Climate change’s impact on our food

There was a time when wading waist-deep into the Rio Grande in the heat of the summer’s blistering solar rays was as common as finding a wild willow tree growing by the river. But as we observe this becoming a distant memory, a new reality is emerging. A farmer friend, on his way to the river with some friends, sent me a few pictures. In it were children enjoying the river, just ankle deep, grateful even for the small reprieve. I thought of Laura Paskus’ article and the fish trying desperately to escape impending death.

DOH should acknowledge cannabis’ legitimate role in addressing opioid abuse

The New Mexico Department of Health is placing political ideology above public health by refusing to recognize the reality that cannabis offers a viable alternative to opioids (“DOH: Reports on cannabis for opioid abuse are ‘poor in quality,’ May 20). This ‘Flat Earth’ position ignores a myriad of data generated from other states, as well as from New Mexico’s own experience with medical cannabis. Population-based studies find that medical cannabis access is associated with reduced levels of opioid use, hospitalizations, and mortality. Specifically, data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported, “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8 percent lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

A pair of studies published earlier this year further finds that medical access is linked to fewer opioid prescriptions. For instance, a longitudinal analysis of opioid prescribing trends among those eligible for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage determined “that prescriptions filled for all opioids decreased by 2.11 million daily doses per year … when a state instituted any medical cannabis law.” In the second study, “State implementation of medical marijuana laws was associated with a 5.88 percent lower rate of opioid prescribing” patterns among all Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care enrollees – a high-risk population for chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and opioid overdose.

LANL to build part of next-gen nuclear weapons

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The National Nuclear Security Administration announced Thursday that New Mexico and South Carolina will share in the development of next generation nuclear weapons with expanded plutonium pit production. The “pit” is the core that triggers a nuclear warhead. The Trump administration wants to dramatically increase annual pit production, from 30 to 80. The NNSA says a troubled and not-yet-completed nuclear facility in South Carolina will be re-purposed to make 50 pits a year, while Los Alamos will make 30. Nuclear watchdog groups are alarmed by the ramp-up.

Key sites proposed for nuclear bomb production are plagued by safety problems

The Department of Energy is scheduled to decide within days where plutonium parts for the next generation of nuclear weapons are to be made, but recent internal government reports indicate serious and persistent safety issues plague both of the two candidate sites. An announcement by the Trump administration about the location is expected by May 11, in preparation for the ramped-up production of nuclear warheads called for by the Defense Department’s recent review of America’s nuclear weapons policy. This story originally appeared at the Center for Public Integrity. Some experts are worried about the safety records of either choice: Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where plutonium parts have historically been assembled, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where other nuclear materials for America’s bombs have been made since in the 1950s. Recent internal government reports obtained by the Center for Public Integrity have warned that workers at these plants have been handling nuclear materials sloppily, or have failed to monitor safety issues aggressively.

Conservatives: Methane rollback not aligned with conservative values

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship has launched a media blitz arguing the Trump administration’s plan to roll back a waste-prevention rule on methane is not consistent with conservative principles. The Obama-era rule was designed to prevent energy waste, ensure a fair return on royalties, and improve air quality. It was set to take effect earlier this year, but Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said it was a burden on the industry and called for it to be eliminated. David Jenkins is president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship. He said he wants New Mexico Republican Rep. Steve Pearce to stop supporting the rollback.

Invest in kids now: It’s morally and fiscally responsible.

New Mexico has a jobs problem. We have high crime. We’re ranked 49th in the country for child well-being, showing how much our kids suffer. Our home was just ranked the second most stressed state in the nation. These are tough issues, but there are solutions.

Preserving this conservation fund will keep public spaces safe, available for kids

Our children need nature. To grow up healthy, kids need a clean, beautiful, and accessible outdoors where they can play and discover the amazing world around them. Spending time with family while connecting with nature brings tremendous health and educational benefits to children. Fortunately, New Mexico has numerous spectacular and historically and socially significant outdoor areas and we must do all that we can to protect them. Much of New Mexico’s array of scenic beauty has been enhanced and protected by a relatively little-known federal program called the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Zinke grilled about edited science report

This story was originally published by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast. House Democrats grilled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this week about National Park Service officials deleting all references to the human cause of climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report. Zinke told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday that he and other political appointees at the Interior Department, which oversees the Park Service, have not seen the draft. And he repeated a vow that he will not censor scientific reports.

Do what works to provide student success

Teachers and other educators across the nation say “enough” to chronic underfunding of public education. Here in New Mexico, educators await a positive outcome to the lawsuit against the State for failing to provide public schools the supports necessary for statewide student success. The National Education Association-New Mexico applauds every parent, school district Board of Education and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund who bring the lawsuit. Our state constitution mandates State government to provide a “uniform system of free public schools sufficient for the education of all the children of school age.”

New Mexican children possess the same potential, intelligence, and motivation as their peers across the country.  New Mexico has loving and supportive families, committed teachers and supportive communities, but the State is starving its public schools.

Groups fight nuclear waste storage proposal in NM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Groups opposed to construction of a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s commercial reactors are on a tour this week to make sure people know what’s being proposed for southern New Mexico. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering a proposal from Holtec International to build and transport the waste, now stored in casks at various nuclear power plants around the country, to southern New Mexico. Don Hancock, director of the Southwest Research and Information Center’s nuclear-waste program, said New Mexico shouldn’t be the repository for 60 years’ worth of nuclear waste generated on the East Coast. “The proposal is to bring all that currently exists,” he said, “so, if this were to happen, the place where all this waste would be is in New Mexico, as opposed to now, when it’s in more than 30 other states and none in New Mexico.” The Holtec facility could store up to 100,000 tons of nuclear reactor waste for as long as 120 years, or until a permanent repository is built. The NRC’s 60-day public comment period on the site licensing application is open until May 29.