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Morning Word: That's Too Far

August 8, 2017, 7:30 am

I'm out
Santa Fe City Council candidate Jim Williamson, who had proudly aligned himself with the emerging populist Santa Fe Power movement, announced Monday that he's split with the group. Williamson had previously defended the right of the group's founder, Gloria Mendoza, to post a racist meme online that likened an African American congresswoman to an ape. But after his ex-wife, Nicole Castellano, posted a racist poem on Facebook, Williamson cut ties to the group. He's running for a seat in District Three. Santa Fe Power has been trying to recruit a slate of candidates for the March municipal elections.

Movement of the people
US News and World Report comes with an interesting piece on New Mexico's population problem. The economy has been so bad for so long—especially relative to nearby states—that the working-age population has dwindled. And if you read much news, you know that "dwindling" is generally not a positive term.

Albuquerque VA nixes Gulf War illness claims
A government review of Veterans Affairs medical centers across the country shows Albuquerque's facility has the nation's ninth-lowest approval rating for Gulf War illness claims. The illness is considered disabling and its signs vary widely, but include insomnia and fatigue, skin problems and indigestion. The Albuquerque VA approved less than 8 percent of its 640 claims. The government review suggests standardizing both medical examinations and a definition for the illness as a way to more fairly evaluate claims.

Gas in them thar shale cracks
The British oil giant BP says one of its gas wells in the Mancos shale patch in San Juan and Rio Arriba counties is outproducing every other well in the region. The company thinks this is the start of something big, though it's recently shifted New Mexico jobs to Colorado. BP's natural gas arm bought 33,000 acres in the San Juan Basin from Devon Energy two years ago. Hilcorp, which bought a natural gas processing plant, 10,000 wells and 900,000 acres from ConocoPhillips earlier this year, is probably also optimistic.

Your say
Speaking of gas and the San Juan Basin, Wednesday is the deadline to submit public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency about a proposed rollback of methane gas rules. The rules, which require producers to recapture fugitive gas, were put in place by the Obama administration. The EPA under President Trump wants to repeal them. The San Juan Basin is the nation's hotspot for methane emissions.

Your say, part deux
Public hearings on a proposed rate hike for PNM customers began yesterday. The company wants to recoup more than $60 million in costs related the partial shut down of its coal-powered San Juan Generating Station. Rates would rise more than 9 percent. The utility's last rate increase came less than a year ago.

Mora ambulance troubles
The state is looking into problems with emergency medical service in rural Mora County. Apparently, more than one dozen patients have been left stranded by the ambulance service there since last October. The Public Regulation Commission is looking into the problem.

'A good, vigorous August'
Well that's our favorite quote of the morning. It comes from National Weather Service guy Clay Anderson. He tells Rebecca Moss over at the New Mexican that weather patterns are ripe for a strong monsoon for the rest of the month. Highs in Santa Fe are in the upper 70s today, before warming a few degrees into the rest of the week.

Thanks for reading! The Word loves The Fugitive. Such a good flick. Maybe the EPA could sell the methane rule if Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford got together for a public service announcement. "You find that gas! (Find that gas, find that gas...)"

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