August 12 First News: U-S Energy Secretary Vows To Re-Open WIPP ASAP (Listen)

Aug 12, 2014

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is vowing to get the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in operation as soon as possible. Moniz spoke in Carlsbad last night, and expressed hope that WIPP might be open by the end of next month. WIPP has been closed since February’s fire and radiation leak that contaminated 22 of the plant’s employees. During a town hall meeting Monday in Carlsbad, Moniz said the Department of Energy will stick with the community if the community will stick with the agency. Officials have yet to pinpoint what caused a barrel of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to leak in one of the plant's half-mile-deep rooms, contaminating 22 workers with low levels of radiation. But Moniz says investigators are narrowing in on a plausible theory.

Meantime, Moniz, who began Monday in Santa Fe with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell discussing renewable energy, says much work needs to be done to meet the challenges of exporting that energy to market. The two Obama Cabinet officials were meeting with state and tribal officials on renewable energy transmission, storage and distribution. More than a dozen similar meetings are being held around the country. A final report is expected in January. Jewell and Moniz say one of the biggest challenges has been working across jurisdictions to site and permit projects. They pointed to the two-billion dollar SunZia project between New Mexico and Arizona as an example.

It’s not a strike, but it sure looks like one outside Christus-St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. Nurses and medical technicians with the local chapter of the National Union of Nurses and Hospital Employees began picketing Santa Fe’s hospital Monday morning. Union President Fonda Osborn says it’s a practice. The hospital and union, however, are communicating through a federal mediator. Staffing levels are the dividing issue.

New Mexico's Interstate Stream Commission is meeting later this month to kick off its decision-making process over whether to partially dam the Gila River. The Albuquerque Journal reports that federal authorities say the costs of a dam will far outweigh the benefits. The commission has fewer than five months before it must tell the Interior Department about whether to divert up to 14-thousand acre-feet of water from the Gila River under the 2004 Arizona Water Settlement Act. Opponents worry about the financial and environmental costs of diverting water from a river often considered New Mexico's last "wild" river. Others, meanwhile, believe that a drought-prone state cannot miss a chance to take water when it's offered. The commission is in two weeks to begin its decision-making process.

A Santa Fe group has scheduled a demonstration next Sunday to support the detainees in Artesia.  KSFR's Dave Marash has details. 

TEXT:  A "Prayer Rally and March" has been scheduled for next Sunday, Aug. 17 for Artesia to support detained migrants being held in a Federal facility there.  The Santa Fe-based advocacy group Somos Un Pueblo Unido hope their demonstration spurs awareness of the problems facing the Central American women and children in their home countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and of the Federal government's attempt to short-change them on due process for their claims of asylum.   More than 600 border-crossers are currently in detention in Artesia.  For KSFR News, I'm Dave Marash.

AMC-TV says that "Breaking Bad" spinoff, "Better Call Saul," will debut in February. The network recently released a clip of sleazy attorney Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk, arguing about the importance of always having a lawyer. After the clip the word "February" is shown.Previously, AMC said "Better Call Saul" would premiere in November 2014. The series will follow Goodman as he defends drug lords, petty criminals and those allegedly injured in minor traffic accidents. In "Breaking Bad," Odenkirk played the lawyer of meth lord Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston. The New Mexico Film Office said in May that "Better Call Saul" would be filmed in Albuquerque.

Santa Fe Weather: Mostly sunny today with a 30-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms after noon and a high of 78. Tonight: Partly cloudy with a 30-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms, the low, 57. Tomorrow: Mostly sunny with a 20-percent chance for showers and thunderstorms and a high of 79.