Blowing White Sands Spotted From Space

From -New Mexico's glistening white gypsum dunes, which cover 275 square miles (712 square kilometers), are the largest gypsum dune fields on the planet. The snow-white sands are easily spotted from space; astronauts could see the dune fields on their way to the moon. This photograph was snapped by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station on Feb. 28, 2012. Here, winds have lifted vast plumes of the rare, white mineral into the air, sending them more than 70 miles (112 km) eastward, stretching in white clouds out over the Sacramento Mountains, which are dappled with snow. On this day in late February, the winds were brisk enough to whip the gypsum to heights of nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).

NM Supreme Court Upholds Luevano Ruling

From -The New Mexico Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that a state legislative candidate is ineligible to run for the post held by state Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas. The Albuquerque Journal reports that Maestas had challenged the candidacy of Johnny Luevano and claimed that Luevano wasn't a district resident on the legally required date. Maestas had challenged the candidacy of Johnny Luevano and claimed that Luevano wasn't a district resident on the legally required date.  A district court's ruling in Maestas's favor led Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver to remove Luevano's name from the ballot. Luevano then filed an appeal and claimed he was eligible to run because of a federal law that allows service members to establish a legal residency in a state while they are serving elsewhere.  More here

First Lady Obama to visit Kirtland AFB on Tuesday

From - First Lady Michelle Obama will be making a trip to the Land of Enchantment on Tuesday. Mrs. Obama will meet and honor service members at Kirtland Air Force base Tuesday afternoon. As part of her visit, Mrs. Obama will be honoring Air Force Tech Sergeant Jordan Bishopp. He was named one of the 12 outstanding airmen of the year in 2011. After visiting Bishop and other soldier at Kirtland, she will then deliver remarks at a private fundraiser before heading back to Washington D.C. Read more

Swickard: City gives green light to red light tyranny

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Recently Albuquerque disbanded their red-light camera system. But the City of Las Cruces last week decided tyranny was in order. Those who do not pay red-light camera fines will find their water and natural gas turned off. The city claims they are forced to get rough with the citizens. Now my air conditioner requires water to work. They intend to turn off my air conditioning going into the summer heat season. How reasonable is that? Know this: the City of Las Cruces has no business being involved in utilities if they can shut off the utilities for reasons outside of the delivery of service. The Public Regulation Commission needs to take all utilities away from them. The city has shown it is an unworthy steward of the public trust. Likewise, the leadership of Las Cruces must go, they are not worthy of the trust the citizens put in them when they placed the leadership in authority. It is time for the State of New Mexico to take over the city management. Taking away the ability to cool a home in the heat of summer could lead to inadvertent citizen deaths. The citizens are being put at mortal risk by the leadership’s shortsighted use of tyranny to satisfy their need for money. Hopefully, the state can restore the right of citizens to receive their life-preserving utilities. Read column


Mexico will press charges against US trucker in ammo case

From the El Paso - By Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera - The U.S. trucker who was detained this week by Mexican authorities with 268,000 rounds of ammunition has been taken to Mexico City by federal investigators specializing in organized crime. Jabin Akeem Bogan, 27, was flown to Mexico City on Thursday morning by personnel of the organized crime special investigation unit of the Mexican Attorney General's Office, or PGR, said José Angel Torres Valadez, spokes man for the agency in the northern region.  The investigation will continue there, he said. Mexican federal prosecutors will press charges against the U.S. trucker who may have accidentally crossed into Juárez with 268,000 rounds of ammunition last week, a source familiar with the investigation said on Monday. The source, who requested not to be identified because he is not authorized to disclose the information, said Jabin Akeem Bogan, 27, will face charges for violation of provisions within Mexico's antigun laws.  The source said it was unclear under which provisions he would be charged, but it is possible he will be accused with possession of cartridges of exclusive use by the military.  Read more

PNM submits pay-as-you-go renewable plan

From the Santa Fe New - Public Service Co. of New Mexico is proposing to charge customers extra on their bills as electricity generated from solar, wind and geothermal systems become available.The proposal is among several made in a 2013-2014 renewable energy plan the company filed with the Public Regulation Commission on Monday afternoon. The commission will hold public hearings before voting on approving, amending or denying the plan. New Mexico requires public and investor-owned utilities to meet standards for renewable energy every year. PNM, the state's largest utility, lags in meeting the standards currently. The company claims it was unable to meet the standard without going over a reasonable cost threshold established by the PRC. Among PNM's proposed sources of renewable energy through 2014:  • PNM would buy geothermal energy from the Lightning Dock geothermal project near Lordsburg under a proposed 20-year contract. • PNM would add 20 megawatts of new solar energy capacity by adding photovoltaic panels to the company's facilities in Los Lunas, Alamogordo and Deming. Currently, PNM owns 22 megawatts of solar capacity. • Customers could install up to 9 megawatts of solar capacity on their rooftops, tied into the main PNM grid, under the plan and receive renewable energy credits from the company. Read more

Marita Noon: Crucifying Oil and Gas on a Cross Made of You and Me

Marita Noon, Energy Makes America
From - Commentary by Marita Noon, Energy Makes America - The revelation of the EPA’s “philosophy” used in their regulation of oil and gas companies—“crucify” and “make examples” of, just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience—provides proof of what many have known: policy decisions are made on ideology and emotion rather than fact, sound science, and economic or human impact. For this, we should all be grateful to Al Armendariz, EPA Administrator for Region 6. His honesty, in a 2010 video made public on April 26, allows us all a glimpse behind the shroud. Armendariz has been making, according to Senator James Inhofe, “comments specifically intended to incite fear and sway public opinion against hydraulic fracturing.” In Thursday’s hearing, Inhofe says Amendariz frequently claimed a “danger of fire or explosion.” Inhofe cited the Parker County Texas case as the “most outrageous.” There, in 2010, Armendariz’s region issued an Emergency Administrative Order against Range Resources—overriding the Texas state regulators who were already investigating the claim that hydraulic fracturing was contaminating well water. “Along with this order, EPA went on a publicity barrage in an attempt to publicize its premature and unjustified conclusions,” Inhofe said. The Emergency Administrative Order was dropped earlier this month, but was done, as Inhofe called it, by “strategically attempting to make these announcements as quietly as possible.” Both the EPA and the White House are trying to distance themselves from the Armendariz comments. Cynthia Giles, the EPA's assistant administrator in charge of enforcement said, “Inevitably, some will try to imply that the unfortunate and inaccurate words of one regional official represent this Agency's policy. Rest assured that they do not—and no honest examination of our record could equate our commonsense approach with such an exaggerated claim.” Yet, history shows that the Armendariz model is used more frequently than most would believe. Read Marita Noon column

PRC could get involved in Las Cruces red-light camera/utility flap

Pat Lyons
News New Mexico Note: Commissioner Lyons will be a special guest tomorrow morning Tuesday 5/1/12 8:30am to discuss this issue. Capitol Report New Mexico -  
The chairman of the Public Regulation Commission says he wants the state agency that regulates utilities to look into a controversial program that the city of Las Cruces has established that would turn off the water, sewage and gas services of those who are delinquent in paying citations from the city’s red-light camera program. “That’s unacceptable,” commissioner Pat Lyons said by telephone on Monday (April 30) to Capitol Report New Mexico. “Water and heating, those are necessities, not luxuries.” Citing a section of the municipal code that states, “The city may decline, fail or cease to furnish utility service to any person who may be in debt to the city for any reason, except ad valorem taxes and special assessments,” Las Cruces officials sent out letters earlier this month to people who haven’t paid their citations from red-light cameras that if they don’t cough up the money (or make “satisfactory payment arrangements”) they could get their water, sewage and gas services turned off. “It’s the law,” Las Cruces city spokesman Udell Vigil told KVIA-TV, adding, “If you don’t pay for it and let it go on for a long time, you get your utilities turned off.” The fine for running a red light or speeding through a lighted intersection where a red light camera is located is $100 per violation. A $25 default fee will be added if the fine is not paid within the 35-day period stated on the citation and the city says some $2 million in delinquent fines are owed. The system is operated by Redflex Traffic Systems, an Australian-based company that installed the system in Las Cruces three years ago. Lyons, who had not heard of the Las Cruces program before Capitol Report New Mexico informed him of it, said he’ll bring up the issue at the PRC’s Tuesday morning meeting. “I’ll discuss it with our department attorney,” Lyons said. “We’ll see what we can do.” Read More:  News New Mexico


Al “crucify them” Armendariz resigns from EPA, same guy accused of dragging his feet in NM generator dispute

Al Armendariz
Capitol Report New Mexico - Environmental Protection Agency administrator Al Armendarizresigned from the federal agency on Sunday (April 29), saying in a letter to EPA boss Lisa Jackson, “I have come to the conclusion that my continued service will distract you and  the agency from its important work.” Armendariz caused a firestorm last week when a videotape from 2010 surfaced of him comparing enforcement of EPA rules on the oil and gas industry to practices he described of ancient Romans who, Armendariz said,  would enter a colony and “crucify” the first five men they saw as an example to potential lawbreakers. Back on Friday, Capitol Report New Mexico pointed out that an official from New Mexico’s Environment Department specifically cited that Armendariz had been dragging his feet in a dispute the state is having with the EPA regarding the San Juan Generating Station’s coal-fired plant located in the northwest part of the state. Read More News New Mexico


New Mexico is in a slog toward economic recovery

KOBNew Mexico remains in a slog toward economic recovery. The Albuquerque Journal reports that economic data for the second half of 2011 shows New Mexico's job creation numbers are troubling but may be improving. The state's personal income numbers are encouraging, unless you count business owners' income. And unemployment numbers have been a moving target. The data reported by the newspaper and compiled by the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research suggest that the state's economy is improving. Unemployment averaged 8.2 percent in the third quarter of 2011, 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter and 7.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Read More News New Mexico


Elephant Butte Dam: Irrigation shaped Mesilla Valley's history

Elephant Butte Dam
Las Cruces Sun-News For almost a century, the Rio Grande has come to a stop at what was once the largest man-made reservoir in the world. From there, through the spillway of the Elephant Butte Dam, the river waters become part of a complex irrigation network feeding farms and orchards from Rincon to the El Paso Valley. With the beginning of another dry irrigation season this week, farmers already know they'll be getting precious little — in most cases, the equivalent of one good irrigation — of that river water this year. Yet without Elephant Butte, it's possible some wouldn't be getting any at all. Before the dam, the Rio Grande was a naturally flowing ribbon of water. But it was erratic, either flowing strong or at a trickle. In 1902, the newly created U.S. Reclamation Service assumed control over a proposed dam some wanted built 90 miles north of Las Cruces. That dam would impact the growth, development and history of the Mesilla Valley like nothing else. Read More News New Mexico


Wiener rejects calls for his resignation

Michael Weiner
NMPolitics.netDespite calls for his resignation from Gov. Susana Martinez and others in his own party, Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener says he’ll let voters decide his fate. “While I may have exercised poor judgment while on vacation, I have broken no laws and brought no harm to anyone except for myself,” the Albuquerque Journal quoted the Republican as saying. “To suspend my campaign or step down from the office I was duly elected to would be tantamount to an admission that I had done something wrong when the fact is I have not.” “There’s an election in 37 days and if the people at that time want to pick somebody else to represent them on the county commission, that’s certainly the way a democracy works that we all belong to,” KOB-TV quoted him as saying. “And I’m going to let the voters in my district speak rather than a few elected officials.” Wiener was photographed posing with several scantily-clad women in a sex-tourism area in the Philippines by a photographer documenting sexual exploitation. The commissioner says he was simply walking through the area while on a flight layover. Former Chamber of Commerce Chairman Lonnie Talbert is running against Wiener in the June primary and was endorsed last week by the governor. No Democrats are in the race. Others calling for Wiener to resign include Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, most of Wiener’s colleagues on the county commission and the Albuquerque Journal editorial board. Read More News New Mexico