New Noise on Climate Change—a winning issue for Republicans

Commentary by Marita Noon - The Democrats think that climate change is going to be a winning issue for them in 2014—and, if they handle it correctly, this could be a winning issue for the Republicans. You know, nothing comes out of the Obama White House by mistake. Everything is planned, analyzed, and focus group-tested. Last June when President Obama presented his Climate Action Plan at Georgetown University, some environmentalists hailed it. In response, Frances Beinecke, the then-president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: “The president nailed it.” The Huffington post reported that some environmental groups were wary that “Obama would follow through on the ambitious goals he laid out. Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity described it as too little, too late.”
     But, environmentalists haven’t been “thrilled with the administration’s record.” In January, 18 groups sent Obama a strongly worded letter telling him that he “needs to address climate change more aggressively.”
     Obviously, Obama heard the complaints—making clear which group of constituents holds sway: billionaire environmentalist donors who believe Democrats have wavered on climate issues rather than the economically hard-hit middle class he claims to champion.
     Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced the creation of 7 “climate hubs”—which the New York Times called: “a limited step” but said it “is part of a broader campaign by the administration to advance climate policy wherever possible with executive authority.” It is unclear what these “hubs” are or will do, but the stated goal is “to help farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires and floods.”
W     ashington Examiner columnist Ron Arnold calls the new hubs “propaganda spigots” and cites Steven Wilmeth, a southern New Mexico rancher, who said: “It’s another one of those ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’ deals. All I can say is, ‘Don’t help me.’ We hear the talk, but they’re not telling us what regulatory burdens these climate hubs will add to the overwhelming load we already carry.”
     Then on February 14, President Obama announced a new $1 billion “climate resilience fund” that “would go to research on the projected impacts of climate change, help communities prepare for climate change’s effects and fund ‘breakthrough technologies and resilient infrastructure.’” read full column

Gov. survey shows more farms and ranches in NM

A new government survey shows New Mexico has more farms and ranches than it did five years ago. 
The survey also shows the state has seen significant increases in the number of young farmers and minority farmers in recent years. 
State Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte says he's glad to see a wider diversity of people getting into farming and ranching across the state. He says that diversity will help create more opportunity. Witte also says the younger farmers will help ensure agriculture remains a viable part of the economy for years to come. 
The 2012 agriculture census shows there are more than 24,700 farms and ranches in New Mexico, an 18 percent increase since 2007. That bucks a long-term national trend that has seen the number of U.S. farms drop.


Boy shot in Roswell school shooting returns home

Nathaniel Tavarez
A 12-year-old boy who was seriously injured in a shooting at a Roswell school last month has returned home. 
The Roswell Daily Record reports that hundreds of people lined the city's streets, cheered and held up signs Friday in support of Nathaniel Tavarez. The boy suffered wounds to his head and stomach in the Jan. 14 shooting at Berrendo Middle School
A seventh-grader is accused of taking a shotgun to school and opening fire on Tavarez and a 13-year-old girl. 
Tavarez's mother says doctors were unable to remove the shots in his brain and he still cannot see, but may regain some sight in his right eye. She says her son holds no grudges and just wants to go back to school because he loves his teachers and friends.


Amtrak still in question after legislative session

The New Mexico legislative session has failed to make any commitment to fund the state's share of costs to keep Amtrak's Southwest Chief on its current route.
 The session ended Thursday with none of the five bills seeking ways to maintain the passenger train line passing. 
Amtrak has proposed that New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas all chip in to improve and maintain more than 600 miles of track through their states. The company says the Southwest Chief's route might change otherwise, causing some communities to lose passenger service. The rail operator would need to reach a deal with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the track Amtrak uses. 
A legislative panel earlier this month agreed to commission a study on whether the state should pay.