Louisiana: Flood board nominating panel eyes Jindal bills

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.

Thursday's agenda for the panel's meeting in New Orleans includes a discussion of pending legislation for the session that starts next week.

NY bill adds penalties for polluting criminals

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York state Senate has approved legislation designed to hold criminals responsible for the environmental damage occurring during their crimes.

Sponsors say current criminal mischief statutes don't adequately address environmental devastation, so the bill would make crimes that result in large-scale environmental damage a class C felony.

Landowners file lawsuit over Missouri River floods

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A group of farmers and business owners sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday, saying the agency's decisions since 2006 have contributed to major flooding in five states.

The federal lawsuit said landowners should be compensated for the extensive damage they experienced — particularly during the extended 2011 flooding that devastated hundreds of thousands of acres of mostly farmland in South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

The lawsuit filed by more than 200 landowners said the Corps has deemphasized flood control while deciding how to manage Missouri River reservoirs as part of an effort to restore habitat for endangered species, and it claimed that has contributed to more flooding.

Emergency downgraded at Wanapum Dam

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The crack in a spillway pier at the Wanapum Dam has been downgraded to a "non-failure emergency," meaning the pier is no longer considered at risk of collapsing, the Grant County Public Utility District said Wednesday.

The downgrade is the result of engineering surveys conducted Monday and Tuesday that show the fractured area found on one of the dam's spillways was continuing to stabilize, the PUD said in a press release.

"This is still a serious issue," Chuck Allen, a public affairs officer for the PUD, said Wednesday.

More extreme weather: Britain battling flooding this winter

The New York Times

Weeks of heavy rain have flooded parts of Britain this winter, as a study in the journal Nature Climate Change warns that such extreme weather is likely to become more common, The New York Times reports.

China premier promises to advance economy reforms, address stifling smog

BEIJING (AP) — China's government pledged Wednesday to promote sustainable growth by opening state-dominated industries to private investment and making banks more market-oriented while keeping this year's economic expansion at a relatively robust 7.5 percent.

In his first annual policy speech as China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing will promote consumer spending, ease exchange rate controls and improve access to credit for productive businesses.

He also vowed to address long-festering complaints about choking smog. 

Texas lake welcomes back paddlefish gone for years

UNCERTAIN, Texas (AP) — Deep beneath the surface of Texas' only naturally formed lake there used to swim a massive, open-mouthed dinosaur-era fish with a long snout and prized caviar. Now, decades after the paddlefish was almost completely wiped out, it's coming back to Caddo Lake.

This time, the fish will be closely tracked by scientists, researchers and students in 20 schools as part of a broad collaboration between private, state and federal agencies attempting to revitalize a long-damaged ecosystem by changing the water releases from a nearby dam. Scientists believe if the paddlefish survive it will be a sign the ecosystem is recovering.

Feds set aside habitat in Southwest for jaguar

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal wildlife officials Tuesday set aside nearly 1,200 square miles along the U.S.-Mexico border as habitat essential for the conservation of the jaguar, a species that hasn't been spotted in New Mexico in eight years and one that has made only fleeting appearances on wildlife cameras in Arizona's Santa Rita Mountains.

Jaguars have been on the federal endangered species list for nearly two decades, but it took a series of lawsuits filed by environmentalists to prompt the critical habitat designation.

NY judge rules for Chevron in Ecuador case

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked U.S. courts from being used to collect a $9 billion Ecuadorean judgment against Chevron for rainforest damage, saying lawyers poisoned an honorable quest with their illegal and wrongful conduct.

"Justice is not served by inflicting injustice. The ends do not justify the means," U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote. The judge said it was a sad outcome to have to rule that the Ecuadorean court judgment "was obtained by corrupt means," because it will likely never be known whether there was a case to be made against the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil company.

Winter storm to slam Washington, the mid-Atlantic


The mid-Atlantic region is expected to get hit the hardest from a winter storm slamming the U.S. today, prompting a shutdown of federal government offices in Washington, Bloomberg reports. 


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