Pentagon eyes cut in danger pay

From the San Angelo Standard-Times The Pentagon is eyeing plans to eliminate danger pay for service members in as many as 18 countries and five waterways around the world, saving about $120 million each year while taking a bite out of troops’ salaries, The Associated Press has learned.
     Senior defense and military leaders are expected to meet later this week to review the matter and are poised to approve a new plan. Pentagon press secretary George Little declined to discuss details but said no final decisions have been made.
     Senior military leaders came up with the proposed list of locations in their regions that no longer were perilous enough to warrant danger pay, including several countries in the heart of the tumultuous Middle East, such as Jordan, where hundreds of troops have recently deployed because of the bloody Syrian civil war on its border.
     Defense officials said the proposal would strip the stipend — which can be up to $225 per month — from as many as 56,000 service members, including thousands stationed in Kuwait, which was a key hub during the Iraq War. It also would affect thousands of sailors who routinely travel through the Persian Gulf region on ships or airmen who fly over the Gulf.
     The $225 monthly cut in pay would come regardless of the service member’s base salary, which can range from a low of roughly $18,000 a year for a brand new recruit to a high of nearly $235,000 a year for a four-star general with more than 40 years in the military. Troops also can receive a variety of other allowances for housing, clothing or job specialties.Read more

NM declines quick approval of WIPP expansion

The state of New Mexico has declined the Department of Energy's request for quick approval of a proposal to bring radioactive waste from Washington state's Hanford Nuclear Reservation to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. 
Instead, the New Mexico Environment Department says it will hold public hearings before any decisions are made. 
Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn in a statement Monday evening said the decision will ensure that "the public's views are carefully considered" before the state acts on the Department of Energy's request to modify the WIPP permit to allow the waste to be brought from Washington state. 
The DOE in March asked the department for a quick approval of a change in the WIPP permit so it can bring 3.1 million gallons from leaking waste tanks at Hanford.


USDA offers fire assistance to agricultural producers

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications for financial assistance from agricultural producers in New Mexico impacted by wildfires of 2011, 2012 and 2013 under the new Burned Lands Initiative. 
The financial assistance will help address resource concerns on private land through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). 
Applications will be accepted through Friday, July 19, 2013 for producers impacted by wildfires such as the Jaroso Fire, Las Conchas Fire, Little Bear Fire, Silver Fire, Thompson Ridge Fire, Track Fire, Tres Lagunas Fire, Wallow Fire and Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire.


Rio Grande to run dry

With the flow between Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs ending on Monday, the shortest irrigation season in the history of the Rio Grande Project is quickly coming to an end. 
Although a limited flow will continue between the two reservoirs for the next few days, there are no further releases scheduled for 2013. Flows from Caballo Reservoir for Rio Grande Project water delivery will end on July 14, which will mean the river channel between the two reservoirs and downstream of Elephant Butte will begin to dry. 
Water levels at Elephant Butte Reservoir are at a historic 40-year low. The current level is 3.1 percent of total storage capacity. Irrigators on the Rio Grande Project received an initial allotment of just six percent of a full supply this year. 
The irrigation season began on June 1.