Watchdog Reviewing EPA Work On Navajo Uranium Sites, Balderas Wants More Information On Uber Breach

Nov 24, 2017

EPA's Work On Navajo Nation Uranium Sites Under ReviewAssociated Press

A federal watchdog says it will review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to clean up abandoned uranium sites on the Navajo Nation.

The EPA received funding in 2015 from a $1 billion settlement to address 50 sites in northeastern Arizona. The sites were run by Kerr McGee Corp., later acquired by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

The EPA's Office of Inspector General says it wants to determine whether the EPA is prioritizing sites that present the greatest threats. Reviews generally take 18 months.

Mining in the Cove area of the reservation began in 1949 and ended in the late 1960s. The EPA and Dine College have found high concentrations of uranium in the soil and groundwater.

The EPA has installed warning signs at unregulated water wells.

Univ. Of New Mexico Hires Athletics Chief Financial OfficerAssociated Press

The University of New Mexico has hired a chief financial officer for its athletics department in the wake of controversy over spending and other fiscal matters.

The new athletics CFO is Rob Robinson, who also will serve as senior associate athletic director.

Robinson is currently senior associate athletic director for finance and administration at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

An audit found that New Mexico received $256,000 less than it should have from its athletics marketing contractor, provided donor-related perks to 23 people who had made no monetary contributions to the university or its fundraising arms, overpaid three coaches and mistakenly paid for a women's basketball player's scholarship with money donated specifically for the ski team.

Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez says hiring a CFO will help hold individuals accountable.

New Mexico Waives Day-Use Fee To Visit State Parks FridaySanta Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

Fees for visiting New Mexico state parks are being waived Friday as officials encourage people to spend more time outdoors.

Officials say the $5 day-use fees for all 34 state parks are being waived. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports this is part of the nationwide #OptOutside movement that encourages people to get outdoors over the holiday weekend.

The campaign was created by retailer REI in 2015 when it gave its employees the day off and closed its stores on the day after Thanksgiving, which is traditionally a huge shopping day.

Deployment Of New Mexico Officers To Puerto Rico Is ExtendedAssociated Press

The voluntary deployment of six Las Cruces police officers from their southern New Mexico city to Puerto Rico to help with the recovery from Hurricane Maria has been extended by two weeks.

Police Chief Jaime Montoya says the officers who deployed Nov. 14 were to have returned Saturday but now are to return on Dec. 9.

Montoya says the officers are working with state police personnel from Boston, New Jersey, Montana and New York on duties ranging from traffic control to calls involving looting, crashes and crisis intervention.

Severe Storms Make For Double Trouble In New Mexico In 2017Associated Press

A total of 501 severe thunderstorm warnings have been issued across New Mexico this year, more than double the average over the last several years.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service say 2017 has been busy as the ingredients needed to make severe weather lined up to create a string of storms.

Back-door cold fronts from the east topped by fast winds from the northwest combined with the right amount of moisture to churn out damaging winds and large hail.

The most active period followed the monsoon season, with storms stretching into September and October.

Meteorologist Kerry Jones says aside from the thunderstorm warnings, the weather service this year has issued 64 flash flood warnings and 35 tornado warnings. Those warnings spanned a large portion of the state.

New Mexico AG Wants Uber To Release More Info On Data BreachAssociated Press

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas wants Uber to release additional information about the ride-hailing company's massive data breach, including how many New Mexico residents had their personal information exposed.

The company came clean on Tuesday about its cover-up of a year-old hacking attack that stole personal information of about 57 million customers and drivers.

Balderas' letter Wednesday to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the San Francisco-based company's decision to pay a ransom and not report the breach to customers and regulators for more than a year "is gravely concerning."

Balderas' questions include how Uber learned of the breach, what security measures were in place, how the breach occurred, what remedial steps have been taken since and how Uber will notify New Mexico customers that their personal information was exposed.

New Mexico Museum Celebrates Century Of ArtAssociated Press

The New Mexico Museum of Art is marking its centennial year with a special reopening.

Officials say the daylong celebration is set for Saturday. It will include events in the museum, the surrounding streets and on the historic plaza in downtown Santa Fe.

According to museum archives, the original opening in 1917 spurred art patrons from as far away as New York to board trains for the trek to Santa Fe.

Since then, the museum has been collecting and exhibiting artwork by noted artists from New Mexico and elsewhere with the help of various funds and donors.

The permanent collection includes the work of Georgia O'Keeffe, dozens of objects related to the New Deal and the Taos Society of Artists as well as pieces by Salvador Dali and Paul Cezanne.

New Mexico Senators Seek Help For Acequias, Land GrantsAssociated Press

Traditional water and land grant associations in New Mexico would have access to additional federal resources for conservation projects under legislation introduced by members of the state's congressional delegation.

The measure was introduced by Sen. Tom Udall and is being co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Martin Heinrich.

The legislation would clear the way for acequias and land grants to apply directly for federal funding and technical assistance for projects such as increasing irrigation efficiency for farmers and further conservation of soil and other natural resources.

Udall says the state's traditional communities have been good stewards of the land and have been an integral part of New Mexico's water infrastructure since before statehood.

He says these rural communities should have the tools they need to make the most of every natural resource.

New Mexico May Be Undercounted In CensusAlbuquerque Journal

New Mexico’s return rate on federal census surveys is among the lowest in the nation and that probably results in less in federal funding.

The Albuquerque Journal reports a study by researchers at the City University of New York created an interactive map based on return rates for the 2010 census and recent population estimates. It showed New Mexico and Alaska with the lowest rates for completing census surveys.

That translates into undercounting the state’s population and demographics and thus less in federal funding. The Journal reports the census data in 2015 was used to distribute about $6 billion to New Mexico, mostly for Medicaid. Private businesses also use census data when making decisions on where to invest.

Catron County had the lowest return rate in the state with about 45 percent of residents participating. In the Albuquerque area, residents in Corrales had the lowest return rate with 55.3 percent.

The researchers note that in the past the census has undercounted “young children, people of color, rural residents and low-income households.”