GOP drought relief bill earns White House veto threat

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a House Republican effort to respond to a long-running drought in California and other western states by loosening environmental restrictions, saying the legislation would “impede an effective and timely response to the continuing drought.”

The Office of Management and Budget, in a Statement of Administration Policy, said the Western Water and American Food Security Act, introduced by Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., would conflict with existing laws and hinder state and federal cooperation on drought relief and undercut environmental law.

DiCaprio foundation grants $15M to environmental groups

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When it comes to saving the planet, Leonardo DiCaprio is putting his money where his mouth is.

The actor's foundation announced Tuesday it has awarded $15 million in grants to a host of environmental organizations, including Amazon Watch, Save the Elephants, Tree People and the World Wildlife Fund.

White House

'Legacy' or 'land grab'? Obama names new monuments

President Barack Obama, who had already used executive authority to protect more land than any other president, added more than a million acres across three states Friday. Supporters hailed him for “burnishing his conservation legacy” while one critic raised the specter of a federal invasion to "seize more lands like bandits in the night.”

Using his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act, Obama designated as national monuments the Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, the Basin and Range in Nevada, and the Waco Mammoth paleontological site in Texas. The California site covers nearly 331,000 acres, and the Nevada site covers approximately 704,000 acres, the White House said.

Pope applauds ecology advocates in Rome from many religions

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday encouraged people of different religions to work together in caring for the Earth, which he called our "common house."

Speaking from his window in a Vatican palazzo to tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists, Francis singled out a few hundred people who had marched to St. Peter's Square under the banner "One Earth, one family."

Amid drought, California cities crack down on water line leaks

The New York Times

As continued drought conditions drive water restriction orders for Californians, cities are looking to crack down on underground leaks from water line infrastructure, an issue that one consultancy says costs  systems an average 10 percent of the water they carry, The New York Times reports.

Western wildfires: California fire grows, forces evacuations

Wildfires are charging through several dry Western states, including a blaze in California that showed new life after burning for a week and forced residents of some communities to flee their homes. A look at the latest hotspots and what crews are doing to control them:

Study: Aquifers draining faster than they are replenishing

The New York Times

Nearly a third of the world's 37 largest aquifers are losing water faster than they can be replenished, a new study from the University of California, Irvine says, and the overstressed water supplies are situated in regions that support 2 billion people, The New York Times reports.

Conservationists: New China policy could save elephants

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Conservationists hail it as a possible game-changer in the struggle to curb the slaughter of elephants: an unexpected pledge by a senior Chinese official to stop the ivory trade in a country whose vast, increasingly affluent consumer market drives elephant poaching across Africa.

Now they are waiting in suspense for China to outline how and when it would ban an industry that criminal syndicates use as cover for their illicit business in tusks.

Interior Department

House chairmen pressure Obama to name a permanent Interior IG

The Interior Department’s independent watchdog is boasting about its latest achievements in saving taxpayers money and fighting fraud even as key House leaders demand that President Obama fill the office's top job with a permanent nominee after a six-year vacancy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chairman Ken Calvert, R-Calif., sent a letter Monday to the president urging him to nominate a permanent inspector general at Interior.

Mindset, info sharing among challenges for forest projects, GAO says

As the Forest Service and Interior Department proceed with large-scale forest restoration projects, they need to better adapt their mindset and information sharing to address the growing threat of wildfires, a government audit found.

In a report prepared for Congress, the Government Accountability Office said the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service have taken action on a combined 34 landscape-scale (50,000 acres or larger) restoration projects since 2004 to mitigate and prevent forest fires.


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