Rage and Ruin in the Reign of the EPA

Marita Noon
Marita Noon - The riots, rage, and ruin that have spread throughout the Middle East over the past few days emphasize the urgency of opening up and bringing online America’s vast resources—yet, as Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX) states: “The EPA is the biggest obstacle to energy independence.”
Olson’s comment specifically addressed the Hydraulic Fracturing Study requested by Congress as a part of the FY 2010 appropriations bill, which states:
“The conferees urge the Agency to carry out a study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water, using a credible approach that relies on the best available science, as well as independent sources of information. The conferees expect the study to be conducted through a transparent, peer-reviewed process that will ensure the validity and accuracy of the data. The Agency shall consult with other Federal agencies as well as appropriate State and interstate regulatory agencies in carrying out the study, which should be prepared in accordance with the Agency's quality assurance principles.”
A study “on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water” sounds like a great idea. No one wants their drinking water filled with toxic elements, and, if the EPA followed the mandate, a work of global importance could result. American private enterprise and initiative has lead the world in developing and implementing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques that are safe and are uniquely responsible for totally transforming the energy landscape—making previously unrecoverable resources, recoverable. Therefore, the final study from the EPA has worldwide implications for oil and natural gas supplies. It must be done right. Read More News New Mexico


Man accused of pulling gun on neighbor

NewsNM: Swickard - And the charges should include being stupid in public for both of them. From KRQE-TV.com -  A senior citizen in Hobbs is facing charges for allegedly pulling a gun on his neighbor.  Police say 65-year-old Robert Buss was working on a motorcycle in his driveway when his neighbor came over to complain saying he was throwing sparks into his yard.  When buss refused to stop the neighbor grabbed a hose and started squirting Buss.  That is when police say Buss went inside and got his gun and then pointed it at his neighbor.  He is charged with aggravated assault. Read more

DOT to sell surplus equipment such as snowplows

NewsNM: Swickard - going to be a big winter since they are selling snowplows, eh? From the Santa Fe New Mexican - (AP) The state Department of Transportation plans to sell surplus equipment ranging from bulldozers and snowplows to cars, mini-vans and four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles. An auction is scheduled Sept. 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the department’s District 5 office, which is on the south side of Santa Fe. The agency says more than 1,000 items will be sold, including dump trucks, pickup trucks, road graders, trailers, mowers as well as office furniture and electronics. The equipment can be viewed at the District 5 office on Sept. 27-28. A partial listing of the equipment also is available on the auctioneer’s web site (http://bit.ly/RS8cKZ). Read more


Hunters shot at after stumbling upon pot farm

From KOB-TV.com - Torrance County authorities are searching for several people who shot at two hunters who stumbled upon a massive marijuana growing operation in the Monzano Mountains. According to officials, four individuals allegedly fired multiple rounds of shots at two brothers when they came across several marijuana fields near Tajique Sunday night. The brothers said they were out hunting. Deputies and New Mexico State Police have been on the search for group since 6 a.m. Monday morning. They are believed to be armed. At this time, it is unsure if the individuals were just guarding the crops or if they were the ones growing the marijuana. Read more

Back to business at Ski Apache

Photo by Jeffrey Worthington/For the Ruidoso News
From the Ruidoso News - With repairs ongoing, resort officials say they will be open for Thanksgiving. Though the rows of snowcapped trees will not be as lush or full as skiers and snowboarders remember from last year, Ski Apache will be back in business and open on Thanksgiving with changes and improvements for the coming ski season. As visitors crest the final mountain ridge and watch the ski resort unfold before them, old ski lanes, freestyle terrain favorites and familiar vistas will take on a new look after the Little Bear Fire blazed through the resort in June. Justin Rowland, director of operations for the resort, said that of the 750 acres within the resort, about 60 acres had burned, less than 10 percent of the overall area, and had resulted in "no significant damage." "We did our best with snowmaking to keep (the fire) out of here," he said. "That's what kept most of it out, but we had one red flag day and the winds got to about 60 miles an hour and it got up and over the snowmakers. All it took was one day and it kicked through here. We were all up here, we started with five guys and when the fire danger backed off we had a group up, fighting spot fires and getting containment from where it had gone in." The projected estimate to repair the resort sits at about $15 million, though that may change slightly based on operating costs, he said. Read more

Indeed! Why pay taxes?


Poverty and poor grades still linked in NM schools

Under the state’s new accountability system, New Mexico schools with higher levels of poverty still generally received lower grades than their more affluent counterparts. That’s true despite the state Public Education Department’s efforts to control for the effects of poverty. State public education chief Hannah Skandera acknowledged a relationship between poverty and school grades, but she pointed to exceptions and stood by the system as a fair way to grade schools. According to a Journal analysis, all 69 schools that received “F” grades under the new system are high-poverty, defined by the federal government as those where at least half the students qualify for lunch subsidies. Among schools that received a “D,” about 95 percent are high-poverty. Conversely, only 41 percent of the 39 schools that received “A” grades are high-poverty. Overall, about 80 percent of New Mexico schools have high levels of poverty, according to the Journal analysis, which found the relationship between poverty and school grades by several different measures and methods. The PED controlled for poverty in calculating A-F grades by looking at changes over time in individual student test scores, rather than raw scores at one point in time. “One of our goals was to begin to level that playing field and begin to measure growth and improvement,” Skandera said. “Obviously, I believe we achieved that goal of finding a much better and more accurate picture, regardless of background and demographics.” Skandera pointed to studies that show an effective teacher can make a big difference for students from all backgrounds, and that teachers vary widely in how much their students’ test scores improve from year to year. “I think that’s a key piece to highlight that we often miss and go straight to poverty,” she said...


Officials battle over Dona Ana County-Las Cruces 911 center

A partnership between Dona Ana County and Las Cruces to build and operate a new 911 center is in peril because of a political and philosophical fight over its location. Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima tells the Las Cruces Sun-News city officials might consider building and operating their own emergency dispatch center. The city and county have jointly paid for operations of the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority for years. County commission chairwoman Karen Perez says she's frustrated that the location of the new center is such a political issue when everyone agrees on the need and many other issues about the new call center. The county wants the center built next to its current government center. The city is eyeing a 300-acre parcel owned by the federal government.


HIV cases on the rise om the Navajo Nation

A new report shows the number of new HIV cases on the Navajo Nation is way up in recent years. The report shows the number of new cases of the virus that causes AIDS averaged 10 per year in the 1990s and rose to about 15 new cases in 2000. There were 35 in 2010 and nearly 40 last year. The Indian Health Service, Navajo Nation Health Education Program and the Navajo AIDS Network released the new numbers last week. Both HIV and AIDS rates climbed nationally in 1980s primarily in the male homosexual population. The Navajo Nation saw its numbers follow a similar path among homosexuals a decade later. Now both Navajo men and women are being diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus.

NASA's Endeavour to fly over NM

Update: Officials now say it will more likely be Thursday - NASA’s retired space shuttle Endeavour should be visible to residents in the Las Cruces area Wednesday as it makes a low pass over White Sands Missile Range en route to its final home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Mounted atop a modified jumbo jet, the shuttle should be visible from the ground between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. as it flies from a refueling stop at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso over White Sands, said Monte Marlin, chief of public affairs for White Sands. For decades, White Sands’ Northrup Strip was an emergency landing site for the space shuttle program. On March 30, 1982, space shuttle Columbia landed on the dry lake bed — the only time a shuttle has landed in New Mexico. At sunrise today, Endeavour will depart Kennedy Space Center on a four-day trip to the California museum. Exact times of the planned flyovers will depend on weather and other factors, NASA officials said. Endeavour is the last shuttle to go to its permanent home. Discovery is housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s display hangar in Virginia. Atlantis is housed at Kennedy Space Center, and Enterprise is on display in New York City. NASA’s two other shuttles during the 30-year program, Challenger and Columbia, were destroyed during flight, resulting in the loss of 14 astronauts. Endeavour was built to replace Challenger and made its flying debut in 1992, six years after the launch accident. It performed the next-to-last shuttle mission in May and June 2011. During its 25 missions, Endeavour logged 299 days in space and circled Earth 4,671 times. Total off-the-planet mileage: 122.8 million miles...


Los Alamos begins smart grid project

As if Los Alamos needed more brain power. Now, even its electric grid is getting smart. The county’s $52 million smart grid project could help improve electric grids in cities and counties throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. “Smart grids are the way electric grids will be managed in the future, and now we’re a central testing ground for these emerging systems,” said Los Alamos County Economic Development Director Greg Fisher. “This could be a model for many other places.” Officials plan to inaugurate Los Alamos County’s new smart, green microgrid in a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning. The project would provide power from a solar panel system to 2,000 homes in Los Alamos to test how to smoothly integrate renewable energy onto the grid. Such smarts grids are appearing nationwide. 
The Los Alamos system includes:
♦ A 2 megawatt solar photovoltaic array
♦ Massive back-up battery storage system
♦ A demonstration “smart house” with intelligent appliances and energy systems that people can tour
♦ New meters on 2,000 homes for real-time monitoring of electric consumption
♦ Central command-and-control center to run the network


Man jailed for threatening Governor Martinez

 A Valencia County man facing five misdemeanor charges for allegedly harassing Gov. Susana Martinez is being held in the Santa Fe County jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond. The attorney for 61-year-old James Sanchez says his client has been on a "crusade" to protect his family from cows crossing a residential subdivision road. He left multiple messages with the Governor's Office of Constituent Services in Santa Fe using profanity and insulting language and accusing the governor of ignoring his complaints. The state claims that he has threatened Martinez's life and the lives of some of her staff in the process. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports Magistrate David Segura refused to lower bond for Sanchez at a hearing on Friday.


NM not likely to collect tax from Amazon

New Mexico has little chance of cashing in on a windfall of tax revenue from internet sales giant Amazon despite other states' success in getting the company to collect sales taxes. That's what the New Mexico Tax Research Institute's Richard Anklam tells the Santa Fe New Mexican.  Anklam says unless Congress acts to change federal laws, none of the factors allowing other states to collect taxes affect New Mexico. Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Kansas, New York and North Dakota are collecting sales taxes on their residents' Amazon purchases. California will begin receiving money from sales beginning Saturday. Internet retailers only have to collect sales taxes if they have a physical presence in a state. Amazon agreed to collect taxes in California partly because it is opening a distribution center there.


ABQ Downs cutting race schedule

The Downs at Albuquerque is citing shrinking casino revenues and a nosedive in its live betting revenues as the reason it is cutting six major state races from its fall schedule. Downs racing manager Don Coos says there's been a steady downward revenue trend since July. The New Mexico Racing Commission approved the elimination of the six stakes races at its meeting on Thursday. The Albuquerque Journal reports the Downs' 54-day race meet includes 17 days of racing it conducts for the New Mexico State Fair. The fair started Wednesday and continues through Sept. 23. Two of the stakes races were set for this weekend. They included the $25,000 State Fair Queen Stakes set for Saturday and the $25,000 Mariposa Handicap for quarter horses set for Sunday.


Child ID theft on the rise in NM

Thieves are targeting children for their social security numbers, according to authorities with the New Mexico Attorney General’s office. "Well, unfortunately we've seen an increase in crimes against child’s identity. And what we've seen is people take their social security number for financial gains," said Rebecca Branch, Deputy Director for consumer protection at the New Mexico Attorney General's office. Officials with the Attorney General’s office said child ID theft has spiked around the country over the last two years, and it’s a problem that is also growing in New Mexico. "One of the reasons is because it takes so long to detect because children aren't using their credit until they turn eighteen," said Branch. Investigators said thieves target children’s social security numbers because they are unused. Thieves then attach any name and birth date to it, according to investigators, and use the numbers to purchase homes and cars. But that’s not all, according to Branch. “If someone uses your child’s ID as a crime, they can get felonies on there,” she said. “If they work under your childs’ identity, they have tax implications.” The attorney general’s office has some tips for parents to lessen the chance of their child becoming a victim. Officials suggest checking your child’s credit, and keep all documents with your child’s information locked away in a safe place. They also suggest watching for mail in your child’s name for credit card offers because that’s an indicator the child may have an open line of credit. And if that happens, contact the New Mexico Attorney General’s office at 505-222-9000.


Chicago Strike Shows Why We Need School Choice

Townhall - It says something about today’s public education reality that the two sides in the teachers’ union dispute in Chicago are the union and the mayor. Allegedly the point of schools is to educate children. But which side in this dispute has sole interest in children and their parents?
The answer, of course, is neither side.
Unions are about the economic interests of the teachers. The mayor is about his budget and the economic interests of the city. No one solely represents the interests of the kids.
Star Parker
It’s not to say that the union or the mayor has no interest in the quality of education being delivered. But this is just part of their agenda. Do union members have to worry that their jobs will be gone if children don’t get the best possible education? No. Does the mayor have to worry that his job will be gone or his career over if children don’t get the best possible education? No.
In private sector labor disputes, sitting across from the union representative is the representative of a private company. The survival of that firm depends on its ability to serve its customers. Its labor cost is one line item in the cost structure of the products it sells. The firm negotiating with the union does have to be concerned that union demands will drive it out of business – that it won’t be able to deliver the best, most competitively priced products. This helps explains why private sector union membership has dropped dramatically. In the mid-1950’s, 36 percent of the private sector labor force belonged to unions. Today it is less than 7 percent.
Union demands that cause uncompetitive pricing or poorer quality products threaten the survival of the firm because it cannot serve its customers. The customer is king. If the customer doesn’t like what he’s getting, that customer will go somewhere else. But what about parents and kids? They have no where else to go. In Chicago, they are stuck with whatever outcome the confrontation between the mayor and the union produces because there is no competition.  Read full column here: News New Mexico