow green chile commercially. I can’t,” said Ledbetter, who operates a farm in Portales.

Last year, New Mexico saw a 10 percent decline in acres of red and green chiles harvested. That decline marked a 43-year low in the state, according to federal numbers.

Despite marketing efforts and the desirability of New Mexico chiles to national suppliers, federal numbers show the value of New Mexico red and green chiles was estimated at $38.7 million in 2014, compared with $49.5 million in 2013. – 8/14/2015

For More Information on New Mexico Chile Pepper production, recipes and statistics:

New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute

New Mexico Chile for Dummies

 

August 7, 2014

1M gallons of waste in Animas River threatens New Mexico water supply -- KRQE

A mine waste spill inadvertently caused by environmental cleanup work spewed about a million gallons of orange-colored discharge into a tributary of the Animas River on Wednesday.

New Mexico towns such as Farmington and Aztec are taking precautionary measures to protect their water supplies as the contamination makes its way downstream.

The Bureau of Reclamation said they will begin at 7:00 a.m. releasing water from the Navajo Dam to dilute the water and sediment that will be entering the San Juan River from the Animas River.

Although the area has not been shut done, officials discourage people from getting in the water until the slug of sediment and discoloration passes the Farmington area.

According to a spokesman for Governor Martinez, Chris Sanchez, the spill occurred Wednesday morning, but the state of New Mexico was not notified until the following day. The news was provided by an official from the Southern Ute Tribe, not by the Environmental Protection Agency. -- 8/7/2015