Rita Daniels

Reporter

Rita Daniels is an award winning reporter and radio producer who was raised off the grid in the Wild West by a pack of hippies and Pueblo Indians. She's pretty sure these unique circumstances have something to do with her love of the oral tradition as well as her unyielding obsession when it comes to to capturing stories about the human experience. Upon graduating from Emerson College in the Media Arts, Rita began recording and producing radio stories while roaming the planet. In 2010 she was invited to join NPR's Snap Judgment Team as a founding producer. Building on her previous work with The National Radio Project, Rita is now reporting the news of New Mexico for KUNM.

Ways To Connect

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The Department of Energy has fined the contractors that manage Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories nearly $1 million for mishandling sensitive material.

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If you are out cruising the open roads of New Mexico, your ride might be a whole lot smoother and safer soon. Governor Susana Martinez is expected to sign off on a capital outlay bill next week that will throw $45 million to road projects.

One stretch that gets a lot of attention is US 82 near the oil fields in Lea County where narrow bumpy roads riddled with potholes are the norm. 

Rita Daniels

A federal judge approved the U.S. Department of Justice’s agreement with Albuquerque to reform the city’s police department this week, which has made some critics of APD hopeful. An investigation revealed that APD engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional policing and use of excessive force.

District Judge Robert C. Brack said the months of negotiations between the city and the Department of Justice were fair and honest.

Wikimedia

Underground rooms at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant where radiation leaked in 2014 have been sealed off, but nuclear watchdogs are not satisfied.

When the container of nuclear waste burst at WIPP last year, the state environment department ordered the plant to close off the area as quickly as possible.

Rita Daniels

This year’s spring rains and snow have eased New Mexico’s drought and made it less likely that we’ll see huge, damaging wildfires this season. But in the big picture, fire ecologists say it’s not a matter of if there will be fire, it’s when. They're trying to use flames now to protect watersheds for years to come.

jonathan mcintosh via Flickr (cropped)
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Border patrol agents are racially profiling and routinely harassing people in southern New Mexico according to an investigation by the ACLU.

The investigation revealed that border patrol agents detain people at checkpoints based on the color of their skin. It also detailed how roving agents pull over ambulances that are transporting patients.

Rita Daniels

People are going to have to wait to find out whether or not New Mexico’s largest utility will be allowed to continue investing heavily in coal power. Regulators decided to delay their decision on PNM’s power replacement plan Wednesday.

Brainwise via Flickr

UPDATE 12:00p: New Mexico Regulators Delay Decision On Power Plant - Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press

New Mexico regulators are giving Public Service Co. of New Mexico more time to ink agreements with a mining company, delaying a decision on whether to approve a plan to close part of the San Juan Generating Station.

The Public Regulation Commission voted 4-1 during its meeting Wednesday.

PNM Rate Hike Rejected

May 13, 2015
fallsroad via Flickr

The Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously to reject PNM’s application to raise rates by 16 percent for residential users.

Rita Daniels

Hundreds of clean energy advocates marched in front of PNM headquarters on Tuesday during the utility’s annual shareholders meeting. The crowd called for New Mexico’s largest electricity provider to rethink its energy portfolio and continued investment in fossil fuels.

Leszek Teterycz wants PNM to replace all of the power that will be lost when two coal units are shuttered at the San Juan Generating Station with energy harnessed from the sun.

Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Santolina developers and their opponents will appeal parts of the master plan for the 22-square-mile suburb at the Bernalillo County Commission meeting tonight.

Santolina was recommended for approval in December of 2014 by the planning commission.

Rita Daniels

Profits at New Mexico’s largest electric company have skyrocketed in the last few years, according to a new report, and demonstrators are planning to protest outside of PNM’s shareholder meeting Tuesday morning. 

Rita Daniels

There is a growing demand for locally grown food in New Mexico, but farmers here are getting older. The average age is 65. However, there are programs that aim to inspire and train up-and-coming young farmers.

Will Thomas

New Mexico’s largest utility company promised to have a completed coal-supply agreement for their power plant in place by last Friday but PNM missed its own deadline.

The coal-supply agreement for the San Juan Generating Station in northwestern New Mexico is one of the linchpins for the plant’s future energy production. The utility wants to shut down two units there and replace that power with nuclear, natural gas, some solar and more coal.

Killbox

The Albuquerque Board of Education signed off on hiring the district’s next superintendent. The local teachers union approves the board’s choice.

By mid-summer Luis Valentino will be at the helm of the Albuquerque Public School District. 

Moon Man Mike via Flickr

New Mexico’s craft beer and winemakers will be able to sell their products in more places come July 1st, 2015.

So this summer when you stop by a brewery you may be able to order a glass of local wine. And if you're visiting a tasting room at a winery, you might be able to order a pint produced at a local brewery.

That’s because New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed a few bills expanding markets for breweries and wineries around the state.

Nico Ortiz of Turtle Mountain Brewing Company is excited to sell his beer outside of his taproom.

fallsroad via Flickr

 

New Mexico’s largest electric utility plans to appeal a Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner’s decision to reject a rate hike proposal

Public Service Company of New Mexico has two weeks to file objections with the PRC after their request to increase rates by more than $ 100 million was dismissed on Friday.

Two coal-burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station will be shuttered in 2017. To replace that coal-generated power, Public Service Company of New Mexico has proposed investing mostly in other coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. The utility, which provides power to half a million customers in New Mexico, says it’s the most cost effective, reliable option. 

Courtesy San Juan's Citizen Alliance

On Wednesday, a Public Regulation Commission hearing examiner recommended against part of PNM’s energy replacement plan for 132 megawatts of coal-generated electricity.

PNM has been looking for a way to replace the energy that will be lost when two coal burning stacks at the San Juan Generating Station are shut down in 2017.

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For years, dairymen, the state and environmental watchdogs have been trying to reach an agreement about how to deal with the waste that comes from hundreds of thousands of cows in New Mexico. The Water Quality Control Commission held a hearing Monday afternoon to consider proposed amendments to the Dairy Rule. But that’s not what they ended up talking about.

Rita Daniels

People dropped off children’s books by the carload Thursday at a bus stop on Albuquerque’s west side.

The goal was to literally stuff a city bus with tens of thousands of kids’ books as part of the Discover a Book program. They will be used to resupply the cubby of free books found on all of Albuquerque’s buses.

Nick Manole works with ABQ Ride and says since they started putting kids’ books on the buses almost 10 years ago they realized that many adults were reading them, too.

Karen Roe via Compfight

Watering restrictions are officially in effect for many New Mexicans.

Starting Wednesday, Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority customers are prohibited from using sprinklers between 11a and 7p. 

Katherine Yuhas, Water Conservation Officer at the utility, said predictions for a moist spring and summer mean they could bank water in the aquifer by leaving it in the ground instead of pumping it.

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief passenger train route through northeastern New Mexico will not be altered. The train is the economic lifeline for many people in the affected service area.

Raton Mayor Sandy Mantz says Amtrak’s decision not to stop service is wonderful news, because every summer thousands of passengers arrive in town by train and are responsible for almost half the yearly sales at local shops.

Rita Daniels

The Bernalillo County Commission kicked off hearings Wednesday on a huge proposed development southwest of Albuquerque.

Tractors cruised through downtown Albuquerque on their way to city hall where the commission began hearing testimony on the Santolina plan to build 38,000 new homes over the next four or five decades.

Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The Bernalillo County Commission will hear testimony this week about a controversial proposal to build a huge planned community west of Albuquerque.

If approved, Santolina developers would turn about 14,000 acres of sprawling sand dunes into a mini-city complete with industrial parks and schools.

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T-Mobile’s corporate policies violated the rights of their employees, including those who work in New Mexico, according to a court ruling this week.

There are 550 people working at a T-Mobile call center in Albuquerque.

Several of them complained to the National Labor Relations Board saying they were prohibited from talking to each other about how much they get paid and other things.

Sierra Club

    

The Public Regulation Commission is continuing to seek input on PNM’s energy replacement plan. More than 200 people showed up to a meeting in Albuquerque Wednesday night.

Commissioner Valerie Espinoza took a moment during public testimony to say she had received almost 100 written comments opposing PNM’s plan from her constituents in Taos and Las Vegas.

Brian DePalo via flickr

New Mexico is on track for some much needed drought relief according to the National Weather Service spring forecast.

Andrew Church is an NWS meteorologist and said a combination of warm coastal waters and a shift in trade winds from last week’s tropical cyclones will deliver higher than average precipitation across the state.

“It’s a wet scenario for us, something we haven’t seen in at least four years so,” Church explained. “If you were thinking about investing in rain barrels, this would be a good year to do it!”

Wild Earth Guardians

The Public Regulation Commission held weeks of public hearings earlier this year on PNM’s plan to shut down two coal-fired units at the San Juan Generating Station. But this week people in Albuquerque will have one more chance to weigh in.

PRC Chair Karen Montoya said she received requests from her Albuquerque constituents who want their opinions taken into consideration.

“Things could possibly change a lot,” Montoya said. “Depending on what they [at PNM] bring on, it will effect a change in the mix.”

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