MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont officials posted online a hefty plan Tuesday to reduce pollution in Lake Champlain from stormwater runoff, and now await word on whether it goes far enough in addressing federal concerns.
Decades of runoff have contributed to dirtying Vermont's signature lake and causing excessive algae growth. The pollution has turned the water murky, hurt tourism, depressed property values and increased water treatment costs.
Cleaning up the lake has been a longstanding state goal, but lawmakers and officials say the state is under more pressure now to meet federal targets. If the latest plan doesn't measure up, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could impose expensive regulations on sewage plants in the state.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Wednesday delivered an angry broadside at Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for her rejection of an emergency access road through a national wildlife refuge to the King Cove community in her state, intensifying the friction between the two.
"I will not get over this issue," said Murkowski, a Republican, to Jewell during a 15-minute statement on the King Cove stalemate at a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing on the department's budget.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell met Tuesday with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in a bid to smooth strained relations before an expected public showdown on Wednesday between the two.
Aides to Jewell and Murkowski confirmed the meeting. It was their first since Jewell in December rejected an emergency access road through a portion of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge sought by the remote Aleutian Islands fishing village of King Cove, a move that angered Murkowski.
The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday proposed a rule to narrow the reach of federal regulation of intermittent streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.
The move comes after years of court rulings that have led to concerns that EPA and corps will stop or slow development of lands through a broad interpretation of the law.
EPA and the corps said in the proposed rule that they want to reduce total permit reviews and give more certainty to landowners. It would eliminate from potential coverage seasonal or intermittent waters that the federal government has not regulated under the law or are exempted, including farmlands and waste treatment systems.
It would leave for case-by-case determinations so-called "other waters" for potential protection under the law, beyond navigable waterways, wetlands and tributaries that the law explicitly sets out for regulation.
SEATTLE (AP) — So much rain and snow has fallen across Washington state in recent weeks that experts say there's little chance of a statewide drought being declared this year.
Department of Ecology spokesman Dan Partridge says the worries are over for now. He says snowpack and streamflow measurements as well as other indicators have alleviated concerns about a possible statewide drought.
The agency convened a group of federal and state officials in February after a dry winter start raised concerns about a possible statewide drought.
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.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton leveled fresh criticism of President Obama’s energy policies after a report from the Congressional Research Service found that oil and gas production declined on federal leases, The Hill reports.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude gained 1 cent to settle at $103.76 a barrel on the Nymex after the Energy Information Administration reported a hike in U.S. inventories last week, while in London Brent rose 24 cents to close at $109.60 a barrel, the highest level in six weeks, according to Bloomberg.
Former President Jimmy Carter signed a letter with other Nobel laureates declaring the proposed pipeline would contribute to global “climate upheaval,” and should be rejected by the Obama administration, Bloomberg reports.
Keystone XL opponents Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., submitted comments to the State Department urging Secretary John Kerry to face up to “the reality of climate change” and reject the proposed project.
Clean energy investment is on the rise again after two years of declines, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which estimates new money coming into the sector increased by more than $4 billion, or 9 percent, in the first quarter, led by demand for rooftop solar panels.
Bonds may be the best way to raise money for clean energy projects, says a report from the Brookings Institution, although the think tank notes that few developers have used bonds because of difficulties in accessing the markets, E&E reports.
On expectations that the California Public Utilities Commission will adopt its proposed decision barring utilities from charging fees to connect solar systems that use battery storage, SolarCity anticipates returning to file applications to connect the systems in the state, Bloomberg reports.
Only about 200 of Ford's F-150 pickups that can run on compressed natural gas have been sold, FuelFix reports, noting that company officials predict interest will grow once the vehicle gets more established in the market.
California’s extreme drought conditions finally may get residents and communities past the psychological hump that’s been turning them away from recycling wastewater to get drinking water, National Journal reports.
If the U.S. energy boom is to be sustainable, new technology will have to be brought into play to get more out of fracking wells, former Energy Department assistant secretary Charles McConnell told a Houston symposium, FuelFix reports.