More on the Chino Layoffs

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So, looks like the job-cuts aren’t limited to SW New Mexico: Freeport McMoRan is cutting 20% of its U.S. workforce as it moves to reduce production across the board. The Daily Press also has a bit more on the local cuts this afternoon. In addition, looks like the AP expanded its coverage as well, with a really solid article:

Silver City is a prime example of how the global economic troubles — such as China’s cut in steel production or the domestic auto and housing woes — have hurt small towns across America.

“Copper truly gives a picture of the economy,” Silver City Mayor James Marshall said. “When the price of copper is up, the economy is healthy. When the economy drops, copper follows.”

If there’s any more evidence that the U.S. needs a federally-backed stimulus plan, one centered around infrastructure, I don’t know where you’ll find it. James is right – when you’re building cars and homes and routing cable to new subdivisions or creating SUPERTRAINS, you’re using copper. When the average price drops (according to the Daily Press) by $2 a pound, those things aren’t happening.

In addition, you can imagine copper will figure into a stimulus package that creates green jobs. Sure is reassuring to know we have a president-elect who is committed to that sort of goal.

Regardless, it’s probably going to be rough in Grant County for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, New Mexico’s current (and incoming) congressional delegation is already on the case, seeking federal assistance for affected workers: ((Hat tip to Peter St. Cyr (via Twitter) for the link))

The news has prompted Senator Jeff Bingaman, Senator-elect Tom Udall and Representative-elect Harry Teague, all New Mexico Democrats, to send a letter today to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

They are asking that the U.S. Department of Labor act quickly to determine whether the workers will be eligible for federal assistance.

On a personal note, it appears as though several members of my family are going to be impacted by this decision. It really hits home, as they say, to realize what the past 8 years have meant for my loved ones.



A Thousand Splendid SunsBorrowing a page from John’s playbook, here’s a bit of what’s going on with me right now ((I do not get any money from these if you click them. It’s just something I’m doing for fun)):

Reading: I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns last night. Like Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini’s first novel, Suns is set in Afghanistan, and the author again does an incredible job of inserting the reader into the culture and setting. Indeed, I feel the descriptions of the countryside, villages and cities is rivaled only in his characterization.

Hosseini, time and again, brings his characters to life.

It took me about two days to finish, mostly, I think, because it’s so engaging.

I don’t want to say much more — my mother insisted on giving me the book with no recommendations, saying that she knew I would want to read it because it was the follow up to Kite Runner.

American Doll PosseListening: I’m jamming out to American Doll Posse, an album I picked up when it was released, but haven’t really given much time to. Like Hosseini, Tori Amos is one of those artist/writer/musician types that I’m pretty loyal too — I’ll keep buying her records, because I know there’s always something new and something good waiting for me.

What with all the other good music that’s been coming out lately, I’ve felt bad for Tori, and decided to dust her off in the iTunes library.

Doll Posse is another great Tori album. My favorite Amos album is Scarlet’s Walk, and this one reminds me of that more than The Beekeeper. There’s a great mix of songs here, from the quick “Big Wheel” to the mellow “Girl Disappearing.” Highly recommended.

Speaking of other music, here’s two other CDs I’ve been listening to recently:

Carnavas — Silversun PickupsCarnavas by Silversun Pickups
This is one of my sister’s recommendations, and I’m digging it. Silversun Pickups originated in Los Angleas, and Carnavas is the indie group’s first full-length album.

The rockers get off to a great start with “Melatonin,” and Nikki Monninger’s vocals heat up “Well Thought Out Twinkles,” the second track. The band then puts things on the back burner before really finishing strong.

“Lazy Eye” is the popular track right now, but I’m a fan of “Little Lover’s So Polite” and “Dream at Tempo 119,” some fast moving tracks with great riffs.

Wincing the Night Away — The ShinsWincing the Night Away by The Shins
I liked The Shins without knowing who it was when I heard the Garden State Soundtrack, and their latest has been in my truck’s CD player for the last three weeks. The opening track, “Sleeping Lessons,” had me at hello.

The rest of the album is great as well. “Phantom Limb” is an incredibly fun song, “Black Wave” is haunting, and the way “Girl Sailor” and “A Comet Appears” fade out is incredible.

I might even have to buy some of their earlier stuff too.

Linking: to the National Wildlife Federation’s blog, which has been tracking debate and developments in the Senate Energy Bill:

Two contrasting liquid coal technology amendments will likely be voted on early today. The Bingaman-Testor amendment would subsidize production of liquid coal; liquid coal plants would have to capture and store 75% of the coal’s global warming pollution; and over its “life cycle” (ie. from ground to exhaust pipe), liquid coal would have to pollute 20 percent less than other fuels. The Domenici-Bunning amendment would require at least 6 billion gallons of liquid coal to be produced by 2022, and would have a “life cycle” requirement of 20 percent less carbon pollution than gasoline (a higher initial benchmark). he coal industry supports the Domenici-Bunning amendment. The environmental community is a bit split on the first. NWF supports the Bingaman-Testor amendment as a compromise, but liquid coal is still a carbon intense fuel and will not put us on the path needed to stop global warming.

New Mexico’s representatives on Bush’s SotU

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Heath Haussamen was up early this morning:

Most of New Mexico’s leaders in Washington were critical of at least some of the proposals President Bush made Tuesday in his State of the Union address.

Oh really?

On energy independence and climate change, Bush called for reducing the nation’s gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next 10 years by increasing the use of alternative energy – in particular ethanol – and pushing tougher fuel efficiency standards. He acknowledged for the first time the need to confront “the serious challenge of global climate change.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. and chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he was encouraged that the president has set a goal of reducing the nation’s gasoline usage by 20 percent in the next 10 years.

“That is an initiative all Americans can get behind,” Bingaman said. “But I am very disappointed that the president did not say much about addressing global warming in a comprehensive way. There is a great desire across the country – including from leading American companies – for presidential leadership on this important issue. By essentially ducking the issue of taking a mandatory, economy-wide approach to the problem, the president has missed a real opportunity.”

There’s a lot more over at Heath’s place, so be sure to read the whole thing.

Bingaman to give climate bill another shot

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In addition to the House of Representatives, it looks like Jeff Bingaman — our boy from Silver City — is getting in on the climate change action as well. From The Hill:

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is floating climate-change legislation on Capitol Hill that he plans to introduce soon. A draft version of the bill has been circulated to several Senate offices and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release an analysis of the proposal Thursday, according to Bill Wicker, press secretary for the majority on the Senate Energy Committee. The senator will hold a hearing later this month.

The legislation would institute a cap and trade program for greenhouse gases beginning in 2012. To limit costs, a “safety valve” would kick in, should the price of a pollution permit rise above $7 a ton.

According to the report, Bingaman introduced similar legislation last year as well. Hopefully it will have a better shot this time around.

UPDATE — Friday, 11:30: In comments, John Fleck comes through with this Kevin Vranes commentary of the bill, and what it will mean for carbon emissions:

The results came to me in a Dem-side press release from Senate Energy with the title, “EIA Analysis of Mandatory Climate Legislation Shows: Detailed Plan Won’t Harm U.S. Economy” and that seems to be true, but at the same time, reductions in CO2 are minor. In fact, over the 20-year life of the proposal what we see is a cut in emissions growth, from 44% to 21%. Again, we’re still talking about a (very significant) growth in U.S. emissions.

Vranes said it would be easy to argue whether its enough as a first step, but I have no problem saying any step in the right direction is a good thing. Still, check out the commentary and decide for yourself.

Nuclear weapon production in New Mexico?

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Blogging at Washington Monthly, Zachary Roth writes:

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that plans for a new nuclear weapons program will continue, despite the finding that existing stockpiles will remain reliable for almost the next century.

One of the reasons that the program–known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead program–looks set to move ahead, even though it doesn’t actually appear to be, you know, necessary, is that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M) chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees our weapons labs. Two of those labs–including the largest, Los Alamos–happen to be in New Mexico, so every new program going to those labs means federal dollars for Domenici’s state. Unsurprisingly, Domenici has already applauded the decision to go ahead with the RRW program.

But as I reported in the March 2006 issue of The Washington Monthly, the problem goes deeper. Since we stopped building new weapons in the early 1990s, the weapons labs, run by the Department of Energy, have had little to do. Thanks to the efforts of pork-obsessed members of Congress like Domenici, they’ve continued to receive billions of federal dollars, often for projects that have nothing to do with nuclear weapons. And for much the same reason, we continue to operate eight costly sites, even though some of them literally do little more than move radioactive nuclear material from one spot to another.

Now that Domenici will no longer be calling the shots on the committee, there may be an opportunity to rationalize our weapons complex, by consolidating the various sites into one or two locations, and cutting some of the extraneous programs that serve as little more than federal jobs projects for red states. And here’s an idea: If the new Congress wanted to think really big, it could have DOE use the money and resources it saved to spearhead our efforts on energy independence.

In the comments section, somebody asked what Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico’s other senator and the incoming chairman of the Energy Committee, thinks. So, I called up his D.C. office. Here’s the statement they sent:

“I hope the Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on the findings of this report early next year so that we can determine whether we need the new Reliable Replacement Warhead,” U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman said.

“Regardless of the outcome, I believe LANL is not the best choice for a permanent pit production facility.” Bingaman said.

It looks as though Bingaman is looking for a defense/appropriations standpoint on the issue, which is putting the feasibility and necessity of the project under a microscope. Nonetheless, as the Albuquerque Journal’s John Fleck writes, “You know your nuclear weapons project is in trouble when the senator from the state where the warheads are gonna be built questions whether it’s a good idea.”