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January 5, 2017

BLM: Verde Transmission Line proposal violates land plan -- Santa Fe New Mexican

A proposed high-voltage power line that would cross federal land northwest of Santa Fe isn’t permitted under the management plan for the land, a federal official said Wednesday.

Sarah Schlanger, field manager for the BLM’s Taos office, said that because of the visual classification of the BLM land, the management plan for the area would have to be changed for construction of the power line to move forward.

Actor and environmental activist Robert Redford, a Santa Fe County resident, raised the issue of the Class II visual rating for the BLM land in a commentary article published Sunday in The New Mexican. He highlighted the importance of the state’s open landscapes to the film industry and the economic benefit created as a result. -- 1/5/2017


Nuke dump disposes of first drums of waste in three years -- Albuquerque Journal

Employees at the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository resumed disposal work Wednesday after a nearly three-year hiatus prompted by a radiation release that contaminated a significant portion of the facility.

Two pallets of low-level radioactive waste were emplaced in one of the underground disposal rooms at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico around 12:45 p.m., the U.S. Energy Department confirmed.

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and other officials are expected to celebrate the reopening with a ribbon-cutting event Monday. -- 1/5/2017


January 4, 2017

New Mexico still ranks near bottom for education quality -- Santa Fe New Mexican

Public school students in New Mexico have the poorest chance for success among students nationwide because of factors such as the state’s high poverty rate, its low graduation rate and its students failing to meet goals in reading and math, according to a new report.

A bright spot is that New Mexico does better than most states when it comes to equitably funding public schools across all districts, says the annual Quality Counts report by the national Education Week magazine.

Overall, New Mexico received a grade of D and ranked 49th in the report released Wednesday. Quality Counts grades states and the District of Columbia on how well they prepare students for college and careers, how states fare in terms of supporting student achievement and how they manage their education dollars. -- 1/4/2017


Investment returns to boost money for schools -- Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico’s bleak financial situation could see a ray of light in the coming budget year, as positive investment returns are expected to lead to roughly $60 million in additional funds for public schools, hospitals and other programs from the state’s two large permanent funds.

The two funds – the Land Grant Permanent Fund and the Severance Tax Permanent Fund – make annual distributions to the state to help offset spending on education, health care and other programs. The funds are managed by the New Mexico State Investment Council. -- 1/4/2017


How to Become a ‘Superager’ -- New York Times SundayReview

Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline? “Superagers” (a term coined by the neurologist Marsel Mesulam) are those whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds. Massachusetts General Hospital recently studied superagers to understand what made them tick.

How do you become a superager? Which activities, if any, will increase your chances of remaining mentally sharp into old age? We’re still studying this question, but our best answer at the moment is: work hard at something. Many labs have observed that these critical brain regions increase in activity when people perform difficult tasks, whether the effort is physical or mental. You can therefore help keep these regions thick and healthy through vigorous exercise and bouts of strenuous mental effort. -- 12/31/2016


January 3, 2017

Protection sought for New Mexico park’s geothermal deposits -- Santa Fe New Mexican/Associated Press

Underground pockets of boiling water and steam in a Northern New Mexico national preserve that represent the heart of an ancient collapsed volcano could get extra federal protection under a proposal by the National Park Service to limit or prevent any negative effects from tapping geothermal energy on neighboring land.

Federal officials said last week that the Valles Caldera National Preserve would become the 17th U.S. park unit with designated thermal features, if approved. A monthlong public comment period will end Jan. 26. -- 1/3/2017


December 29, 2016

FBI, DHS release report on Russia hacking -- The Hill

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday released a joint report detailing how federal investigators linked the Russian government to hacks of Democratic Party organizations.

The 13-page report provides technical details regarding tools and infrastructure used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services to “compromise and exploit networks and endpoints associated with the U.S. election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities.”  -- 12/29/2016

December 28, 2016

With new monuments in Nevada, Utah, Obama adds to his environmental legacy -- Washington Post

President Obama on Tuesday created new national monuments in a sacred tribal site in southeastern Utah and in a swath of Nevada desert, after years of political fights over the fate of the sites. -- 12/28/2016

December 27, 2016

Gust of wind-generated energy sweeping toward NM -- Albquerque Journal

Energy developers are tapping into New Mexico’s billowing wind energy potential, with plans to double installed generating capacity from wind farms throughout the state’s gusty eastern plains in the next few years.

More than a gigawatt of wind capacity is now under construction or planned in New Mexico, said Jeremy Lewis, bureau chief for the energy, conservation and management division at the state Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department. -- 12/27/2016

December 23,2016

New Mexico OKs reopening of troubled nuclear dump -- Santa Fe New Mexican/Associated Press

New Mexico regulators have approved restarting normal operations at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository, a major step for U.S. officials aiming to reopen the facility nearly three years after a radiation leak shut it down indefinitely. -- 12/23/2016


Obama to Dismantle Visitor Registry -- New York Times

The Obama administration is dismantling a dormant national registry program for visitors from countries with active terrorist groups — a program that President-elect Donald J. Trump has suggested he is considering resurrecting.

The registry, created after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has not been in use since 2011, so the move is largely symbolic and appeared to be aimed at distancing the departing administration from any effort by the new president to revive the program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS. -- 12/22/2016