Murkowski pressures Jewell to reconsider King Cove road decision

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.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources photo

Jewell seeks to defuse Murkowski anger over Alaska road rebuke

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.

EnergyGuardian Photo

EPA, Corps of Engineers propose new Clean Water Act streams rule

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.

Wash. officials: statewide drought unlikely

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.

Obama to preserve California federal lands

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.

House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on lands bills

Washington, February 26, 2014, 10:00 am

House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee holds hearing on pending lands bills.

Farmers: Obama's drought relief efforts lacking

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.

Great Lakes become nearly covered with ice

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.

California governor: Drought requires compromise

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.

Life's a beach at the Winter Olympics

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."


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