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September 29, 2015

Legislative Analysts: New Mexico's Economy Still Recovering -- KUNM/Associated Press

Legislative analysts say New Mexico's economy shows some signs of recovery but continues to struggle compared with those of neighboring states and the country as a whole.

The Legislative Council Service also said Monday that "a lot has to go right" for a recent forecast projecting modest revenue growth for the next five years to hold.

That forecast called for $293 million of additional revenue in the next fiscal year, but the service said factors determining whether the forecast stands up over time include oil prices and China's economy.


State Game Commission denies wolf release permit -- Santa Fe New Mexican

The New Mexico Game Commission has denied an appeal by federal officials who sought to release endangered Mexican gray wolves in the state as part of recovery efforts in the Southwest.

The commission expressed concern about the lack of an updated recovery plan and decided during its meeting Tuesday in Albuquerque to uphold a previous ruling by the state game and fish director. -- 9/29/2015


$20M in unspent drinking water funds for NMLas Cruces Sun News

New Mexico faces an estimated $1 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next two decades, and a review by The Associated Press shows more than $20 million in federally appropriated funds that are available to help cities and towns pay for improvements to pipelines, treatment plants and storage tanks remains unspent.

While state officials have been whittling down that amount over the last five years, it’s still enough to rank the state among the top ten when it comes to the percentage of money that goes unused.

The federal Drinking Water State Revolving Fund allows states to set aside up to 31 percent of the money they receive for operating and administrative costs. The goal is to help states comply with federal drinking water requirements. - - 9/28/2015


NM 'Could Get Hammered' By El Niño -- KUNM

Mild temperatures and the turning of the leaves are reminders that summer is officially over. In the coming months New Mexico is well positioned to trap significant amounts of moisture from the third strongest El Niño on record

Kerry Jones with the National Weather Service said even though precipitation has been a little inconsistent lately, it’s looking like El Niño could dump a ton of snow and rain across New Mexico this winter. -- 9/24/2015

September 25, 2015

$2 Million granted to New Mexico Native American schools -- KRQE

Friday, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham welcomed news that the Native American Community Academy (NACA) Foundation is receiving a highly competitive $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to launch and maintain five schools in New Mexico Native communities.

The funding will support five schools in Gallup, Santa Clara Pueblo, Shiprock, Eastern Cibola County and on the Navajo Nation. Based on a model pioneered by the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, the schools focus on preparing and encouraging Native American students to attend college while maintaining Native culture, language and community. A total of $472,806 will be awarded in the first year, and the grant is expected to be renewed at $523,222 for years 2-4 if the schools continue to meet the grant’s objectives. The network plans to serve a total of 1,080 students by the fourth year. -- 9/25/2015

September 21, 2015

As Fires Grow, a New Landscape Appears in the West -- The New York Times

NEAR COCHITI CANYON, NEW MEXICO — The hills here are beautiful, a rolling, green landscape of grasses and shrubs under a late-summer sky. But it is starkly different from what was here before: vast forests of ponderosa pine. The repeated blazes that devastated the trees were caused by simple things: an improperly extinguished campfire in 1996, a tree falling on a power line in 2011.

What happened after the fire, however — or, more accurately, what has not happened — was a departure from the normal course of events.

“We are in the middle of this 30,000-acre, near-treeless hole,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey. If historical patterns had held, the remaining pines would by now be preparing seeds to drop and start the cycle of regrowth.

The Forest Service struggles under an increasingly costly mission: According to a report released last month, firefighting takes up more than 50 percent of its annual budget, up from 16 percent a decade ago. In 10 years, it could consume three quarters of its budget. Climate change has lengthened fire seasons, which are, on average, 78 days longer than they were in 1970, and the six worst fire seasons since 1960 have come since 2000.


Trinity downwinders decry secrecy in new federal study of atomic test’s health impacts -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Seventy years after the top-secret explosion of the world’s first nuclear device in the Southern New Mexico desert, advocates for New Mexicans who say radioactive fallout from the Trinity Site test made them ill are growing increasingly wary of what they say is a new round of government secrecy, even as they are finally getting attention from the government after years of having their complaints ignored.

This new uneasiness was apparent as they met in Santa Fe last week with National Cancer Institute researchers who are making the first attempt to document possible doses of radiation received by individuals across the state and assess the health risks. -- 9/19/2015


September 18, 2015

Pew Study Affirms Vital Role of Libraries -- District Dispatch, ALA Washington Office

Libraries are transforming amidst the changing information landscape and a report released this week by the Pew Research Center, Libraries at the Crossroads, affirms the evolving role of public libraries within their communities as vital resources that advance education and digital empowerment.

“Although the report affirms the value of public libraries, the ALA recognizes the need for greater public awareness of the transformation of library services, as the report shows library visits over the past three years have slightly decreased. In response, libraries of all types are preparing for the launch of a national public awareness campaign entitled ‘Libraries Transform.’ -- 9/16/2015


YouTube ‘Dancing Baby’ Copyright Ruling Sets Fair Use Guideline -- The New York Times

In February 2007, Stephanie Lenz, a mother in Gallitzin, Pa., went on YouTube and uploaded a 29-second video of her toddler dancing while Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy” played in the background.

Prince’s publishers objected, Ms. Lenz filed a lawsuit, and for more than eight years the case has been symbolic of the clashes over copyright online.

On Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, cleared the way for the case to go to trial, and set a guideline that may change the way media companies police their holdings online. In its decision, the three-judge panel ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use before asking services like YouTube to remove videos that include material they control. -- 9/14/2015

September 17, 2015

Feds to pay $940M to settle claims over tribal contracts -- Associated Press

The Obama administration has agreed to pay a group of Native American tribes nearly $1 billion to settle a decades-old claim that the government failed to adequately compensate tribes while they managed education, law enforcement and other federal services.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Justice Department officials plan to announce the proposed class-action settlement Thursday along with leaders from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Zuni Pueblo and Ramah Chapter of the Navajo Nation. They are among the lead plaintiffs in a contract-dispute lawsuit filed in 1990.

The $940 million proposed payout would represent the latest in a string of major settlements between tribes and the federal government in the last five years. It still must be approved in U.S. district court. -- 9/17/2015


CIA Releases Declassified Secret President's Daily Brief -- NPR Morning Edition

The President's Daily Brief is one of the most secretive documents in Washington. The CIA has made public hundreds of briefs covering 8 years during John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson's presidencies.

The 2,500 President's Daily Briefs went live on the CIA website yesterday. An agency official says about 20 percent of the documents are redacted to protect methods and sources. The agency plans to release 2,000 more PDBs next year, from the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. -- 9/17/2015


CDC Says Flu Vaccine Should Be More Effective This Season -- NPR

Last year's flu vaccine didn't work very well. This year's version should do a much better job protecting people against the flu, federal health officials said Thursday.

An analysis of the most common strains of flu virus that are circulating in the United States and elsewhere found they match the strains included in this year's vaccine, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for people 6 months and older. The flu season in the U.S. can start as early as October and stretch into May. Cases typically peak between December and February. -- 9/17/2015


September 15, 2015

Governor Susana Martinez Unveils New State Energy Plan -- New Mexico Governor's Office Press Release

Governor Susana Martinez unveiled a sweeping new energy policy and implementation plan for the State of New Mexico, entitled: “Seizing our Energy Potential: Creating a More Diverse Economy in New Mexico.” Among other things, the blueprint calls for an “all of the above” approach to energy development that promotes the production of all sources of energy as a means of creating jobs, diversifying a key sector of our economy, and supporting our nation's efforts to achieve energy independence.

“New Mexico is one of the most energy-rich and energy-diverse states in the nation, and we have an excellent opportunity to utilize this position to grow our economy and create more jobs,” said Governor Martinez. “Improving our energy infrastructure, responsibly developing and producing energy of all types, and better preparing our workforce for the needs of our energy sector are all critical components not only of a strong economic future, but of helping lead America to energy independence.”

New Mexico’s 2015 Energy Policy and Implementation Plan is the first comprehensive energy policy for the state in nearly 25 years. -- 9/14/2015

September 11, 2015

Important Land And Water Conservation Funding Act Set To Expire -- KSFR

Conservationists and state representatives gathered earlier this week at the Valles Caldera – a sprawling 89-thousand acre preserve in northern New Mexico- to discuss the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. This fund, which has preserved land in every state funding more than 40000 state and local conservation projects, is set to expire at the end of the month. Senator Tom Udall was among those gathered. -- 9/11/2015


Basin Study Projects Shortfall in Future Water Supply for Santa Fe Basin in New Mexico  -- Globe NewsWire

The Bureau of Reclamation released a study of the Santa Fe Basin that found that the water supply for Santa Fe, absent implementation of new strategies, is not adequate to meet future demands even without the influence of climate change. 

The Santa Fe Basin Study identifies shortages in the water supply and potential adaptation strategies to meet the water needs described in the basin's 40-year water demand projections. The area's population is expected to increase about 80 percent by 2055 and, unless action is taken, would be expected to result in a shortfall of about 5,155 acre-feet of water per year, the amount of water that provides for more than 20,000 people. When different climate change scenarios were incorporated into the study, water shortfalls of between 6,342 acre-feet to 9,323 acre-feet per year were projected.  -- 9/10/2015