EPA water rules take effect in some states

WASHINGTON (AP) — New federal rules to protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands took effect on Friday — but only in some states.

A federal court ruling Thursday, hours before the rules were to go into effect, blocked the regulations in 13 states. Those states had sued the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, arguing that the rules are federal overreach and could be costly and confusing for landowners.

Oil

Company: Settlement reached in lawsuit over Gulf oil leak

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans energy company said Thursday it has reached a settlement agreement with environmental groups in a lawsuit stemming from the company's failed efforts to stop a decade-old, slow-motion oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A federal court filing Thursday stated that an agreement had been reached between Taylor Energy Company and the environmental groups. Taylor said in a news release it has agreed under the settlement to make a $300,000 donation to a Louisiana marine research consortium and to fund $100,000 in research on the ecological effects of small, long term leaks in the Gulf.

Documents: Workers had no way to issue warning after spill

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Members of a federal cleanup crew were initially trapped and unable to warn downstream communities that they had accidentally unleashed toxic waste water from a Colorado gold mine, according to government documents released Thursday.

During that time, a trickle of water started by excavation work at the site grew to a torrent and 3 million gallons eventually poured out of the remote Gold King Mine near Silverton, fouling downstream rivers in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.

Vote tally in favor of Iran deal climbs to 30 in Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware has become the 30th senator to back the Iran nuclear deal, as momentum for the White House-backed agreement grows.

Carper's announcement Friday puts Senate Democrats closer to two crucial vote totals. Thirty-four votes are needed to uphold a presidential veto of a resolution disapproving of the agreement. Forty-one votes would allow Democrats to block the resolution from passing in the first place next month.

State of emergency declared in Florida; tropical storm nears

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday that Tropical Storm Erika poses a "severe threat to the entire state" and declared a state of emergency.

The storm could hit the peninsula Monday. Scott made his declaration shortly after forecasters adjusted the trajectory of the storm to show that it's predicted to strike the southern tip of the state and then traverse northward.

Californians cut water without state imposing fines

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — For the second straight month, Californians exceeded hefty water conservation mandates during the relentless drought without the state imposing fines, officials said.

Cities cut water use by a combined 31 percent in July, exceeding the governor's statewide conservation mandate of 25 percent, the State Water Resources Control Board reported Thursday.

Freeport-McMoRan cuts more spending; Icahn discloses stake

PHOENIX (AP) — Activist investor Carl Icahn said late Thursday that he has taken an 8.5-percent stake in Freeport-McMoRan, just hours after the mining company announced cost cuts and lower spending in response to declining copper prices and soft economic conditions worldwide.

Shares of the Phoenix company surged 29 percent to $10.19 after it announced the spending reductions, although the stock is still down 72 percent in the past year. On Wednesday it reached its lowest price in 12 years. After Icahn disclosed his stake, the stock gained another 19 percent in extended trading, to $12.15.

Updated Dog Days publishing schedule for EnergyGuardian

We're still in the Dog Days of summer, with Congress out for another week, and as is tradition during the week leading up to Labor Day, EnergyGuardian will publish a single midday edition each day next week. 

There will be no newsletter on Labor Day, Sept. 7.

Of course, we'll cover any breaking news with alerts, including coverage of President Barack Obama's trip to Alaska.

We will resume a normal publishing schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

We hope you have a chance to get away and enjoy some relaxation as summer winds down, and thank you for your support all year long.

South African prototype may solve solar power problem

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — By thinking small, a group of South African scientists may have pioneered solar technology that has stumped Internet giant Google.

The Helio100 project, based at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape province, is a cost-effective heliostat that harnesses solar power to generate electricity.

Scientists on Sholes Glacier
AP Photo/Manuel Valdes

Scientists, tribe study shrinking Washington state glacier

MOUNT BAKER, Wash. (AP) — Mauri Pelto digs his crampons into the steep icy slope on Mount Baker in Washington state and watches as streams of water cascade off the thick mass of bare, bluish ice. Every 20 yards, the water carves vertical channels in the face of the glacier as it rushes downstream.

What little snow from last winter is already gone, so ice is melting off the glacier at a rate of nearly three inches a day this summer, he said.

Deal to develop parkland near dunes riles conservationists

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The parkland surrounding Indiana's towering dunes was intended to keep industry away from a geological marvel molded over thousands of years at the southern tip of Lake Michigan.

Yet five years after a politically connected developer suggested officials should hire a company to rehabilitate a dilapidated beachfront pavilion at the popular tourist destination, the small construction project has ballooned into a decades-long privatization deal with the state. It includes two beachfront restaurants, a rooftop bar, a glass-walled banquet hall promising "the best view in Indiana" — and there is potential for even more development.

Charges sought against ex-head of Brazil nuclear power firm

SAO PAULO (AP) — Police say they have asked prosecutors to file charges against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil's two nuclear power plants, for his alleged role in a bribery scandal.

Brazilian police want prosecutors to charge Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva with money laundering and corruption for taking as much as $10 million in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.

Ukraine asks Russia for lower gas prices for winter season

MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine asked Russia on Friday for lower gas prices for the winter and said Moscow should accept to write off a part of its loans to Kiev, as other international bondholders did this week.

Gas disputes between Russia and Ukraine have led to cut-offs of supply in the past, and one standoff in 2009 caused serious disruptions in gas flowing from Russia via Ukraine to the European Union.

Oil

President: Nigeria to stop dependency on crude oil

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria is moving to rapidly diversify the country's economy to stop its dependency on crude oil exports, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari said Thursday.

Nigeria has depended on oil as its major source of revenue in the last three decades at the expense of agriculture and other sectors, Buhari said. He spoke as he received new ambassadors.

Fuel thieves tap into pipelines in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Thieves drilled taps into fuel pipelines not far from downtown Mexico City in one of the most daring and dangerous of thousands of illegal taps investigators find each year.

Most pipeline thefts have occurred in rural areas, but the Mexico City prosecutor's office said late Wednesday that two sets of illegal taps had been found at warehouses in heavily populated areas just about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the city's center.

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor

Judge blocks EPA's Clean Water Rule

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge in North Dakota on Thursday blocked a new Obama administration rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some state waterways.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota issued a temporary injunction against a the rule, which gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The rule was scheduled to take effect Friday.

"The risk of irreparable harm to the states is both imminent and likely," Erickson said in blocking the rule from taking effect.

Thirteen states led by North Dakota asked Erickson to suspend guidelines that they say are unnecessary and infringe on state sovereignty. The federal government says the new rule clarifies ambiguity in the law and actually makes it easier for the states to manage some waterways. It wasn't immediately clear if the injunction applied to states other than the 13 led by North Dakota.

The other states involved in the lawsuit are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.

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