Sept. 11 First News: New rules approved for state's copper mining industry. (listen)

The New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission has approved modifications to the Environment Department’s Copper Rules. Tuesday’s newly approved rules were developed by the Environment Department with an industry outreach process along with bi-partisan support of a group of state lawmakers. After years of litigation by copper mining concerns, law required the state to develop regulations that clearly set forth the appropriate controls to prevent or abate ground water pollution. The new rules now establish multiple ground and surface water protections applied uniformly to all mining ventures unlike the case-by-case regulations in years past.

Meanwhile, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center opposes the modifications, saying they allow mining concerns to violate the state’s Water Quality Act.  They plan to take the matter to the state Court of Appeals.

Reacting to President Obama’s speech to the nation last evening regarding the Syrian crisis, Senator Tom Udall repeated his call for the US to use diplomatic, economic and political pressure to ensure Russia and Syria keep their commitment to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons to international control. Congressman Ben Ray Luján says that if Syria is serious about compliance, then the US should continue seeking a diplomatic process, working with our international allies. And Senator Martin Heinrich says that the recent diplomatic progress would not have been possible without the credible threat of US military force. 

Enrollment at all New Mexico State University campuses continues to decline. The Las Cruces Sun News reports this year's numbers are 5% lower than 2012, continuing a trend observed for several years. NMSU's vice president for student affairs and enrollment says that a key factor in the decline is a drop in the number of New Mexico high school graduates. Another portion of the decline is among graduate students, decreasing almost 6% this year.

The State Taxation and Revenue Department is investigating a scam involving offers of cheaper auto insurance. New Mexicans have reported receiving automated phone calls claiming to be from the Motor Vehicle Division offering discounted insurance and asking folks to call back a 575 area code number.  Taxation & Revenue says the MVD does not sell insurance and warns consumers against making themselves vulnerable to fraud.

Santa Fe Public Schools hosts a community forum tomorrow evening to discuss the Atalaya  school construction project. Thursday's 5:30 meeting at Kaune Elementary will feature a presentation by the Community-District Working Group followed by a Q&A session. The $13 million new construction at Atalaya includes 23,000 square feet of additions with classrooms, restrooms and a new gym among others. Construction began last month and is expected to be completed by June of next year.

The 75th edition of the State Fair gets underway today at Albuquerque's Expo New Mexico and runs through Sunday, September 22nd. This year, the Fair is once again condensed to 12 consecutive days. Daily attendance has grown from 8,000 people a day back in 1938 to some 35,000 daily in recent years.

Weather for Santa Fe – partly cloudy skies expected today with a 60% chance for showers and thunderstorms and highs in the mid 70s. The heaviest rains will be off to our east today but will set up over us once again tomorrow. Thursday brings an 80% chance for rains throughout the day.