Monday Morning Roundup

Jul 1, 2013

Silver Fire Sees Sizeable Growth Over Last 2 Days - Associated Press

A wildfire in southern New Mexico has grown by nearly 40 square miles over the last two days.

Crews fighting the Silver fire in the Gila National Forest hope that thunderstorms forecast for Sunday will bring relief.

The blaze had reached 196 square miles by Sunday morning. It was 45 percent contained.

Crews were focusing Sunday on protecting seven Cooney Canyon homes on the fire's western flank.

The fire was more than two miles from the homes.

The homes have been vacated by their owners, though no official evacuation order has been given.

The lightning-sparked blaze also was burning northward into wilderness.

News Laws Take Effect In New Mexico - Associated Press

Two pension measures are among the new laws taking effect Monday in New Mexico.

The laws change separate retirement programs for state and local government workers and public school employees and college faculty. Most workers will have to pay more into their retirement plan and yearly cost-of-living adjustments for pension benefits will be trimmed. There will be new retirement eligibility standards and benefits for public employees and educators hired starting in July.

Another new law taking effect Monday strengthens sex-offender registration requirements for those with out-of-state convictions who move to New Mexico.

NM Farmers Selling Water To Oil And Gas Developers - Associated Press

In the face of crippling drought, some Eddy County farmers are selling their supplemental well water to companies drilling for oil and gas using hydraulic fracturing, a technique that requires huge volumes of water.

New Mexico Interstate Stream Commissioner Jim Wilcox tells the Carlsbad Current-Argus he understands why farmers are selling the water, since there's not enough for what they need and they "have to have some income coming in."

But he says he worries that the region could be "losing water that can't be recovered."

He says farmers have to go through the State Engineers Office to sell the water.

Jim Davis, who has been selling his water commercially for years, told the newspaper some well owners are skirting public notification laws and over-pumping. Davis says he works hard to follow the state's water laws.

Western Governors Unveil 10-Year Energy 'Vision' - Associated Press

Western governors have unveiled a regional 10-year energy "vision" that stresses cooperation among states in interstate projects such as transmission lines, increased oil production and modernization of pipeline infrastructure.

At the same time, the document released by the Western Governors Association calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting wildlife and supporting technologies that reduce water demand.

The Deseret News reports governors also discussed education and health care reform efforts during their three-day meeting, which ended Sunday in Park City.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, chairman of the association, says the energy plan stems from bipartisan cooperation and represents a first step toward a blueprint for the entire country that promotes economic growth while protecting the environment.

Immigration Bill Faces Uncertain Future In House - Associated Press

The immigration debate is shifting to the Republican-led House, where lawmakers have shown little appetite for the comprehensive approach their Senate colleagues embraced last week.

The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Sunday that any attempt at comprehensive immigration legislation cannot offer a, quote, "special pathway to citizenship" for those in the United States illegally.

Democrats have called that component a deal-breaker.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who leads the House Judiciary Committee, is suggesting a pathway to legal standing, similar to immigrants who have green cards.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York calls that proposal unacceptable and says, quote, "no Democrat will vote for any bill without a path to citizenship."

Goodlatte spoke to CNN and Schumer was interviewed on Fox News.

Health Officials Report Increase In Tularemia Case - Associated Press

Health officials are warning that tularemia cases are on the rise in New Mexico.

Since the middle of April, the Department of Health reports four cases of the plague-like illness in four people and six pets. They include a 45-year-old man from Santa Fe County, an 88-year-old woman from McKinley County, a 62-year-old woman from Santa Fe County and a 75-year-old woman from San Juan County. The pet cases include two cats and one dog from Santa Fe County, a dog from Sandoval County, a dog from Los Alamos County, and a cat from Torrance County.

All have recovered.

Tularemia is a potentially serious illness caused by a bacteria found in animals, especially rodents, rabbits and hares. Dogs and cats can also spread the disease to humans. Symptoms include sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscles aches and joint pain.