Sept 6 First News: EIB approves PNM shutdown of 2 units at San Juan. (listen)

On a unanimous 6 member vote, the Environmental Improvement Board has approved plans for PNM to shut down two of four coal-fired units at the San Juan Generating Station. The State of New Mexico, PNM and the Environmental Protection Agency have been working out differences in approaches to addressing air quality issues in the Four Corners area. The EIB-approved agreement also includes installation by PNM of emission control technology on the two other units that will remain in operation. The agreement now goes to the EPA and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for their approvals.

Clerks from all 33 counties in New Mexico have formally requested the state Supreme Court to rule on the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In recent days, some lower court judges have ordered clerks to begin doing so, citing equal protection provisions of the state constitution.  Eight counties have issued 915 such licenses in the past two weeks with a number of lawsuits filed by marriage equality opponents. The clerks' petition for a writ of superintending control is likely to hasten action on the matter from the high court.

Down Albuquerque way, a $93 million makeover of the I-25 interchange at Paseo del Norte has broken ground. The New Mexico Department of Transportation Project will begin heavy construction efforts in mid-October with work expected to be completed by the end of the year. $50 million of the project's costs were approved by Duke City voters last year with another $30 million covered by the state. The remainder is supplied by Bernalillo County and the federal government.

A successful second test of Virgin Galactic’s passenger-carrying reusable space vehicle puts New Mexico’s Spaceport America yet another step closer to offering space tourism flights in 2014.  The test was conducted Thursday out of the Mojave Air & Spaceport in California. In addition to achieving the highest altitude and greatest speed to date, the flight also saw a flawless deployment of the craft’s unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism. Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson says the company is well on track to start its commercial services next year.

The Santa Fe County Community Services Department has announced a $95,000 award to the La Familia Medical Center to provide treatment to opiate-addicted individuals.  The monies will assist some 70 Santa Fe County residents, 30 of whom are pregnant. The funds come atop a $25,000 allocation made earlier this year to La Familia for assistance to expectant mothers coping with addiction. The county notes the services are much needed as in 2011, New Mexico’s age-adjusted drug overdose death rate was 26 per 100,000 persons; nearly twice the national rate.  

The Kiwanis Club -sponsored Burning of Zozobra Thursday night in Santa Fe was estimated by city officials to have been attended by 25,000 or more people. The presentation was smoother and faster than last year's show which had generated much criticism. Ticket prices for the 89th annual event were cut in half to encourage greater attendance. Proceedings concluded   at 9:30 with a 50 foot Old Man Gloom once again laying in ashes at Fort Marcy Park.

Though Santa Fe has been observing Fiestas all this week, the essence of the celebration began in earnest this morning with the 6AM Pregón de la Fiesta at Rosario Chapel. A number of Fiesta-related events will take place now throughout the weekend at the Plaza and other downtown locations. This is the 301st such commemoration of General  Don Diego De Vargas’ peaceful reoccupation of the City in 1692, first celebrated in September of 1712.

Weather for Santa Fe – Sunny and dry today with a high of 85. Both Saturday & Sunday will be mostly sunny with just a 10% chance for late day showers, highs again in the mid 80s. Overnight lows throughout the period in the mid-to-upper 50s.