Headlines: DOE Goes To WIPP, Future Of The Gila River And More...

Aug 11, 2014

A cropped image of the landscape around the Gila River.
Credit Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Energy Secretary To Visit Troubled Nuke Dump  - The Associated Press

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is traveling to southeastern New Mexico to visit the government's troubled nuclear waste dump.

Moniz is scheduled to arrive in Carlsbad this evening, where he will participate in a town hall meeting to talk with residents about the radiation leak and a truck fire that have shuttered the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant since February.

A group of residents is planning a rally outside the Carlsbad airport to welcome Moniz and show their continued support for the plant, which is the federal government's only permanent repository for waste from decades of nuclear bomb building and employs about 650 people.

During a meeting on renewable energy in Santa Fe earlier Monday, Moniz says the department is committed to getting the half-mile deep mine re-opened as soon as possible.

Commission To Mull Whether To Dam Gila River – The Associated Press

New Mexico's Interstate Stream Commission is meeting later this month to kick off its decision-making process over whether to partially dam the Gila River.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that federal authorities say the costs of a dam will far outweigh the benefits.

The commission has fewer than five months before it must tell the Interior Department about whether to divert up to 14,000 acre-feet of water from the Gila River under the 2004 Arizona Water Settlement Act.

Opponents worry about the financial and environmental costs of diverting water from a river often considered New Mexico's last "wild" river.

Others, meanwhile, believe that a drought-prone state cannot miss a chance to take water when it's offered.

The commission is meeting Aug. 26 to begin its decision-making process.  

Concealed Carry Permits On Rise In New Mexico The Associated Press

The state of New Mexico is seeing a rise in concealed carry permits that let people carry a concealed handgun into most public and private places.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports there were 31,800 concealed carry permits in New Mexico at the end of last year, an increase of nearly 7,000 since the end of 2012.  

The newspaper obtained the figures through a public records request.

A concealed carry permit lets a person carry a concealed, loaded handgun into most public and private places unless notices are posted.

Permit holders must complete a 15-hour firearms safety course.

Gun safety instructors attribute the rise partly to a resurgence in America's gun debate after 20 elementary students and six teachers were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut during December 2012.

CORRECTION: The Las Cruces Sun-News has corrected this report, and we have on air. There were 31,800 concealed carry permits in New Mexico at the end of last year, not the 343,000 originally reported. The increase since 2012 was nearly 7,000, not 60,000 as was originally reported. 

Claim Filed By Man In San Juan County Jail Beating The Associated Press

A man who alleges he was beaten by a corrections officer while at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center has filed a legal claim.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that surveillance video taken shows then-Officer John Robins slamming Crandell Martin's head into a brick wall while Martin was being booked on July 2 for a probation violation.

Robins was charged July 21 in Aztec Magistrate Court with aggravated battery. He resigned after the incident.

A police report says Martin appeared intoxicated in the video and that he acknowledged "mouthing off" to Robins.

Robins later told an investigator that he was going through a tough time and had lost control during the incident.

Martin filed a notice of tort claim that's regarded as a precursor to a lawsuit.

Jewell, Moniz To Address National Energy IssuesThe Associated Press

Two top officials in President Barack Obama's administration are in New Mexico to discuss the potential for renewable energy development in the Southwest and the challenges of exporting that power to market.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will be among those at Monday's meeting in Santa Fe.

The gathering of federal, state and tribal officials is part of the administration's effort to develop recommendations regarding the transmission, storage and distribution of energy.

Previous meetings in other states have covered rail and barge transportation issues, the growing connections between natural gas and electricity production and infrastructure limitations in developing shale resources.

One of the focuses during the New Mexico meeting will be how the federal government works with tribes when it comes to energy development and transmission.

Senators Concerned About Post Offices' Hours The Associated Press 

Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall are expressing concern about the Postal Service's plans to reduce hours at thousands of postal facilities across the United States, including nearly 150 in New Mexico.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that hours are already being reduced at some post offices — some to only two hours a day.

Heinrich and Udall say in a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe that they're pleased that the Postal Service reconsidered its original plan to close 3,700 post offices nationwide, including over 50 in New Mexico.

But the senators say reduced service hours are troubling to many constituents, especially in rural areas where post offices are far apart.

Rio Arriba County in northern New Mexico would have the most affected locations at 15.