KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — President Barack Obama will expand the California Coastal National Monument to include the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a White House official said Saturday.
Expected Tuesday, the action will permanently protect some 1,665 acres of federal lands on the Mendocino County coast, just north of Point Arena in northern California. It will expand a national monument created in 2000 by President Bill Clinton to include coastal bluffs and shelves, tide pools, onshore sand dunes, coastal prairies, riverbanks and the mouth and estuary of the Garcia River.
Obama's designation would follow recent action by the Environmental Protection Agency to block development of Pebble Mine, a massive copper and gold deposit in Alaska's treasured Bristol Bay region.
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Farmers in California's drought-stricken Central Valley said Friday that the financial assistance President Barack Obama is delivering on his visit does not get to the heart of California's long-term water problems.
Amid one of the driest years in the state's recorded history, Obama will come to the Fresno area to announce $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, $60 million to support food banks and another $13 million toward things such as conservation and helping rural communities that could soon run out of drinking water.
Sarah Woolf, a partner with Clark Brothers Farming in Fresno County, said anything will help, but the federal government needs to better manage the state's water supplies so farmers have enough during future droughts like the current one.
CHEBOYGAN, Michigan (AP) — It's been so bitterly cold for so long that the Great Lakes are almost completely covered with ice for the first time in 20 years.
The last time they came this close was in 1994, when 94 percent of the lakes' surface was frozen. As of Wednesday, ice cover extended across 87 percent. That's according to the federal government's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.
Sections of the lakes harden almost every winter. But scientists say that over the past four decades, the average ice cover has receded 70 percent, probably in part because of climate change.
TULARE, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown visited California's drought-stricken agricultural heartland on Wednesday and called on Republicans and Democrats in Congress to strike a compromise that will benefit the region and nation.
As part of his busy schedule of stops in the Central Valley, Brown met with farmers at a breakfast and briefly walked the midway of the 47th Annual World Ag Expo in Tulare, a massive farm show where he attracted attention from curious onlookers as he answered questions from reporters.
Brown said bickering among federal lawmakers over drought aid accomplishes nothing.
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Forget the parkas and stocking hats. Sunscreen and shades are the must-have items at the Sochi "Winter" Games.
The temperature soared to 63 degrees (17 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday, prompting Olympic visitors to grab a nap on a bench outside a venue or hit the nearby beach for some impromptu sunbathing and even a dip in the Black Sea.
"I think it should always be like this," said Yuri Valyeyev, a resident of Bryansk, between Sochi and Moscow, who came here to work construction during the Olympics. "We are glad that it is held in Russia. Being a Russian I am very glad because everywhere in Russia is cold and here is warm."
California's ongoing drought has resulted in 487 wildfires so far this year, up from just two in the same period last year, causing concern among state officials that the drought could help fuel a more sustained, intense wildfire season, Bloomberg reports.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House approved a wide-ranging public lands bill Thursday that would speed logging of trees burned in last year's massive Rim Fire in California.
The measure also allows vehicular access to North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore, extends livestock grazing permits on federal land in the West and lifts longstanding restrictions on canoes, rafts and other "hand-propelled" watercraft in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
The House approved the bill, 220-194, on a largely party-line vote. It now goes to the Senate, where it is considered unlikely to pass. The White House opposes the bill but has not issued a veto threat.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Federal officials on Wednesday pledged more money to help California cope with its severe drought as state fishing regulators shut down recreational angling on portions of two water-starved rivers because of concerns about the survival of salmon and steelhead trout.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Natural Resources Conservation Service announced another $14 million for water management improvements in the state, a day after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack committed $20 million.
The aid was announced as the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill supported by House Speaker John Boehner and Central Valley Republicans that would temporarily halt restoration of the San Joaquin River and allow farmers to pump delta water more freely.
U.S. utilities are preparing to make expensive investments to improve nuclear plant safety to meet new post-Fukushima standards, with Exelon expected to spend as much as $500 million across its 17 reactors, The New York Times reports.
Despite increased calls for approving liquefied natural gas exports to Ukraine, a limited interest among energy companies and the current regulatory process means it would take years to make any significant impact on Russia's energy influence, Bloomberg reports.
Beyond urging imports of U.S. liquefied natural to Ukraine, European officials are considering reversing natural gas pipelines and limiting purchases of Russian energy in an effort to limit Russia's influence in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Despite a fall in average gasoline prices from recent years, the American Public Transportation Association said in an annual report that Americans used public transportation at the highest recorded rate since 1956, The New York Times reports.
The Edison Electric Institute is lobbying the Obama administration and state governments to limit new restrictions on coal-fired plants and nuclear generators, citing a need to keep electricity prices low during extremely cold weather, Bloomberg reports.
Renewable energy companies are increasing their interest in wind and wave energy projects off the coast of Oregon, but it's uncertain how much environmentalist resistance and regulatory processes will affect the trend, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Transportation Department and the American Association of Railroads have released a list of urban areas where freight trains carrying crude oil will be required to slow down, but some lawmakers are urging a wider list of areas, National Journal reports.
The public comment period on the State Department's Keystone XL pipeline review ended on Friday, with opponents sending more than 2 million comments opposing the project, doubling the comments in support of the pipeline, The Washington Post reports.