Sept. 19, 2017
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Morning Word: DACA Deadline

September 6, 2017, 7:30 am

DACA demonstrations
Thousands of students and supporters across New Mexico left class yesterday to protest President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. There's a one-month window for young people who have work permits that expire in the next six months to renew them. That renewal should last two years. It may or may not be up to Congress to pass a law that addresses DACA immigrants, as the president has signaled both that he wants them to come up with a solution or he could act on his own—something for which Republicans excoriated President Obama when he created the program.  

High and dry
A dozen years ago, New Mexico sent scores of highly trained urban search and rescue team members to Louisiana and Texas to help as hurricanes battered the Gulf Coast. Today, the elite task force is defunct and defunded by the feds, its equipment given to a more mission-ready team in New Jersey and what's left over is apparently being parceled out to communities who say they can use it. SFR looks at what went wrong and why the state agency that oversaw the FEMA-approved task force doesn't want to talk about it.

Judge won't stop radio ads
State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn lost his bid to force campaign ads off the air. The ads, run by Santa Fe Democrat and candidate Garrett VeneKlasen, raise questions about Dunn's purchase of a ranch just months before a power company announced plans to build a transmission line through it. The ranch is now for sale. A judge said the ads were snarky and implied they didn't offer much in the way of valuable political discourse, but said he'd rather have that than curtail free speech. Dunn, by the way, isn't running for reelection. He'll try for Steve Pearce's open congressional seat in southern New Mexico.

LANL director to retire
Charles McMillan is calling it a career at Los Alamos National Lab. The director told employees he plans to step down at the end of the year. As with many lab heads in recent years, his tenure has been a mixed bag. The lab has seen its budget and hiring increase over the past few years, but it's also been at the heart of a mistake that shut down the nation's only nuclear waste facility. Hazardous material handling and safety concerns at the lab remain an issue.

WIPP expansion plans
A federal report says the transuranic waste facility should be expanded before it hits capacity in less than a decade. That could mean upgrading the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad to handle higher-level nuclear waste. WIPP recently reopened after the accident mentioned above caused a shutdown of the facility.

Martinez goings-on
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez' publicly available calendar recently got a multi-month makeover. The governor's staff added three months' worth of appointments and phone calls to the calendar, which hadn't been updated since early June. Among the items on her agenda are a phone call with the US Secretary of the Interior and a regent interview with New Mexico State University. 

Smoky skies
Wildfires throughout the West are to blame for our nasty visibility and hazy skies. While New Mexico's fire season was relatively tame, recent weeks have been awful further west. A high pressure system parked over Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming is whipping the smoke our way. Highs today should hover around 80.

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