Today's News

  • State, lab work out deal for safety violations

    The New Mexico Environment Department has granted the Los Alamos National Laboratory temporary relief from fines for storing 13 waste containers at the laboratory beyond their storage limit date at Tech Area 54 Area L.

    NMED was first notified of the violations by LANL when lab officials contacted the state department by phone Nov. 8 to notify them of two containers they found that were beyond the storage limit. The containers contained trace amounts of high-explosives waste.

    Eleven more containers stored in the same area were eventually included in the report.

    For now, the lab will not be penalized for the delay. The penalties for the 13 violations could have included a $10,000 a day for each violation.  

    Lab officials asked for the extension because they can’t transport the containers until they receive a permit from the United States Department of Transportation.

    “NMED is continuing to work with LANL to resolve the Notice of Violation issued by the Department on Dec. 17, 2018,” NMED Spokeswoman Maddy Hayden said.

    “NMED approved LANL’s December 2018 request for an extension to store the drums until U.S. Department of

    Transportation requirements for the drums to be moved to a disposal site are met.”

  • Looming redistricting task prompts legislation

    By Andrew Oxford
    The New Mexican

    Everybody around the state Capitol seems to have a favorite example.

    There's the state House district in Northern New Mexico that is split in two by a mountain range and wilderness. You couldn't drive across it if you tried.

    Then there's the state Senate district that stretches some 180 miles from Santa Fe to Ruidoso.

    When it comes to political districts that have been precisely if nonsensically contorted, the New Mexico Legislature has got some real doozies.

    And some lawmakers already have their eyes on the next round of redistricting, when they will carve up the state's political map yet again. Or, more likely, the courts will.

    "It's so political," said state Sen. Bill O'Neill, D-Albuquerque. "... Some people are already saying, 'I want this precinct.' "

    O'Neill has backed legislation in the past that would take the job of redistricting New Mexico's political boundaries every 10 years away from lawmakers and put it into the hands of an independent commission.

  • House speaker rejects impeachment petition

    SANTA FE (AP) — The Democratic speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives says there is no way he would initiate impeachment proceedings against the state's governor for withdrawing troops from the border with Mexico.

    An online petition seeks to impeach Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for treason in withdrawing about 100 New Mexico National Guard troops and has garnered more than 30,000 signatures.

    On Tuesday, House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe said "no way, forget about it" regarding prospects for impeachment proceedings. He holds the authority to initiate House investigations.

    Lujan Grisham has challenged President Trump's description of a security crisis on the border, while leaving about a dozen national guardsmen at the border to address humanitarian needs in a remote corridor for border-crossing immigration.

    Republican Minority Whip Rod Montoya of Farmington acknowledged Tuesday that the effort to impeach Lujan Grisham likely would not go far since Democrats control the House but that the governor and her supporters in the chamber should listen to the concerns of New Mexicans.

    He said public safety should come before politics.

  • Women's caucus emerges in New Mexico Legislature

    Staff and Wire Report

    SANTA FE  — Female legislators in New Mexico have formed a women's caucus to leverage their growing numbers and influence and announced officers Tuesday.

    The caucus elected co-chairs, Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque) and Rep. Kelly K. Fajardo (R-Los Lunas), co-vice chairs Rep. Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena) and Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque), Secretary Rep. Natalie Figueroa (D-Albuquerque), Treasurer Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-Truth or Consequences), and Parliamentarian Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe).

    Romero said Monday the group includes lawmakers from both major political parties and is designed to push for reforms that can help women, children and families. The caucus is made up of 39 women from both the House and the Senate.

    “This caucus is a bipartisan effort to address the issues that affect our state, and to find solutions that will improve our communities,” said Hochman-Vigil. “We know that when women, children, and families succeed, our whole state succeeds. I am proud to be a Vice Chair of the Women’s Caucus and to work on smart solutions for our families.”

    In November elections, 31 women won election to the 70-seat state House of Representatives. That's a stark change from 1973, when there were none.

  • US expects record domestic oil production in 2019, 2020

    AP Business Writer

    The United States expects domestic oil production to reach new heights this year and next, and that prices — for both crude and gasoline — will be lower than they were in 2018.

    Government forecasters are sticking to their forecast that the United States — already the world's biggest oil producer — will become a net exporter of crude and petroleum products in 2020.

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Tuesday that it expects the United States to pump 12.4 million barrels of crude a day in 2019 and 13.2 million barrels a day in 2020. The January average was 12 million barrels a day, up 90,000 from December.

    Most of the increase is expected to come from the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, where production has been booming for several years as operators use hydraulic fracturing and other techniques to squeeze more oil and gas from shale formations.

    "The U.S. energy industry continues to transform itself," said Linda Capuano, administrator of the agency, which is part of the Energy Department.

  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park to host public tours April 5

    Los Alamos National Laboratory, in collaboration with the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Field Office and the National Park Service, will offer public tours of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park on April 5.

    Registration for the event is on a first-come, first-served basis.

    The day will consist of four tours of 25 people each, each lasting three hours.

    The LANL event complements the April 6 Trinity Site Open House located on the northern portion of White Sands Missile Range near San Antonio, N.M.

    Participants will see the Pond Cabin, which served as an office for Emilio Segrè’s Radioactivity Group studying plutonium, a battleship bunker used to protect equipment and staff during implosion design explosives testing, and the Slotin Building, site of Louis Slotin’s criticality accident.

    Members of the public are invited to register for the tours on Event Brite beginning Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. LANL tour participants must be 18 years old, U.S. Citizens, and provide proof of citizenship at the tour check in.

    Future tour opportunities will be announced throughout the year.

  • Smith criticizes cap on property valuation increases

    By Thom Cole
    The New Mexican

    An influential state senator on Monday railed against a law that changed the way New Mexico taxes residential properties, saying the 2001 measure was supposed to help low-income people but instead has hurt them while providing a windfall to wealthier homeowners.

    Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, in remarks on the Senate floor, also said the law has robbed counties of needed tax revenue.

    Smith, D-Deming, called the fallout from the law the "unintended consequences of the do-good of the Legislature."

    The senator made the remarks in response to a story in Sunday's New Mexican, which examined the law's history and effects. It was designed to protect longtime homeowners in gentrified neighborhoods like Santa Fe's east side from being taxed out of their residences due to rising property values.

    Under the law, which applies statewide, the market value of a residential property for tax purposes cannot be increased more than 3 percent a year as long as the owner remains the same. Resold and newly constructed residences are taxed at full market value.

  • Mexican wolves caught in traps in New Mexico

    Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The death of a Mexican gray wolf and injuries to another prompted environmentalists on Tuesday to call on New Mexico lawmakers to ban trapping on public land.

    Defenders of Wildlife said four wolves have been caught in traps in New Mexico over the last two months. The wolf that died was a female member of the Prieto Pack that roams northern portions of the Gila National Forest. Another member of the pack that was also trapped remains in captivity after having its leg amputated.

    The two other wolves that were caught were released into the wild.

    More than 40 wolves have been caught in traps in the Southwest since 2002, according to the group.

    "This is having a significant impact on the recovery of the species. Every wolf lost to trapping is unnecessary and unacceptable," Bryan Bird, the group's Southwest program director, said.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The wolf management team this week is conducting an annual survey to determine how many of the predators are roaming parts of New Mexico and Arizona.

  • Fleur de Lys gets a new display

    Fleur de Lys, Los Alamos’ only French Bistro and grocery store got a bit of a facelift recently when the owners decided to extend their counter space for their customers.

    “The reason why we wanted to put in a new counter is because we needed to have more space to display some of the items we sell while people wait in line,” co owner Marcel Remillieux said. “…We started with a small counter, because we never anticipated we’d have so many people here.”

    To accommodate even further the customers’ line of sight, the bistro’s menus have migrated from the east wall where the kitchen is to the north wall, right behind the new counters.

    “Now, they can wait in line and have the menu right behind us, so they can talk to us and look at the menu at the same time. Everything is aligned and in place,” Remillieux said.

    The display case for the pastries is bigger, and there’s more room for staff to accommodate customer needs also.

    “On the staff side, it gives us all the room we need to package the goods we sell. It’s more functional,” Remillieux said.

  • Functional medicine doctor can take on more patients

    Dr. Carmen Solano’s office is welcoming, its main centerpiece has a low table with four chairs facing each other. Soft, relaxing music plays in the background.

    The atmosphere is clearly designed to put patients at ease.

    Solano’s practice is unique in other ways. Solano practices a philosophy of medicine known as “functional medicine,” a type of medicine that factors in a patient’s entire medical history before giving a diagnosis.

    The idea is that when all familial and other histories are accounted for, the more accurate and successful diagnosis of a patient will be.

    “The foundation of the process is a very comprehensive health history,” Solano said. “We ask questions all the way from birth to now in terms of their medical history, their lifestyle… their stressors, their environmental exposures, family history, all of that. That information is gathered before a patient’s first visit.”

    Solano graduated from the University of Texas Medical School and has practiced family medicine for 18 years as a board-certified doctor. She opened her practice in Los Alamos in 2015. Recently, she was approved to accept Blue Cross Blue Shield medical insurance, the largest medical insurer in Los Alamos County.