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EPA's legal challengers decry 'power grab' at Senate hearing

States bringing legal challenges against the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed carbon regulations for existing power plants took their case to a Senate hearing Tuesday, where they called the rule an “unlawful power grab” and a "gun to the head" that would devastate coal-reliant states.

The hearing before a subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee featured testimony from West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose states have already challenged the proposed rule in federal court.

Energy rich US states move to quash local limits on drilling

MANSFIELD, Texas (AP) — Lawmakers in Texas and energy producing states across the nation are rushing to stop local communities from imposing limits on oil and gas drilling despite growing public concern about the health and environmental toll of such activities in urban areas.

The slump in oil prices that has led to job losses in the oil patch has only added to the urgency of squelching local drilling bans and other restrictions the industry views as onerous. The number of jobs nationwide in the sector that includes energy production has fallen 3.5 percent since December, and Texas alone lost about 25,000 jobs in March, according to federal data.

Oil

US stocks sink as oil price jumps above $60

NEW YORK (AP) — A combination of concerns knocked the U.S. stock market lower Tuesday, snapping a two-day run.

Crude oil climbed above $60 a barrel for the first time this year, raising expectations for rising inflation and interest rates.

California fell far short of water-saving target: Regulators

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Californians conserved little water in March and local officials were not aggressive in cracking down on waste, state regulators reported Tuesday as they considered tough measures to force savings amid a continuing drought.

The State Water Resources Control Board received the update as it considers sweeping mandatory emergency regulations to protect water supplies in the parched state.

Forest Service chief expects busy firefighting season

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the U.S. Forest Service says the cost of fighting wildfires this season could be well over $1 billion and that the agency may have to borrow money from the very programs designed to prevent big fires in the first place.

Tom Tidwell's testimony before a Senate committee came as California and several other Western states are battling drought.

Environmentalists sue over theme park's solar farm plans

JACKSON, N.J. (AP) — Environmental groups have filed suit over a New Jersey theme park's plans to cut nearly 19,000 trees to build a 90-acre solar farm.

The groups claim Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson is violating the state's municipal land use law. They say the plan would be harmful to the Barnegat Bay watershed.

US trade deficit jumps to 6-year high of $51.4 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit in March swelled to the highest level in more than six years, propelled by a flood of imports that may have sapped the U.S. economy of any growth in the first quarter.

The deficit rose to $51.4 billion, the largest trade gap since October 2008 and more than 43 percent higher than in February, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Exports were up 0.9 percent to $187.8 billion, while imports increased 7.7 percent to $239.2 billion. The trade deficit is the short-fall between exports and imports.

Where They Stand: Mike Huckabee on issues of 2016 campaign

ATLANTA (AP) — Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is opening his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. A look at where he stands on some issues:

Rangers: Hands-off approach to yearly rush across Wyoming river

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — National park rangers and other federal law enforcement officers kept watch without intervening as dozens of antler hunters in western Wyoming gathered for what turned out, for some, to be an ill-fated rush to cross an ice-cold raging mountain river at night.

Hands-off as it was, it was standard policy on Western federal lands whenever foolishness committed by the public falls short of, say, harassing a 3,000-pound bison.

China, EU working on common approach on climate change

BEIJING (AP) — The European Union's foreign policy chief said Tuesday she's confident the EU and China can agree to a common approach on climate change ahead of crucial carbon reduction talks in Paris this year.

Federica Mogherini praised China's targets for gradually reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and said the sides should be able to agree on other goals at an upcoming bilateral summit.

USGS Graphic.

Newsmaker: Geologist says unpredictability, data complicate study of fracking-linked quakes

The U.S. Geological Survey is preparing to map the proximity of man-made earthquakes to wastewater injection wells from oil and gas drilling, and a top researcher says access to seismic and hydraulic fracturing data and the unpredictability of induced quakes will prove the agency’s biggest challenges.

USGS Research Geophysicist Justin Rubinstein, who contributed to a recent report forecasting the risks of earthshaking near regions with heightened seismicity, told EnergyGuardian that the nature of man-made quakes makes them far more difficult to project.

Texas Legislature acts to stop cities from limiting drilling

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas moved Monday to ban its own cities from imposing prohibitions on hydraulic fracturing and other potentially environmentally harmful oil and natural gas drilling activities within their boundaries — a major victory for industry groups and top conservatives who have decried rampant local "overregulation."

Lawmakers in America's largest oil-producing state scrambled to limit local energy exploration prohibitions after Denton, a university town near Dallas, passed an ordinance in November against hydraulic fracturing or fracking, attempting to keep encroaching drilling bonanzas outside their community.

Study: Trace amount of drilling fluid found in water well

Toxic fluids used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing likely escaped an unlined borehole and migrated thousands of feet into a residential drinking-water supply in Pennsylvania, according to a study published Monday.

At least three water wells in Bradford County, located in the heart of the Marcellus Shale drilling boom, were found to be contaminated with dangerous levels of methane and other substances in 2010. The incident was one of several involving Chesapeake Energy that prompted state environmental regulators to levy a record $1 million fine against the driller in May 2011.

Cleanup of Superfund town would leave some asbestos behind

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A long-delayed cleanup proposal for a Montana community where thousands have been sickened by asbestos exposure would leave the dangerous material inside some houses rather than remove it, as government officials seek to wind down an effort that has lasted more than 15 years and cost $540 million.

Details on the final cleanup plan for Libby, Montana, and the neighboring town of Troy were to be released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Oil

5th Circuit: 3 Mexican states cannot sue BP over 2010 spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit against BP and other companies by three Mexican states over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a 2013 district court ruling.

SolarWorld courtesy Paul G. Wiegman

Triple investment in clean energy or global warming goal will be busted: IEA

The world's nations need to triple their investment in clean energy if they are to meet the United Nations goal for controlling global warming, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.

EIA's Energy Technology Perspectives report, released Monday, said that to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - a danger point projected to be hit by 2050 - worldwide government investment in clean energy needs to jump from the current $17 billion to $51 billion per year.

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