November 14, 2019

The most popular job in town?

Posted on 30. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

I admit I’m baffled. Why do so many people want to be a Congressman or a Senator? Is it the money? I doubt it, because at $170K/year you can’t keep an apartment in DC and a house in your home constituency, fly back and forth, own a nice car in Washington (and afford a parking spot in a secure garage) and keep the family jalopy at home in tip top shape.  It’s tough to go out to dinner at fancy DC restaurants on your own tab or take expensive vacations.

There are perks, however. There’s your DC office where you can roll out a bedroll and sleep next to your desk (many Congressmen are actually doing this) if you don’t mind suffering from a stiff back the next day. You have the House gym where you can work off those nasty pounds you’ve put on from eating three low-priced meals a day in the House cafeteria.

You get your very own Blackberry and your very own computer where you can surf the net and upload your risqué photos like a now-disgraced Congressman recently did. You have a staff that will get your coffee, schedule your appointments, double as your escort to official functions and carry your briefcase around the rotunda (no point in agitating your old tennis injury). You can even dress up in furry animal suits if you feel the urge, though you do risk running afoul of PETA or possibly see yourself on You Tube (like another Congressman did this last week).

Is it the cache of the position? You get to be called ‘Representative’ or ‘Senator’ and can wear a nifty Congressional pin on your lapel or blouse, and you can easily find your way to your own office because there’s a bronze plaque by your door with your name on it. You are also followed everywhere by a gaggle of reporters who are constantly taking your picture and shoving digital recorders in your face asking for a statement on everything from nuclear proliferation to your sex life.

Maybe that’s it… it’s the sex (or rather the power that leads to sex)! Henry Kissinger once said that, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” There might just be something to it. I met Kissinger about 25 years ago and had the good fortune to talk with him briefly. While I found him to be an amiable and extremely interesting man, my mind’s eye didn’t see him occupying a top spot on the World’s Sexiest Man List next to George Clooney or Brad Pitt. I fear that many Congressional Representatives are prone to stray off the ‘values reservation’ because they have begun to believe their own public relations – PR that’s designed to create an image of them as giants with extraordinary capabilities and superhuman potency.

Unfortunately, too many of them spend too many hours in that bubble, breathing its tainted air, ignoring the rest of us who are trying to get noticed. Perhaps that’s why Congress has an approval rating of under 10%. Can there be another reason why the job is so appealing? Maybe it’s a noble one (the optimist in me thinks so) like wanting to put their stamp on the country with good laws, honestly debated by good men and women that will benefit millions of other good men and women.

But then I’m drawn to the current debate on the debt ceiling, watching our elected representatives (and the big elected representative in the White House) cavort about as if they are competing for the lead role in a bad sitcom rather than concentrating on doing the people’s business. The pessimist in me thinks that the real reason so many people may want to become a Congressman or Senator is that it’s easier than running away from home and joining the circus.

- The Editor

 

On a paw and a prayer

Posted on 30. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

On July 17, I was contacted by a rescue organization re:  two dogs which were lost on July 3rd in Dalhart, Texas after an Albuquerque couple, Albert and Cyndi Bass, were in a truck accident outside of Dalhart. Albert is a truck driver.  Their two dogs, Max and Maya, were being held by a deputy, but somehow he lost his grip on them. The Basses worked non-stop in Dalhart, putting up posters, talking to people, contacting the newspaper, etc.  Since the Basses have no children, these dogs mean the world to them. Max is a Boxer/Lab mix.

After learning about this sad situation, I called to tell them about the pet detective in Oklahoma who uses tracking dogs to find lost dogs.  It was not something they were in a position to do.  I asked them to keep me posted.  On July 20, I learned that Maya had been found, and Albert and Cyndi had already gone back to Dalhart to retrieve her.  She was covered from head to toe with ticks.  A Ms. Porter had been able to gain Maya’s trust after three days of coaxing, read her tags, and called the Basses.  She had also seen Max, but could not get near him.  I called to say how happy I was at the good news.  It was then that I learned that because Albert’s rig was being repaired, and he is not working, their financial situation did not allow them to return to Dalhart to continue to look for their beloved Max.

Max is shy and has been sighted, but won’t allow anyone to approach.  This is normal lost dog behavior for a shy dog that has been lost this long. I am 99.9% certain that he won’t go to anyone except his people.  He is ranging in a seven mile radius, and also around the accident site.  How horrible would it be to realize that a beloved pet was running in circles, in a strange environment, trying to find you, and you can’t be there for him?

Pet Alert was given a donation from a grateful pet owner for helping in the recovery of his lost dog.  When I learned about the plight of Albert and Cyndi, I knew exactly where that donation had to be used. The Basses left for Dalhart yesterday, with Maya, because it is important to have a magnet animal that the lost dog knows. With two other donations, we are able to help them to stay in a motel through July 30th, and provide the gas money for the round trip.

I was very hopeful that it would be enough time to locate Max, but there has been a setback.  Albert spoke with a man yesterday who had spotted Max and went inside to get a hot dog for him, but when he came back outside, Max ran, and he ran into an electric fence. The man heard him yelp. It is not known whether Max will return to this area, which was the best bet for setting up a feeding station, and getting him to return to one spot on a regular basis. It is very difficult to realize that they may have to leave Dalhart again, without Max.

I met Albert and Maya on Saturday.  These are good people, and Maya is a sweetheart.  It is easy to see how much Maya means to them. I contacted the Amarillo Globe News today, hoping that they will do a human interest story on this, and give people an opportunity to offer help, either with a spare room, or a monetary donation.  I don’t know what the outcome of that will be.   Diane Trull of the Dalhart Animal Wellness Group and Sanctuary has graciously agreed to accept any donations on behalf of Max Bass. If you feel inclined to offer any help to the Basses so that they can continue to stay to look for Max, this is the address for the Dalhart Shelter:

Dalhart Animal Wellness Group/The Max Bass Fund

P.O. Box 911

12080 County Rd. #38

Dalhart, TX  79022

You can also send your contribution via  http://luvinlabs.chipin.com/help-max-get-home

Thank you for taking the time to read this through.  I hope I will be able to send out a truly fantastic Happy Tail on this one! The most exciting next step for EMPA is one that I am dying to announce, but need to wait until a little more progress is made.  Knowing how desperately we have needed a tracking dog for our lost dogs, this has been a dream for over two years.  Now, a member has adopted a bloodhound for this purpose, but training has not yet started.  Our trainer is a man who has 20 years experience in search and rescue dog training for people, and the principles are the same. “Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” – Roger Caras.  Woof!

This article was submitted by Joyce Lewis of the East Mountain Pet Alert. She can be reached at www.eastmountainpetalert.org.  We wholeheartedly support her work and the work of hundreds of volunteers at shelters and veterinary clinics and all those wonderful guardian angels watching out for our four-legged friends when they get lost. – The Editor

 

 

 

Increase Revenues, don’t Raise Taxes to fix the Debt Crisis

Posted on 28. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics

Admittedly, we, as a country, need to get past this debt-ceiling crisis and, consequently, it has consumed the news cycle. But, the proposed solutions focus mainly on two elements of the problem, while the rating agencies seem to be looking at the bigger picture. Whether Republican or Democrat, the plans address only cutting spending or raising taxes, and the $14 trillion number is too large to meet in the middle—even if we did both. Long term, what Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s are looking for is a plan moving forward that will fix the future.

So, how’d we get here? The over-simplified answer is basically the same way any household account gets into trouble: too much spending and not enough income. Both sides of the debate seem willing to cut some spending. President Obama apparently thinks the only way to increase revenue is by raising taxes.

It is universally accepted that the bad economy, with its resulting unemployment and lack of consumer spending have cut into the funds that typically fill the federal coffers in a robust economy—even Research In Motion, the maker of the Blackberry, is laying off 2000 employees, and GE (GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt, serves as a top adviser to the Obama administration on job creation) is moving its X-Ray headquarters to China and investing $2 billion there. With more people unemployed, there is less income, and therefore less income tax to fund the federal programs.

Despite the bad numbers, the administration’s policies continue to discourage a true revenue increase while the President continues to support raising taxes.  A variety of business and industrial groups are working together to point out the detrimental impact of the EPA’s proposed new ozone ruling, calling it, “one of the greatest threats to U.S. economic growth and job creation.” If implemented, the new rule will put most of the country, including nearly all of California, in a non-attainment status, which will require, as estimated by the EPA, $20-90 billion annually. Companies would be punished by having to obtain emission offsets (doing through regulation what—at the prodding of the people—Congress didn’t support in cap-and-trade proposals), install controls, and face expensive retrofits just to be allowed to continue current operations. While these regulatory fixes may create some short-term jobs, the regulations will seriously damage America’s ability to compete in the future in this economic war—all for no substantial benefit.

Earlier this month, the EPA issued tougher rules for power plants. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is just one of many rules that have been recently introduced that will, ultimately, close down coal-fueled power plants and make energy more expensive for Americans—taking away the one advantage America has in the global marketplace: comparatively cheap energy. Even before the new rule was finalized, coal-fueled power plants were already on-track to spend $125 billion through 2015 for emissions controls. Additionally, coal-fueled electricity generators find themselves facing expenditures of another $10.9 billion a year to comply with a proposed regulation called the MACT rule that, according to EPA’s own projections, will be one of the most expensive rules ever written by EPA for coal-fueled power plants. These regulations make electricity more expensive as the costs are ultimately passed on to the ratepayer—both industry and the consumer.

And it is not just the EPA. There is the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, all of which are working to block oil-and-gas extraction in America—while making us more dependent of foreign oil. Despite the dearth of off shore drilling permits, the underhanded efforts to stop oil and gas development, and the silly requirements that must be met to extract natural resources, one of the few segments that is adding jobs are the extractive industries. During the second quarter of 2011, US oil field jobs were up nearly 20,000. Imagine what that number might be if the government agencies encouraged rather than impeded? And, these are hard numbers just for oil and gas—but most industry is facing excessive regulation from a variety of agencies.

“Mr. Obama,” borrowing what we used to say in the motivational speaking world, “If there was a way to quickly increase revenues through putting Americans back to work, you’d want to know about it, wouldn’t you?” Any reasonable person would shout back, “Yes!” But that does not seem to be the administration’s real goal.

The President’s policies have come home to roost. The dismal employment numbers, the loss of businesses fleeing to other countries, and the high energy prices that hurt individual families and hamper the nation’s productivity have come to a head and rating agencies are telling us this isn’t working. Mr. President, you didn’t listen to the 2010 election results. Will you listen to the people who have the ability to downgrade all of America, if you do not produce a real change in economic direction? America’s future depends on it.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon. Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. www.EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org.


 

 

Are new environmental laws and regulations worth the gamble?

Posted on 28. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Politics

The local utility company had just released their report outlining how they’d met the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), passed by the legislators back in 2007. I posted the following on my Facebook page: “New Mexico Utility Company report outlining future energy plans = more expensive electricity facing all states with RPS.” A long series of posts followed including this one from Steve: “The sky is WAY too clean! Let’s get some Los Angeles-style haze going on.  And our water? Way too clean… let’s dump battery acid in it! There’s not enough lung cancer in NM to support our private cancer clinics—let’s get some air pollution in this mother! If you want to live where you can see the sun and breathe the air, sorry, it might have to cost a little more.”

Next, Todd posted: “Are you arguing that the current environment is so bad that we have the cancer, the haze, the battery acid? Are you saying that people who violate the law will not be prosecuted? It seems so. I would also suggest that you have a burden of proof here. You would need to prove that the system is broken before requiring new laws.” Steve didn’t post again.

I spent 20 years living in and around Los Angeles in the 1970s and 80s and still have family there. Decades ago, the air was nasty. There were days when the mountains surrounding the area completely disappeared. But that has been cleaned up, and the “Los Angeles-style haze” is no more. Cities throughout America look nothing like they did in the 70s. In New Mexico, where this argument originated, the skies are crystal clear—except, perhaps, when nature blows the desert’s dust around. And this is before the RPS plan is implemented. There are laws. Violators are prosecuted. How much more will we gain with these expensive and unproven new technologies?

Like my Facebook “friend,” Nissan seems to think we are still living in a “dirty” past. Their ad for the new “100% electric Leaf” shows everyday items that run on electricity—a computer, a hair dryer, a dental drill—as running on a gasoline-powered motor. These modern conveniences are spewing out foul smoke and, the computer specifically, has dirty carbon build up around the key and the gas pedal. However, today’s gasoline-powered vehicles are clean. They do not have the yuckiness the ad implies.

Additionally, the implication is that electricity comes from the wall. In fact, it most frequently comes from coal or natural gas—both carbon-based fuels. The electric Leaf or Volt really runs on carbon, but the tailpipe is at the power plant. But even that is not as the renewable proponents want you to believe. Like the modern car, today’s power plants have cleaned up—there are scrubbers and pollution control systems and what you see coming out of the stack is now mainly water vapor or steam.

Earlier this week, a worker from Baltimore Gas & Electric showed up at a friend’s business and announced he was there to do a “light bulb audit.” He would evaluate the number of light bulbs and BG&E would pay 80% of the cost to replace them with made-in-China CFL’s. The business owner asked where BG&E was getting the money to reimburse the costs. Reluctantly the worker admitted, “From the ratepayers. But, if you replace them next year, after the incandescent bulb is banned, you’ll have to pay 100%.”

Our elected officials can regulate where people get their energy and make electric bills higher. They can mandate more expensive cars that require taxpayer-funded incentives to encourage people to buy them. They can make laws that take away choice in light bulbs requiring more expensive and less effective ones. But why? What will we gain? Is “the current environment so bad?”

Addressing England’s efforts to meet Europe’s renewable standards, The Economist states: “Offshore wind, many gigawatts of which the government wants to subsidise, is one of the costliest ways known to man of getting carbon out of the energy system. … Trying to get there by a pell-mell fielding of the costliest renewables is pointless.”

The same issue of The Economist, calls Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s, newly proposed carbon tax “An expensive gamble” saying that she is staking her future on it. “Ms Gillard faces the task of rescuing her government by selling her bold carbon plan to a skeptical public.” The article reports, “When the Lowy Institute, a think-tank, asked Australians to nominate their country’s most important foreign-policy goals in 2007, … ‘tackling climate change’ topped the list. In the same poll this year, that goal dropped to tenth place; first now was ‘protecting the jobs of Australian workers.’ For a country with an envious unemployment rate of 4.9%, it seemed an odd change in priorities. But it reflected, perhaps, the shifting dynamics of climate politics.”

With the air and water clean, and economic worries topping the polls, why, indeed, do we need new laws and regulations that make everything more expensive and sacrifice jobs to fix a system that isn’t broken? It is an “expensive gamble” that American lawmakers shouldn’t be taking.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon. Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. www.EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org.


 

 

 

News from the New Mexico Chapter of the USGBC

Posted on 22. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Education, Energy/Environment

As of July 26, the USGBC-New Mexico Chapter will be located in the Associated General Contractors-NM office at 1615 University NE.  Our email and phone remain the same.  A special thanks to Vicki Mora, Chief Executive Officer of AGC, who has made this space donation possible!  Another huge thank you to the New Mexico Design Center that has provided the chapter with office space for the past two years!

Greening Your Organization: “How to Design Sustainability Programs for Your Organization”

USGBC-NM is sponsoring a workshop on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2 – 5 PM, in partnership with the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, to show you how to find ways to reduce your environmental impact while using low- and no-cost resources.  Carrie McChesney of Concept Green will present the course.  Carrie’s firm is a 2011 Women’s Business Enterprise Rising Star nominee and national recipient of Green For All’s Capital Access Coaching Program for emerging green businesses.  NM Green Chamber members will receive same discount as USGBC-NM members.

USGBC-NM Webinar Series: August Webinar:  Green Infrastructure & Buildings (LEED ND)

August’s webinar (1.5 GBCI/LEED ND/AIA CEU’s) will be presented on Wednesday, Aug 10, at Palo Santo Designs in Santa Fe and at the Design Group in Albuquerque.  A second Albuquerque showing will be held Tuesday, August 16.  Bring lunch, connect with peers and earn easy CEU credits!

Green Associate Exam Prep

AGC-NM Is Offering USGBC-NM Members Discount on Exam Prep. The AGC-NM Building Branch is offering USGBC-NM members the AGC member price for the Green Associate Exam Prep Class which begins July 29th (a savings of $100.00).  There are still seats available in this popular 20-hour class.  7.5 CE hours will be awarded.  Students from previous classes have successfully passed their Green Associate Exam the first sitting.  They attribute their success to the 4 each 3-hour instructor led evening study sessions added to the 8-hour class scheduled Friday 7/29. Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding has been obtained so the AGC and USGBC-NM member price for WIA qualified applicants would be $288.00 instead of $575.00.  For more info, contact: Margo Maher, AGC Education Director, 842-1462

This information was submitted by the USGBCNM. For more information, email usgbcnm@wildapricot.org

Nothing Unexpected in June Home Sales Trends

Posted on 22. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Social/Cultural

The housing market in New Mexico continues to move along – generally at a somewhat sluggish pace (but with bright spots in some markets).  The best news from June reports is that median house prices seem to be beginning to stabilize. Teresa Ramos, 2011 President of the REALTORS Association of New Mexico, reports that “National trends show existing-home sales eased in June and prices were up slightly; in New Mexico, both sales numbers and median price are higher than those reported in May 2011.”

Statewide, June sales are up 7% from May, for a total of 1,267 sales, and the majority of reporting markets showed an increase.  However, June 2010 sales numbers were nearly 14% higher than 2011 numbers.  June 2010 was the last month buyers could take advantage of the tax incentives, contributing to higher sales last year.  June 2011 median price of $167,000 is up slightly from May 2011 when the median was $165,500.  The 2011 second quarter median of $165,000 is the same as median reported during first quarter 2011.

Total year to date sales are down just over 10% from 2010 year to date sales, however 7 reporting markets do show an increase from year to date 2010.  The 6,330 sales reported January through June 2011 is 5.3% higher than the number of sales reported for the same time period in 2009.

Second quarter 2011 sales numbers in New Mexico are higher than first quarter 2011 – 3,555 compared to 2,775.  Total sales second quarter 2011 are 15.5% lower than second quarter 2010 sales.  Again, 2010 figures reflect tax incentives no longer available to home buyers. RANM Executive Vice President M. Steven Anaya summed up the latest New Mexico housing reports with “The economy is in an uneven recovery.  Home sales are trending up without a tax stimulus, but a variety of issues continue to weigh on the market including an including tight credit, low appraisals, continued economic uncertainty, and the federal budget debacle.”

The trends and numbers reported are only a snapshot of market activity.  If you are interested in buying or selling, consult a REALTOR familiar with your market area; he/she can provide information on specific trends in your neighborhood.

Statistical information and trends are based on information furnished by New Mexico Member Boards and MLSs to U. S. House Stats. Current reporting participants are: Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS, Las Cruces Association of REALTORS MLIS, New Mexico Multi-Board MLS (Artesia, Carlsbad, Clovis/Portales, Deming, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Vegas, Sierra County areas), Otero County Board of REALTORS, Roswell Association of REALTORS, Ruidoso/Lincoln County Association of REALTORS, Santa Fe Association of REALTORS, San Juan County Board of REALTORS, Silver City Regional Association of REALTORS, and the Taos Association of REALTORS. Reports represent single family residential data only.  Information does not necessarily represent all activity in any market/county.  Figures based on reports run 7/19/11.  Visit www.nmrealtor.com (housing trends) for county and board statistics.

This information was submitted by the Realtors Association of New Mexico. The REALTORS Association of New Mexico is one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing over 5,700 members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate market.

 

Prescription Trails – Get Up and Get Moving!

Posted on 18. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Healthcare, Social/Cultural

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, when Dr. Julie B., considers a patient’s health issues she can offer a choice of treatments. Dr. Julie B., tells her patient, “I can give you medicine that will treat one condition and cost money, or I can give you a prescription for physical activity that will help prevent a whole range of diseases, is free, and will last a lifetime.”

If the patient is interested, she writes up a walking prescription with the patient and provides it with a guidebook to accessible walking trails. The patient now has a clear way to accomplish a physical activity goal. The epidemics that result from an indoor, sedentary lifestyle requires action from all sectors of society. Parks and public lands are an underutilized healthcare resource that can and must be used to help solve the problem

Prescription Trails Program

Prescription Trails identifies walking and wheelchair rolling routes that are both safe and accessible to patients and families to promote healthy lifestyles. To make sure that people engage in appropriate levels of physical activity, healthcare professionals assess their patients for readiness to start or maintain a walking program and then write tailored prescriptions based on their current physical condition. Being physically active is key to living longer, healthier, happier lives and can help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lowers the risk for certain diseases.

Walking programs can contribute to the treatment and prevention of a number of constant conditions such as diabetes, depression and high blood pressure. Information about parks and trails are available by zip code, making it easy for people to see what is available in different areas of the city. Increased use of public parks and trails may lead to support for more information about the resources for walking paths in parks and improvements in pedestrian access on public streets.

For more information on the Prescription Trails Program, visit www.prescriptiontrailsnm.org including maps of parks and trails, safety tips and a short video.  Prescription Trails currently has programs in Albuquerque, Bernalillo County Open Space, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, each of which has active coalitions that support the local program. Each coalition has a standard collection of tools to help patients fill their prescriptions, including a Prescription Trails walking guide booklet to local “approved” parks and trails, with photos and detailed information about park locations, amenities, and trail. Expansion programs are underway in Roswell, Alamogordo, Rio Rancho and Las Vegas.

Written and submitted by Charm Lindblad. She can be contacted at: clind48535@aol.com

Forest Service Hosts Fire/Flood Recovery and Restoration Workshops

Posted on 18. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The Southwestern Region of the Forest Service is working with federal, state, and local agency partners to host two Fire and Flood Recovery workshops, which will provide communities affected by fires and floods with a forum to learn about available funding and technical assistance opportunities.  The workshops will be held Tuesday, July 26 in Santa Fe and Thursday, July 28 in Ruidoso and are open to individual homeowners, business owners, community leaders, and affected tribes.

“I know fires and floods have or will affect many in our state, and it can be very difficult to navigate the various assistance programs,” stated Regional Forester Corbin Newman.  “I’m very pleased USDA agencies as well as representatives from other federal, state, and local agencies can offer this opportunity for our communities to learn what programs are available to them,” he added.

New Mexico received 2 percent or less of normal precipitation for the first 6 months of the year.  The record dry conditions were accompanied by higher than normal temperatures, sustained high winds through May and June, and extremely low relative humidity readings – all contributing to extremely volatile fire potential. Large fires began with the White and Last Chance Fires on the Lincoln National Forest and the Miller Fire on the Gila National Forest—all in April.  In May, we saw the Mayhill Fire on the Gila, followed in June by a portion of the Wallow Fire and the Pacheco and Las Conchas Fires on the Santa Fe National Forest.  Now, many areas of the state are receiving monsoonal moisture, which can and will bring floods and other impacts to burned areas and surrounding communities.

The workshops will begin with a brief overview of the fire season, immediate efforts underway to stabilize burned areas and protect communities from floods, and the long-term needs for restoration. The remainder will be an open house format where attendees can meet with agency representatives who have information on assistance programs. Information will be available on topics such as rehabilitation efforts; grazing; livestock and agriculture; watershed and forest restoration; community infrastructure; small business assistance; and housing and insurance. There will be an identical afternoon (2:00–4:30 p.m.) and evening session (6:00–8:30 p.m.) at each location.

Among the representatives at the workshops will be the Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, FEMA, Army Corps of Engineers, New Mexico State Forestry, New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other agency partners.

Dates, times, and locations:

July 26 – Santa Fe, NM

2:00-4:30 p.m. & 6:00-8:30 p.m.

Buffalo Thunder Hotel

20 Buffalo Thunder Trail

(15 minutes north of Santa Fe)

July 28 – Ruidoso, NM

2:00-4:30pm & 6:00-8:30pm

Ruidoso Convention Center

111 Sierra Blanca Drive

This information was submitted by: Mark Chavez. He can be reached at: mchavez@fs.fed.us. Information on these workshops is also posted at http://www.fs.usda.gov/r3.

Thanks legislators, higher energy bills are on the way

Posted on 15. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment

The price of everything is going up and much of the increase can be traced back to energy costs. With unemployment high and the economy threatening a double dip, wouldn’t you think our elected officials would be doing everything possible to cut energy costs and, therefore, lower prices to help ease the pain the public is feeling? Not!

Legislators in more than half the states have voted for mandatory renewable energy standards—usually called an RPS for Renewable Portfolio Standards. While the numbers vary state-by-state, an RPS generally requires that an increasing percentage of a state’s electricity come from renewable sources—primarily wind and solar—by set dates. Most of the mandates coincide with the year: 15% by 2015, 20% by 2020, etc. Most states voted in the RPS back when the economy was thriving and “green” energy sounded like a good idea—after all the wind and the sun are “free.” Voting against “renewables” was akin to not liking puppies. Elected officials from both parties have voted for their state’s RPS. But, renewable energy systems have not proven to be free, and most cannot survive without special mandates and subsidies paid for by your tax dollars.

We now know that while the wind blows and the sun shines, converting them to electricity is expensive. We also know that with the troubled economy, no one wants more expensive energy—especially when there are questions about how “green” it really is.

In New Mexico, a citizen working group has spent the last ten months in meetings with PNM—the primary state utility company. The goal: to produce a report—as required by the Public Regulatory Commission (PRC)—that outlines how the company plans to meet the state’s RPS. That report is being delivered to the PRC on Monday, July 16.

The 236-page document can be summed up in three simple words: more expensive electricity.

Many different computer models were run to determine the least-cost way to meet the mandates. The results should not be surprising. The least-cost model was based on coal—but it does not meet the mandates. The least-cost model that does meet the mandates requires the addition of wind, solar and gas-fueled power plants and shuts down some of the older, existing, fully functional, coal-fueled power plants. The model favored by advocates of “green” energy cuts out coal all together and requires the building of new gas-fueled plants for base load power and to back up the renewables.

This third model is the most expensive and therefore is unlikely to be selected by the PRC. But even the mid-range plan will cost state residents more than a billion dollars—and this is just for required CO2 penalties, not the actual power-plant capital costs. That increase will be felt in everything and disproportionately hurts the poor. Not to mention the increased costs to the cities within the state which are trying to balance their budgets while keeping the lights on.

Coal and Nuclear were found to be the lowest cost energy generating systems available, yet they are not in PNM’s portfolio for the foreseeable future. The report states that renewable energy systems are expensive, yet they are in the plan.  It is bad enough that states have to deal with the rising costs forced on them from the federal level—such as the EPA’s Best Available Retrofit Technology regulations, but to have local legislators vote for higher energy costs is baffling.

Once New Mexico’s plans are approved by the PRC and the plants are built, ratepayers will see a huge jump in electric bills—but by then, when people become outraged, it will be too late. If PNM is required to implement this plan, they rightly will need to recoup their costs and there will be a rate increase.  The time to fight such increases is now, when the report makes the higher costs clear—right there in black and white (and color).  In New Mexico, we are asking folks to call their Senator and State Representative and have a complete list of current legislators who voted for the RPS in 2007 in the “Act Now” section of EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org. If your state has an RPS—more than half do—use the New Mexico report to stir up the debate. Demand that the RPS be repealed—before it is too late!

This article was written and submitted by Marita Noon. Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy. www.EnergyMakesAmericaGreat.org.


Is our pond too small or are we fishing in the wrong place?

Posted on 14. Jul, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy

I have a friend who’s decided to move her business out of New Mexico. This was not an easy decision. I know, because we discussed it over many months. I failed to persuade her, however, and she’ll be hanging out her company shingle in Dallas in July after living nearly a decade here. She will be leaving behind a grown daughter, many friends and business contacts, former clients and good memories gleaned from many positive experiences. Businesses – like people – can’t survive on memories or on past successes. In our American society, we are only as good as our last performance, but when this is coupled with a deepening recession and the New Mexican attitude of what have you done for me lately, we could see many more businesses head for the exit sign.

Let me explain before this gets too confusing.

Our business sector is not healthy. We don’t have enough well-funded, experienced small businesses that can compete with top notch products and services, and even if they could, there aren’t enough potential customers out there or enough wealth in circulation to sustain them.

We’re top heavy with federal investment in the form of our national labs and military bases, and while these institutions (which I truly admire) do great work and serve to push up our average earnings in the state by employing lots of PhDs and technology specialists, they don’t push out nearly enough of that wealth of creativity and knowledge beyond their walls to the pond where entrepreneurs can turn it into New Mexican jobs. I feel obliged at this point to fall on one knee and thank the Feds for allowing us to keep our bases and labs, otherwise we’d be in double-digit unemployment territory. Without them we’d have fewer ‘downstream’ businesses (suppliers to the labs), and that would set off big alarm bells in hundreds of New Mexican families.

What I’m really saying is that we’re too dependent on federal government investment. We’re not diversified enough. We don’t have enough light-to-medium manufacturing. We don’t have a critical mass of larger companies that use the services of smaller ones. We don’t have enough semi-skilled labor or labor that is ‘second-tier technical’ (the near scientists).  Our tax environment is business unfriendly and our state bureaucracy is unwieldy. While our heads may be soaring in the clouds of the information age and the new-tech economy, our feet and attitudes are mired in the bottom of the pond.

I lived in Singapore for four years, and the expats there would sometimes make fun of their unusual English language usage. For example, when asked if they (the native Singaporeans) could do something, the response was almost always, “Can, can.” There was never a quizzical or doubtful look, but always a positive retort, no matter if redundant. Singaporeans wanted to work and were willing to – any time, any place.

New Mexico is a long way from Singapore in many ways, but I refuse to believe that we’re past the point of no return from that long slide towards bottom. To keep from doing so we will need to make some tough decisions about what kind of business climate we want in the future, otherwise we will most definitely find ourselves swimming with the fishes instead of angling for them. The timing couldn’t be better. Our 100th birthday as a state is coming up in 2012. Let’s start talking about how we can make New Mexico more business-friendly, so that more of them don’t leave us behind with only their memories to keep our tax base warm.

Stephan J. HelgesenStephan Helgesen is a former U.S. diplomat and is currently Honorary Consul for Germany in New Mexico. He can be reached at: stephanhelgesen@cs.com

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