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Posts Tagged ‘New Mexico’

Water Wars

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/us/new-mexico-farmers-push-to-be-made-a-priority-in-drought.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

This outlines the local situation reasonably well. A few of the early settlers here (fin d’ siecle) were farseeing and nailed down senior water rights for Carlsbad, which continues to be pretty strong in this department. As the droughts continue and temperatures rise a bit, surface water storage is going to become even less effective and it’s going to become increasingly obvious that water is best stored underground.

The dissent is as always about the flow of the Pecos and how much it’s affected by pumping. But this dissent links directly into above-ground storage. Ultimately people in the region should recognize that they are fighting the wrong battle and should address pumping overall, not the flow of the Pecos specifically, but that would mean fighting water rights that are over 100 years old.

Meanwhile what will probably happen is the mining companies will buy up the land with water rights as the drought continues and farming will suffer a severe setback in the region, which is likely a good idea, except that at least with farming, the water is given back in some manner – mining tends to pollute and even sequester it. 

 

Good News On The Insect Front

We takes what we can get.

Cockerell’s bumblebee rediscovered in New Mexico

Christian Science Monitor
today

The last Cockerell’s bumblebee sample was collected in 1956. No other specimens had been recorded until Aug. 31, when a team of scientists from the University of California, Riverside, found three more samples of the bee species in weeds along a highway north of Cloudcroft.

We are happy to report that even though these little people have a range of only 300 square miles or so, that range is “largely composed of National Forest and Apache tribal land.” Go bees.

 

Plant A Tree, Go To Jail

The City Council of Carlsbad, New Mexico, on the advice of the city managerial staff; just passed an ordinance instituting stage I water restrictions automatically from April 1 through September 30 of each year. This involves limiting outdoor watering to three days a week, between six p.m. and ten a.m. It also allows bucket watering on the alternate days, but not sprinkler or hose or other water systems. You can be fined up to I think $500 or be jailed for 90 days if you are caught flouting these laws.

Unfortunately, stage I water restrictions also prohibit the planting of lawn, trees or shrubs, and April is when people plant around here. I could understand the City forbidding planting after April, because it starts getting hot fast, but April really is the month to do it, so they have to a great extent just outlawed landscaping. I’ve seen it get down to 15 degrees in March.

I can just imagine all those rich people at the north end of town being told they are forbidden to plant lawn, trees or shrubs in April or May. It will also be interesting to see how the distinction between “shrub” and, say, “herb” is determined.

Of course, if it never rains again, this will all be moot, but all we need is one good rainy year and there will be a revolt of gardeners. Meanwhile I guess people get to learn about container gardening now, which isn’t a bad idea anyway.

In the same measure, they also raised the cost of purchase of city water by industrial users (to use or resell outside city limits) to a little over $20 per 1000 gallons. Considering that municipal users are charged about 1/20th of that, one wonders just how much our water restrictions are due to selling municipal water to the oil and gas companies at municipal rates.

I would think it more sensible to tell everybody “You get x amount of water per household member, and x amount of water per 100 square feet of unimproved land, and you can use it however you want, but if you go over that your rates go up to industrial rates for the overage.” That would make them money; this will cost them a lot of trouble to enforce. How do you enforce it with fenced yards, or ones with obstructing landscaping?

Oh, and let’s not forget that our Mayor was going around earlier this year suggesting that what this town really needs is to double its population.

Strong rain predictions here from tonight through Thursday morning. (In honor of the water restrictions?) Not clear to me that they are going to start this until April, though. Unless the wells go down far enough, which could happen too. We could still get a monsoon, though probably not a strong one.

 

DOE Looking at Carlsbad WIPP for Plutonium Disposal

WIPP site being considered for DOE plutonium disposal

CARLSBAD — The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad is being eyed as a potential site for the disposal of surplus plutonium by the Department of Energy.

The material represents approximately 13 metric tons (MT) of surplus plutonium, including about 7 MT from retired nuclear weapons and 6 MT of non-pit plutonium. A “pit” is the plutonium core of a nuclear weapon, while “non-pit” plutonium comprises plutonium oxides or metals that existed when the Cold War ended.

The material under consideration for potential disposal at the WIPP facility is 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium to be moved from the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. It could be disposed of as transuranic (TRU) waste at WIPP in the same way other TRU waste is disposed of currently.

They’re talking 7-10 years from now. I suspected this kind of thing was likely to happen, and more would not surprise me.

 

We Goes To The Moon!

New Mexico Company Plans The First Private Spaceport

No stranger to offbeat space-related news, businesspeople in New Mexico have plans to make the country’s first “spaceport,” an airport for privately owned spacecraft, NPR reported.

Under the authority of the newly created New Mexico Spaceport Authority and Spaceport America, plans for the new space are set for a site outside Truth or Consequences, a tiny desert town.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/17/new-mexico-spaceport-in-the-works/#ixzz1STmlaAuD

The SoNM has put $200 mil into this so far. The article also notes that this isn’t just about Roswell.

 

Remember the Bad Cold?

Blame game continues in gas outage

KOB.com

At a Public Regulation Commission hearing Tuesday, KOB Eyewitness News 4 obtained a staff report from a PRC engineer that basically says the gas company followed policies, regulations and the law when it cut off gas to thousands of customers.

The report from PRC staff says New Mexico Gas tried to get large customers to voluntarily reduce their gas use before they were forced to take communities like Taos and Espanola offline in order to avoid a system wide crash. It also says the company tried to buy extra gas before the cold snap but the supply was interrupted by shortages.

One question still yet to be answered is who was responsible for not delivering gas to the company.

Gas company officials told regulators that at last count, they have paid out well over $600,000 in damage claims to more than 2,000 customers.

Well, who was responsible was the electric companies that shut down the compressors that were required to deliver the gas through the lines. Or whoever decided not to have backup systems for the compressors.

I wonder who the large customers were?

 

Oh, Susana

I’m glad you’ve got your priorities straight as to our problems here in New Mexico, with your stalwart adherence to assuring that people driving around here aren’t of some dreaded nationality such as that from which we bought much of this place (after winning a war against them) back in the 19th century. Cheap, too. Very cheap. You know; *those* people, Susana. The ones with surnames like Martinez. What a funny coincidence!

Gov: Loss in driver’s license fight only the first round

SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez says she has lost only the first round in her fight over illegal immigrants receiving New Mexico driver’s licenses.

A bill to repeal the law cleared the House of Representatives this session only to die in the Senate.

Martinez says she will continue trying to revoke the licensing law, which means she may have to reshape the Democrat-controlled Senate in the next election.

Oh, my. Reshape? Is that some kind of grizzly mama thing? Like reverse werewolvism?

Article goes on to run around with hair on fire about how people down south will use the opportunity to become licensed to drive, sans being citizens, to “gain access to secure buildings, such as federal courthouses and power plants.” Damn. If I knew a driver’s license would get you that, I would have taken up the practice long ago.

Marcela Diaz, executive director of the immigrant organization Somos Un Pueblo Unido, is also quoted, in a refreshingly sane and reasonable manner.

There will be those who say “But these people are (breaking some kind of law and/or are dangerous.)” To these people, I respond; do you *really* not have anything better to worry about than people who are not legally living in this country, driving to their horrible jobs where they do not have the sorts of legal protections that citizens of the USA still have? I mean, seriously. These folks are working shit jobs for a few bucks an hour, and basically living in fear. If one was to argue that they should not be allowed driver’s licenses, and even attempt to appear ethical, one would also have to argue that USA industry should stop going out of its way to stop taking advantage of these people, many of whom are trying to get away from oppressive regimes and terrible employment situations south of the border. And gosh, if that happened, then honest-to-Dog Merkins would maybe get those jobs for crappy minimum wage, as opposed to $2 an hour.

Instead, what kind of framing do we get? “They might be terrorists and might get access to secure buildings,” and then I guess use their $2 an hour wages to blow them all up in their spare time that doesn’t exist.

Yep, this is definitely now on the very top of my list of things to worry about, you lying Palin-promoted teabagger Martinez. It was a bad year when you won the governorship, and now we get to look forward to darlings like Steve Pearce or Heather Wilson fighting over Bingaman’s seat in the Senate. Wilson is spoken of around here as being not sufficiently conservative. I think my head has an appointment with a nearby wall.

 

Candidates Vying for Jeff Bingaman’s Seat

Wilson reportedly vying for Bingaman seat

SANTA FE – Former congresswoman Heather Wilson is expected to announce Monday that she’ll seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat long held by Democrat Jeff Bingaman, who plans to retire in two years.

Wilson, 50, represented the 1st Congressional District, consisting mainly of metropolitan Albuquerque, from 1998 to the end of 2008. She gave up her U.S. House seat to run for the U.S. Senate seat held for decades by Republican Pete Domenici. However, she lost in the Republican primary to U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Southern New Mexico conservative who attacked Wilson as too moderate. Pearce went on to lose the general election to Democrat Tom Udall, who vacated his U.S. House seat representing Northern New Mexico to run for Senate.

Pearce, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate, said in a recent news release that GOP leaders need to “take steps to avoid a repeat of the 2008 Senate race where both the candidates and the party were bruised and out of money at the end of the primary and we had no national Republican representatives. … we do not need to be hasty in this decision.”

I say let ’em both duke it out.

 

New Mexico Driver’s Licenses Debate Not Over Yet

NM House to vote on driver’s licenses today

3/4

SANTA FE – The House of Representatives today will vote on a bill that would prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining New Mexico driver’s licenses.

(Rep. Andy Nuñez, sponsor of the bill) said a sizable majority of House members support his bill (that) overturn(s) the 2003 law that allows applicants to obtain driver’s licenses without proof of immigration status. But, Nuñez said, a number of them were reluctant to vote for the extraordinary process that “blasted” his bill out of legislative committees and straight to the House floor.

Democrats complained that they had never seen anything like the tactic that Nuñez used, and said it dishonored the longstanding process in which bills are heard in committees.

Republicans have previously argued that allowing illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses constituted a security list, in that terrorists could get them and then drive around and do bad things, what with terrorists being so generally law-abiding other than with regards to all things terror. I don’t know about you, but I just cannot imagine a terrorist doing something as despicable as ginning up a fake I.D. Not in America, I can’t.

My observation down here in Carlsbad is that even citizens are not all that concerned about pesky details such as being licensed, in order to drive around like maniacs, so I might argue that there are bigger driving-related fish to fry in New Mexico than worrying about the citizenship status of said drivers. But then, I’m not a Republican.

 

New Mexico Power & Fuel Failures

I’ve been on the New Mexico Topix forum a lot about this. It’s a pretty interesting story.

Basically, the Texas power plants couldn’t keep up with the demand for electric, and they tried to bring some of their backup plants on line but they failed because of the cold. They were geared for extreme heat demand, not this. Pipes froze. Stuff like that. Out of commission.

So they started running rolling blackouts, and the West Texas gas compressors that run gas from Texas to New Mexico started going down.

Then New Mexico Gas started having to take down parts of their grid because of the gas pressure being too low. Once they do that, they can’t turn it back on again until they go around and turn off everybody’s gas meters, repressurize the system, and then go around and turn everybody’s gas meters back on again, and then of course all the pilots must be relit by somebody.

New Mexico Gas said they had enough gas, it was the West Texas compressors (that did NOT have backup non-electric generators) that were the problem.

Meanwhile, there were various sorts of problems with electricity, depending on where on the grid you were. Most of New Mexico is on a different grid than Carlsbad, though we had lows here down around zero, too.

When a system does not have redundant backup systems, extreme conditions will reveal all of its faults. Transmission lines went down. People got shut off from electricity and gas both.

I’ve been fighting a meme that this was a fuel shortage problem. It was not. It was an infrastructure fail.

The faux fuel shortage meme is geared to deregulate energy companies (oh yay). And/or give them excuses to charge us more. It’s anti-environmentalist in tone.

But really this is about deregulation. This is about letting corporations run our energy / fuel systems for us, and assuming they give a flying fuck about keeping us safe.

I just commented with one woman whose sister was north of Alamagordo, on natural gas. NM Gas shut that down, and then the electric was shut down too. She had no other fuel source, a four month old baby, and a husband in Afghanistan.

Fortunately, she had a cell phone. By the time help arrived, a glass of water had frozen on her kitchen table.

Alamagordo had gas and electric both shut off yesterday. It was below zero down here in Carlsbad last night. 15 predicted tonight. Warming tomorrow.

 
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