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what big wind doesn’t want new mexico to know

commentary: earlier this month, the washington, d.c.-based american wind energy association (awea) came to santa fe to release its national “market” report for 2017.the slick marketing materials the lobbying organization dispensed at the roundhouse claimed that wind in the u.s. is “bringing more affordable, clean, and reliable energy while growing the economy.” new mexico was cited as a “rising star” that “added wind power capacity at a faster rate than any other state last year.”courtesy photod. dowd muskabut awea left out more than a few facts that policymakers need to know in order to make sound decisions about energy policy in the land of enchantment and throughout the nation.first, wind-generated electricity is almost entirely the product of government mandates, grants and tax credits. the federal production tax credit (ptc) is now more than a quarter-century old. it was crafted to help the industry attain “maturity,” but the sun has yet to set for the taxpayer-provided perk.the tax credit has been renewed multiple times, and its cost is considerable.for wind farms that were built in 2016 and went online in 2017, its value was $24 per megawatt hour — an enormous sum, given that the price of a megawatt hour on the wholesale market hovered between $20 and $50 last year. (as the institute for energy research noted, the ptc “is so large relative to the economics of the industry” that “many wind operations cannot take full advantage of it — their...





that nod of honor | nmpolitics.net

commentary: every summer is fire season in the new mexico mountains. while some fire seasons are worse than others, they are all bad. this year many wild fires have already started. hundreds of firefighters, both professional and volunteer, have been battling these wild fires.courtesy photomichael swickardalso, in rural new mexico people get injured or ill. emergency medical people come long distances to help. we drive by those ambulances without thinking about the drama that plays out inside them every week, or the emergency workers who are there to help us.last week young people saw the smoke and the coverage of the fires on media. these young people could say, “last week we didn’t do anything special.” or they could say something different if they had been trained as a firefighter or emergency medical technician.then they could say, “last week i and hundreds of fellow firefighters fought the fires around capitan or tatum or grants, new mexico. we were all that was between them and the forests and towns.”also, there were emergency medical personnel who responded to accidents and medical events. they could say, “it was touch and go when we arrived but we got the patient stabilized and to the hospital in time. that person will recover and be home soon.”when these firefighters and emts walk into their town cafe or store an interesting thing happens. community members will nod to them. it is a nod of honor. there is no higher honor than their fellow citizens showi...





that nod of honor | nmpolitics.net

commentary: every summer is fire season in the new mexico mountains. while some fire seasons are worse than others, they are all bad. this year many wild fires have already started. hundreds of firefighters, both professional and volunteer, have been battling these wild fires.courtesy photomichael swickardalso, in rural new mexico people get injured or ill. emergency medical people come long distances to help. we drive by those ambulances without thinking about the drama that plays out inside them every week, or the emergency workers who are there to help us.last week young people saw the smoke and the coverage of the fires on media. these young people could say, “last week we didn’t do anything special.” or they could say something different if they had been trained as a firefighter or emergency medical technician.then they could say, “last week i and hundreds of fellow firefighters fought the fires around capitan or tatum or grants, new mexico. we were all that was between them and the forests and towns.”also, there were emergency medical personnel who responded to accidents and medical events. they could say, “it was touch and go when we arrived but we got the patient stabilized and to the hospital in time. that person will recover and be home soon.”when these firefighters and emts walk into their town cafe or store an interesting thing happens. community members will nod to them. it is a nod of honor. there is no higher honor than their fellow citizens showi...





reporting series on rural resilience wins journalism awards

heath haussamen / nmpolitics.neta scene from downtown truth or consequences. nmpolitics.net editor and publisher heath haussamen wrote an article for the state of change project on how a new brewery was helping breathe life into downtown t or c.an article by nmpolitics.net editor and publisher heath haussamen is part of a series that has won two first-place awards in a multi-state journalism competition.the state of change series, which examined the challenge of building resilient rural communities in new mexico, won first place in the public service journalism and business enterprise journalism categories for mid-sized news organizations. the awards were given in the society of professional journalists’ top of the rockies competition for work published in 2017 by journalists in new mexico, colorado, utah and wyoming.the awards were announced in denver on friday.several new mexico news organizations, with support from high country news and the solutions journalism network, collaborated for months on the project. haussamen’s article focused on how a new brewery was helping breathe life into downtown truth or consequences and how the offbeat, impoverished town might attract more entrepreneurs.“each piece in this series could have won a first-place designation on its own,” a judge in the top of the rockies competition wrote. “each was told so beautifully, weaving interesting and important data throughout, showing the human side to issues many small towns across the ...





gubernatorial candidate steve pearce on the environment

courtesy photosteve pearcenmpolitics.net is publishing a series of interviews with new mexico’s four gubernatorial candidates that were conducted by new mexico political report. the candidates answered questions about issues related to water, energy and climate change. steve pearce currently serves as new mexico’s second district congressman and is the lone republican running for new mexico governor. pearce is also a veteran of the vietnam war and owned and operated an oilfield services company.nmpr: coming off a bad winter and with drought returning to the state, what critical water issues are you keeping an eye on right now in new mexico?steve pearce: water is maybe the most important issue that new mexico faces. first of all, the supply [and] cleanliness [of water] and then fighting off external threats. those are three major issues.on supply, it’s one reason we insist we clean up our national forests. the typical tree load in any acre of national forest a hundred years ago was 50 trees per acre. it’s somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 trees per acre [now]. what they do is suck up the water and starve our aquifers and streams for water. so those two issues just connect very tightly.we’ve got environmental groups now who are saying we should be restoring our watersheds, and [are] actively working with businesses in albuquerque, and we’re trying to get more funding for them nationally, too, to help that restoration project.second, we’ve got to start cleaning ...





gubernatorial candidate steve pearce on the environment

courtesy photosteve pearcenmpolitics.net is publishing a series of interviews with new mexico’s four gubernatorial candidates that were conducted by new mexico political report. the candidates answered questions about issues related to water, energy and climate change. steve pearce currently serves as new mexico’s second district congressman and is the lone republican running for new mexico governor. pearce is also a veteran of the vietnam war and owned and operated an oilfield services company.nmpr: coming off a bad winter and with drought returning to the state, what critical water issues are you keeping an eye on right now in new mexico?steve pearce: water is maybe the most important issue that new mexico faces. first of all, the supply [and] cleanliness [of water] and then fighting off external threats. those are three major issues.on supply, it’s one reason we insist we clean up our national forests. the typical tree load in any acre of national forest a hundred years ago was 50 trees per acre. it’s somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 trees per acre [now]. what they do is suck up the water and starve our aquifers and streams for water. so those two issues just connect very tightly.we’ve got environmental groups now who are saying we should be restoring our watersheds, and [are] actively working with businesses in albuquerque, and we’re trying to get more funding for them nationally, too, to help that restoration project.second, we’ve got to start cleaning ...





gubernatorial candidate michelle lujan grisham on the environment

courtesy photomichelle lujan grishamnmpolitics.net is publishing a series of interviews with new mexico’s four gubernatorial candidates that were conducted by new mexico political report. the candidates answered questions about issues related to water, energy and climate change. democrat michelle lujan grisham currently serves as new mexico’s congresswoman for the first congressional district. before that, she worked in new mexico state government as secretary of the department of aging and long term services and the department of health.nmpr: we’re coming off a bad winter and drought has returned to the state, what critical water issues are you keeping an eye on right now?michelle lujan grisham: i would actually disagree with your question.it’s not that drought has returned, it’s that it’s becoming even more prevalent in the context of climate change, and this is a harsh new reality for many states in the southwest and in the u.s.drought is a serious and significant concern, and our water resources have to be addressed so that they’re protected in the short-term and the long-term. so, you bet, i’m keeping an eye on it.let’s talk about some of the current challenges. one, the rio grande is already dry well before we’re typically having to deal with that, and you’ve got folks who are already rescuing silvery minnows right out of the bosque del apache. because if we lose one part of the ecosystem, we lose the ecosystem for all other species, as well.ne...





preserving conservation fund will keep public spaces safe, available for kids

commentary: our children need nature. to grow up healthy, kids need a clean, beautiful and accessible outdoors where they can play and discover the amazing world around them. spending time with family while connecting with nature brings tremendous health and educational benefits to children.fortunately, new mexico has numerous spectacular and historically and socially significant outdoor areas, and we must do all that we can to protect them.courtesy photojames jimenezmuch of new mexico’s array of scenic beauty has been enhanced and protected by a relatively little-known federal program called the land and water conservation fund (lwcf). created with bipartisan support 50 years ago, the lwcf has been the principal source of federal dollars for everything from america’s national parks and wildlife refuges to community parks, trails and ball fields in almost every state and county in the nation.the lwcf has done more to protect iconic landscapes, wildlife habitat, open space, and healthy waters, and develop recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts than any federal program in american history.unfortunately, at the end of the federal fiscal year, the sun will set on one of our country’s greatest conservation programs if congress fails to reauthorize it.the loss of the lwcf would not bode well for america. in new mexico, the lwcf has funded numerous outdoor venues around the state, most recently expanding public access into the rugged interior of the rio grande del n...





gubernatorial candidate michelle lujan grisham on the environment

courtesy photomichelle lujan grishamnmpolitics.net is publishing a series of interviews with new mexico’s four gubernatorial candidates that were conducted by new mexico political report. the candidates answered questions about issues related to water, energy and climate change. democrat michelle lujan grisham currently serves as new mexico’s congresswoman for the first congressional district. before that, she worked in new mexico state government as secretary of the department of aging and long term services and the department of health.nmpr: we’re coming off a bad winter and drought has returned to the state, what critical water issues are you keeping an eye on right now?michelle lujan grisham: i would actually disagree with your question.it’s not that drought has returned, it’s that it’s becoming even more prevalent in the context of climate change, and this is a harsh new reality for many states in the southwest and in the u.s.drought is a serious and significant concern, and our water resources have to be addressed so that they’re protected in the short-term and the long-term. so, you bet, i’m keeping an eye on it.let’s talk about some of the current challenges. one, the rio grande is already dry well before we’re typically having to deal with that, and you’ve got folks who are already rescuing silvery minnows right out of the bosque del apache. because if we lose one part of the ecosystem, we lose the ecosystem for all other species, as well.ne...





preserving conservation fund will keep public spaces safe, available for kids

commentary: our children need nature. to grow up healthy, kids need a clean, beautiful and accessible outdoors where they can play and discover the amazing world around them. spending time with family while connecting with nature brings tremendous health and educational benefits to children.fortunately, new mexico has numerous spectacular and historically and socially significant outdoor areas, and we must do all that we can to protect them.courtesy photojames jimenezmuch of new mexico’s array of scenic beauty has been enhanced and protected by a relatively little-known federal program called the land and water conservation fund (lwcf). created with bipartisan support 50 years ago, the lwcf has been the principal source of federal dollars for everything from america’s national parks and wildlife refuges to community parks, trails and ball fields in almost every state and county in the nation.the lwcf has done more to protect iconic landscapes, wildlife habitat, open space, and healthy waters, and develop recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts than any federal program in american history.unfortunately, at the end of the federal fiscal year, the sun will set on one of our country’s greatest conservation programs if congress fails to reauthorize it.the loss of the lwcf would not bode well for america. in new mexico, the lwcf has funded numerous outdoor venues around the state, most recently expanding public access into the rugged interior of the rio grande del n...





walking in two worlds: 11-year-old, family keep navajo language alive

don usner / searchlight new mexicofrom left, conner, tyler, amanda, emily and evans bennallie in their living room. tyler is showing off one of his lego creations.tyler bennallie, 11, sprawls on the floor of his family’s mobile home on the navajo nation in fort defiance, arizona, while his baby sister bounces on his back. he doesn’t mind when 1-year-old emily plays horsey on him, or when she babbles loudly in his ear, or when she interrupts his efforts to talk about his favorite things, like iron man legos.a tall, kind-faced boy with dark-framed glasses and a buzz cut, tyler doesn’t even object when emily grabs his prized “diary of a wimpy kid” books. his brothers, conner, 4, and bryson, 6, meanwhile play with his lego super heroes — his most treasured possessions — which could be headless, legless or mia by the time the two get done. “they usually destroy all my stuff,” tyler says.he lives with his family on the navajo nation, a 27,000-square-mile expanse of high plains and desert in new mexico, utah and arizona, a region the size of west virginia. many of the diné (“the people,” in navajo) live in remote communities separated by miles of desolate country. families grow up in hogans and homes without running water, electricity or plumbing. the closest grocery store might be 40 miles away.john r. roby / searchlight new mexicothe navajo nationthe bennallie home is urban by comparison. the family resides a few miles north of window rock, the capital of th...





border residents see little impact from trump’s national guard deployment so far

douglas young / for the texas tribuneron and janella frankl reicks in their home in hidalgo texas, discuss the newest national guard deployment to the rio grande.hidalgo, texas – ron and janella frankl reicks had just finished an early steak dinner when they stepped outside of their home here and chuckled about snow falling back in their native iowa while they enjoyed 80-degree weather in texas’ rio grande valley.hours earlier in nearby abram, elia villarreal was dispensing advice outside her shuttered convenience store on military highway on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a practice she credits with letting her reach the age of 80 despite having only one kidney.and around the same time, max muñoz was sorting through papers and attending to his duties at mission’s renowned national butterfly center as he answered the same questions about border security he’s heard for the past four years.it was, in other words, an ordinary weekday for these hidalgo county residents who have grown accustomed to periodic bursts in law enforcement presence and haven’t noticed president donald trump’s latest deployment interrupting their day-to-day lives.at least not yet.“we have never seen them, other than the helicopter,” ron frankl reicks said. “that’s the only thing we’ve seen in terms of presence.” the frankl reicks have lived in the rio grande valley for more than two decades and have called the lake texano rv and mh resort, which sits just b...





walking in two worlds: 11-year-old, family keep navajo language alive

don usner / searchlight new mexicofrom left, conner, tyler, amanda, emily and evans bennallie in their living room. tyler is showing off one of his lego creations.tyler bennallie, 11, sprawls on the floor of his family’s mobile home on the navajo nation in fort defiance, arizona, while his baby sister bounces on his back. he doesn’t mind when 1-year-old emily plays horsey on him, or when she babbles loudly in his ear, or when she interrupts his efforts to talk about his favorite things, like iron man legos.a tall, kind-faced boy with dark-framed glasses and a buzz cut, tyler doesn’t even object when emily grabs his prized “diary of a wimpy kid” books. his brothers, conner, 4, and bryson, 6, meanwhile play with his lego super heroes — his most treasured possessions — which could be headless, legless or mia by the time the two get done. “they usually destroy all my stuff,” tyler says.he lives with his family on the navajo nation, a 27,000-square-mile expanse of high plains and desert in new mexico, utah and arizona, a region the size of west virginia. many of the diné (“the people,” in navajo) live in remote communities separated by miles of desolate country. families grow up in hogans and homes without running water, electricity or plumbing. the closest grocery store might be 40 miles away.john r. roby / searchlight new mexicothe navajo nationthe bennallie home is urban by comparison. the family resides a few miles north of window rock, the capital of th...





border residents see little impact from trump’s national guard deployment so far

douglas young / for the texas tribuneron and janella frankl reicks in their home in hidalgo texas, discuss the newest national guard deployment to the rio grande.hidalgo, texas – ron and janella frankl reicks had just finished an early steak dinner when they stepped outside of their home here and chuckled about snow falling back in their native iowa while they enjoyed 80-degree weather in texas’ rio grande valley.hours earlier in nearby abram, elia villarreal was dispensing advice outside her shuttered convenience store on military highway on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a practice she credits with letting her reach the age of 80 despite having only one kidney.and around the same time, max muñoz was sorting through papers and attending to his duties at mission’s renowned national butterfly center as he answered the same questions about border security he’s heard for the past four years.it was, in other words, an ordinary weekday for these hidalgo county residents who have grown accustomed to periodic bursts in law enforcement presence and haven’t noticed president donald trump’s latest deployment interrupting their day-to-day lives.at least not yet.“we have never seen them, other than the helicopter,” ron frankl reicks said. “that’s the only thing we’ve seen in terms of presence.” the frankl reicks have lived in the rio grande valley for more than two decades and have called the lake texano rv and mh resort, which sits just b...





gubernatorial candidate joseph cervantes on the environment

courtesy photojoseph cervantesnmpolitics.net is publishing a series of interviews over the next few days with new mexico’s four gubernatorial candidates that were conducted by new mexico political report. the candidates answered questions about issues related to water, energy and climate change. today, we feature state sen. joseph cervantes, a democrat, who has served as a legislator for doña ana county since 2001.nmpr: we’re coming off a bad winter and we’ve got drought returning to the state. what critical water issues are you keeping an eye on right now?joseph cervantes: clearly, the resolution of the aamodt settlement and the texas v. new mexico litigation are critical to the state. the state is spending millions of dollars in what are endless lawsuits to resolve issues that need to be resolved by leadership, rather than decades of litigation.note from nmpr: last year, a federal judge finalized the aamodt settlement, a 51-year old water dispute among local, tribal, state and federal entities in the pojoaque basin.nmpr: presuming that texas v. new mexico & colorado is still ongoing next year, what steps will your administration take on that lawsuit?joseph cervantes: the first thing i’m going to do is appoint a state engineer who’s committed to making meaningful progress on our water needs in the state, and to assure those water needs are met for centuries to come.right now, water issues in the state are managed, not solved. and the problems just get pass...





rebuilding america’s rural infrastructure | nmpolitics.net

commentary: some people remember when many rural households didn’t have electricity or running water. although those days are long gone for most, there’s still lots of room for improvement. in fact, our american infrastructure used to be the envy of the world, but now it’s in disrepair.this is why president trump has made it a priority to rebuild america’s infrastructure. he proposes to devote $50 billion, which is 25 percent of new federal money, to improving infrastructure in rural america.preston keresarthur a. garciathis is an unprecedented commitment. his proposal will stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments over the next decade.as congress takes up the president’s infrastructure proposal, i am delighted to share with you some great news right now. included in the fy 2018 budget bill that congress just passed and president trump signed in march is a robust investment of $600 million in rural broadband. these funds will serve as a “down payment” on the president’s full, comprehensive infrastructure funding proposal that will be further deliberated over the coming months.usda will use these new rural broadband funds to administer a new program that will begin to meet the administration’s goals of bringing reliable and affordable broadband e-connectivity to america’s rural towns, cities and tribal areas.today, 80 percent of the 24 million american households that do not have 21st century high-speed internet are in rural areas, acc...





rebuilding america’s rural infrastructure | nmpolitics.net

commentary: some people remember when many rural households didn’t have electricity or running water. although those days are long gone for most, there’s still lots of room for improvement. in fact, our american infrastructure used to be the envy of the world, but now it’s in disrepair.this is why president trump has made it a priority to rebuild america’s infrastructure. he proposes to devote $50 billion, which is 25 percent of new federal money, to improving infrastructure in rural america.preston keresarthur a. garciathis is an unprecedented commitment. his proposal will stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments over the next decade.as congress takes up the president’s infrastructure proposal, i am delighted to share with you some great news right now. included in the fy 2018 budget bill that congress just passed and president trump signed in march is a robust investment of $600 million in rural broadband. these funds will serve as a “down payment” on the president’s full, comprehensive infrastructure funding proposal that will be further deliberated over the coming months.usda will use these new rural broadband funds to administer a new program that will begin to meet the administration’s goals of bringing reliable and affordable broadband e-connectivity to america’s rural towns, cities and tribal areas.today, 80 percent of the 24 million american households that do not have 21st century high-speed internet are in rural areas, acc...





gubernatorial candidate joseph cervantes on the environment

courtesy photojoseph cervantesnmpolitics.net is publishing a series of interviews over the next few days with new mexico’s four gubernatorial candidates that were conducted by new mexico political report. the candidates answered questions about issues related to water, energy and climate change. today, we feature state sen. joseph cervantes, a democrat, who has served as a legislator for doña ana county since 2001.nmpr: we’re coming off a bad winter and we’ve got drought returning to the state. what critical water issues are you keeping an eye on right now?joseph cervantes: clearly, the resolution of the aamodt settlement and the texas v. new mexico litigation are critical to the state. the state is spending millions of dollars in what are endless lawsuits to resolve issues that need to be resolved by leadership, rather than decades of litigation.note from nmpr: last year, a federal judge finalized the aamodt settlement, a 51-year old water dispute among local, tribal, state and federal entities in the pojoaque basin.nmpr: presuming that texas v. new mexico & colorado is still ongoing next year, what steps will your administration take on that lawsuit?joseph cervantes: the first thing i’m going to do is appoint a state engineer who’s committed to making meaningful progress on our water needs in the state, and to assure those water needs are met for centuries to come.right now, water issues in the state are managed, not solved. and the problems just get pass...





competition fosters computer skills in rural nm school district

in new mexico, computer science courses are not mandated by the state. many schools in metropolitan areas offer these courses, but few rural school districts do. however, one rural school district has turned to new mexico’s supercomputing challenge to offer computer science education.the village of melrose may be small, but that hasn’t stopped the school district from competing in new mexico’s supercomputing challenge.for nearly a year, teams of students here in grades 6 through 12 have met after school to take part in a challenge, trying to solve problems using computational thinking.after school on a monday night, sisters lily and heidi macfarlane, along with their 6th grade classmate eojhan knight, review comments from a recent presentation of their project that they say could help crop dusters improve safety and efficiency.these students had to understand how to use a program to write code to solve problems which for some students like lily macfarlane took time.“we had no idea what to do for the netlogo and that was just the start of it,” she said. “we had to do the codes, and we had to make a model for it on the computer. i didn’t even know how to operate a computer and that was pretty weird cause i’m in this grade.”macfarlane says understanding how to code and learn computational thinking was just like getting to know people.“you know how you make a new best friend, then you finally see what they’re thinking and what they might think,” she said. ...





competition fosters computer skills in rural nm school district

in new mexico, computer science courses are not mandated by the state. many schools in metropolitan areas offer these courses, but few rural school districts do. however, one rural school district has turned to new mexico’s supercomputing challenge to offer computer science education.the village of melrose may be small, but that hasn’t stopped the school district from competing in new mexico’s supercomputing challenge.for nearly a year, teams of students here in grades 6 through 12 have met after school to take part in a challenge, trying to solve problems using computational thinking.after school on a monday night, sisters lily and heidi macfarlane, along with their 6th grade classmate eojhan knight, review comments from a recent presentation of their project that they say could help crop dusters improve safety and efficiency.these students had to understand how to use a program to write code to solve problems which for some students like lily macfarlane took time.“we had no idea what to do for the netlogo and that was just the start of it,” she said. “we had to do the codes, and we had to make a model for it on the computer. i didn’t even know how to operate a computer and that was pretty weird cause i’m in this grade.”macfarlane says understanding how to code and learn computational thinking was just like getting to know people.“you know how you make a new best friend, then you finally see what they’re thinking and what they might think,” she said. ...