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Downwinders Testify At Senate Committee Hearing, State Sees Record Pecan Production

Jun 28, 2018

New Mexico Residents Testify On Atomic Bomb FalloutAlbuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Residents of a New Mexico Hispanic village near the site of the world's first atomic bomb test and people sickened by uranium mining testified at a Congressional committee Wednesday.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, spoke about the effects of the Trinity Test on generations of nearby residents to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez spoke about uranium miners in northwestern New Mexico who became ill from exposure to radiation.

They joined others from around the western U.S. as the Senate considers a bill to expand who can get compensation under the Radiation Exposure and Compensation Act.

The law only covers areas in Nevada, Arizona and Utah that are downwind from a different test site. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., has proposed a bill to expand the compensation act. It has six co-sponsors.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives.

Democratic Congressional Candidate Gets Biden's EndorsementAssociated Press

Former Vice President Joe Biden is endorsing the Democratic contender in the race for New Mexico's sprawling 2nd Congressional District.

Water attorney Xochitl Torres Small of Las Cruces announced Biden's support Thursday, saying the former vice president led by example and reached across the aisle to solve the challenges. She said Congress needs more of that kind of leadership.

In a statement, Biden says Torres Small knows the struggles of rural America and would bring common-sense solutions to Washington, D.C.

Torres Small is running against GOP state lawmaker Yvette Herrell in a general election campaign that is expected to center around President Donald Trump and immigration.

The unpredictable district has leaned Republican in recent years and the race will help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives.

New Mexico Gets $42M Through Tax Compensation ProgramAssociated Press

The U.S. government is sending to New Mexico more than $42 million as part of a program designed to compensate local governments for the inability to collect property taxes on federally owned land within their boundaries.

The U.S. Interior Department announced the funding Wednesday, saying it marked the largest amount ever allocated through the payments in lieu of taxes program.

Thirty-two local governments in the state will share in the funding, which helps to pay for public safety, social programs and other basic services.

The annual payments are calculated based on the acreage of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction. Federal lands include national forests, national monuments and parks, national wildlife refuges and areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Fire Danger Prompts New Mexico County To Cancel Fireworks Associated Press

A Fourth of July fireworks show in Los Alamos County has been canceled due to dry conditions and extreme fire danger as crews battle blazes elsewhere around New Mexico.

The Los Alamos Monitor reports that County Fire Chief Troy Hughes broke the news Tuesday to the Kiwanis Club, which puts on the show in the community of White Rock. Hughes said the forecast provides no indication that the area will receive any significant rainfall soon.

Much of the northern half of New Mexico is dealing with extreme to exceptional drought conditions.

The Fourth of July event at Overland Park draws thousands of people from the area and is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Kiwanis Club. The club said the fireworks will be stored and used next year.

Officials Say DHS Requesting 12,000 Beds To Detain Families - By Colleen Long, Associated Press

Trump administration officials say Homeland Security has formally requested space for up to 12,000 beds at a military facility to detain families caught crossing the border illegally.

Two officials say the request asks for 2,000 beds to be up and running in the next 45 days. The remaining bed space will be made available as needed.

The request notes that the facility must comply with a 1997 agreement known as the Flores settlement, which governs how children are housed in custody. It requires air conditioning, libraries, private showers and mental health facilities.

The space will be housed at a military base but it's not clear yet which one. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday that two bases had been identified to house migrants: Goodfellow Air Force Base near San Angelo, Texas, and Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, which comprises more than 1 million acres in Texas and New Mexico.

The officials were not authorized to release details of the request publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

New Mexico Marks Record Pecan Production In 2017Associated Press

The value of New Mexico's pecan crop inched up in 2017 to more than $220 million as production reached a record high.

Statistics released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show pecan production in the arid state topped out at a record 92 million pounds last year. That's up 28 percent from 2016.

The value of New Mexico's crop was up 4 percent. The price per pound in the state was $2.40, slightly higher than the national average annual price of $2.33.

New Mexico is second only to Georgia when it comes to pecan production. Growers in that state reported an average year with 107 million pounds of pecans and negative impacts from Hurricane Irma.

Texas was a distant third with 38 million pounds .

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