CBO: Deficit to shrink to lowest level of Obama presidency

WASHINGTON (AP) — Solid economic growth will help the federal budget deficit shrink this year to its lowest level since President Barack Obama took office, according to congressional estimates released Monday.

The Congressional Budget Office also projects a 14 percent drop in the number of U.S. residents without health insurance, largely because of Obama's health law.

Obama leading delegation of US dignitaries to Saudi Arabia

NEW DELHI (AP) — President Barack Obama was leading a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers, senior U.S. officials and two former secretaries of state to Saudi Arabia Tuesday to pay respects to the royal family following King Abdullah's death.

Obama cut short the final day of his visit to India to make the trip, departing New Delhi Tuesday afternoon without making his planned visit to the Taj Mahal. Obama's four-hour stop in Saudi Arabia was to include a meeting with new monarch King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and a dinner with other Saudi officials.

Mexico shuts down planned Chinese trade center near Cancun

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities shut down a huge trade center development near the resort city of Cancun on Monday that was conceived as a showcase for Chinese products and had previously been fined over $1 million for environmental damage.

Mexico's environmental protection agency said in a statement that the Dragon Mart Cancun project was "totally shuttered" over failure to comply with corrective measures ordered last year and the removal of vegetation related to construction. The statement said the agency determined the project was being built in a coastal ecosystem where mangrove stands are present.


Drilling plan may restrict sensitive Arctic Ocean areas

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal Department of the Interior will make additional areas of Arctic Ocean waters off-limits to drilling when it announces a new five-year offshore drilling plan, a member of the Alaska congressional delegation said Monday.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she was briefed last week by federal officials who told her the Obama administration will permanently remove from consideration some areas that had previously been deferred from the federal leasing program.

US loans fueled insider deal, failed power plan in Liberia

BUCHANAN, Liberia (AP) — A failed U.S. government-backed plan to produce environmentally friendly energy in one of Africa's poorest countries was marred by insider connections and questionable planning, an Associated Press investigation found. The federal agency at the center of the deal is one of the government's biggest secrets and routinely escapes public scrutiny.

That agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, approved three loans totaling $217 million to help a company, Buchanan Renewables, convert nonproducing rubber trees into biomass chips that would help power Liberia.


Senate fails to close off Keystone XL debate

A motion to wrap up amendment debate and move toward Senate passage of the Keystone XL pipeline bill failed, 53-39, on Monday.

Just four Democrats voted for the cloture motion to end debate, which required a 60-vote majority for adoption.

The motion was scheduled late Thursday by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., after Democrats sought more time to consider pending amendments, and he called successful votes to table five Democratic amendments.

The vote extends amendment debate into the coming days, with eight amendments currently pending on the Senate floor-- seven by Republicans and one Democratic -- and scores more submitted for potential votes.


Key issues and updates on the Keystone XL oil pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is closing in on a vote to authorize the Keystone XL oil pipeline this week.

But the fate of the $8 billion project depends not only on what happens in Congress, but also in the courts, at the White House and with TransCanada, the pipeline's developer.


Witness praises BP spill cleanup

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — BP struggled for 87 days to contain the millions of gallons of crude that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, but an expert witness on Monday called its cleanup response exemplary.

"They were very prepared," said Frank Paskewich, a retired Coast Guard captain and president of Clean Gulf Associates Inc., an oil spill response cooperative.

Building efficiency competition success for EPA


The Environmental Protection Agency’s list of 5,500 entrants in the National Building Competition last year -– battling each other to see who can save the most energy –- is a far cry from the 14 who took part when EPA started the contest in 2010, E&E reports.

EPA encourages putting clean energy on contaminated sites


Tangent Energy Solutions’ construction of solar panels on the E.I. Dupont Superfund site in Delaware shows how renewable energy can spring from contaminated land, E&E reports.


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