A third of California is now suffering from the worst drought conditions, according to the National Weather Service, which says the situation has gotten worse over the last week, the Los Angeles Times reports.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — An environmental group that works to expand the federal government's lineup of protected plants and animals filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of a Midwestern wetland snake.
The Center for Biological Diversity wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to add the Kirtland's snake to the endangered and threatened species list. The agency missed a deadline four years ago for making a decision on the reptile, said Collette Adkins Giese, an attorney and biologist with the nonprofit organization.
"This is an extremely imperiled animal," Giese said. "We're running out of time to save it."
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to force the federal government into more aggressive steps to preserve the lesser prairie chicken, but Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback decried the litigation as an attempt to shut down agriculture and energy production in his state.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington by Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians. They argue that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision in March to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species isn't adequate to restore its declining population and the bird should be listed as endangered.
The groups contend listing the bird as threatened still allows hundreds to be killed each year. The five states affected by the listing — Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — had fewer than 18,000 lesser prairie chickens in 2013, down almost 50 percent from 2012.
The Senate has given final approval and sent to President Obama a measure requiring a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the impact of algae and hypoxia on specific bodies of water, The Hill reports.
With Lake Mead predicted to fall to its lowest levels since the reservoir was first filled in 1938, the Central Arizona Project warns that Phoenix and Tucson have a sizeable chance of seeing cuts to their water supply in the next decade unless users from the Colorado River system reduce their consumption, The New York Times reports.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Conservation groups and salmon advocates have challenged the Obama administration's latest plan for making Columbia Basin dams safe for salmon.
The challenge was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service, which oversees salmon protection, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operate the dams. It was the seventh challenge since the lawsuit was originally filed in 2001.
Joseph Bogaard of Save Our Wild Salmon said the plan is "virtually indistinguishable" from the one overturned by a federal court three years ago.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama announced plans Tuesday to create the largest ocean preserve in the world by banning drilling, fishing and other activities in a massive stretch of the Pacific Ocean in a move to protect fragile marine life.
Using presidential authority that doesn't require new action from Congress, Obama proposed to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, which President George W. Bush designated to protect unique species and rare geological formations. The waters are all considered U.S. territory because they surround an array of remote, mostly uninhabited islands that the U.S. controls between Hawaii and American Samoa.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is poised to accelerate after a dismal start to the year even though the job market won't return to full employment until 2017.
That was the forecast offered Monday in a report by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF noted that steady job gains and other recent data suggest that the economy is rebounding. Employers have added 200,000-plus jobs for four straight months, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.3 percent. Auto sales and factory activity are increasing.
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government is stepping up its crackdown on the illegal trafficking of wild animal products across the nation's borders, saying some may be linked to terrorists, federal officials said Monday.
"Poaching in Africa is funding terrorist groups," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told a news conference at Kennedy International Airport.
He said such illegal trade is a threat to global security because it's driven by criminal elements, including terrorists using profits from items such as rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks to finance their activities.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Eleven states in the eastern U.S. will share $102.7 million in grants from the federal government to protect against future storms, with the greatest amount of funded projects in New Jersey and New York.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Grant Program will fund a variety of projects to protect communities at risk from future big storms like the October 2012 event that pummeled the East Coast.
With the Keystone XL pipeline still delayed, Transcanada has filed with the State Department to get approval for the Upland Pipeline, which would bring Bakken crude north to Saskatchewan, The Wall Street Journal reports.
A unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit leaves in place Environmental Protection Agency regulations on heavy truck efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, The Hill reports.
Word that Russia, Norway and possibly Saudi Arabia are ramping up oil production pressured prices Friday. U.S. benchmark crude dropped 1 percent, or 59 cents, to $57.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while in London Brent gained 43 cents to $65.28 a barrel, a new five-month high, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin Power & Light has formally asked state regulators to approve a new gas-fired plant that will cost $750 million, alongside a solar facility intended to generate 2 megawatts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Two Democrats – Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania – have introduced comprehensive mine safety legislation intended to beef up regulatory enforcement and close loopholes in the 1952 Federal Coal Mine Safety Act, WVPN reports.