Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Wednesday defended her review that could potentially restrict or ban surface mining near Alaska's sensitive Bristol Bay, despite complaints that it has put a cloud over the proposed Pebble Mine.
McCarthy's decision to consider a ban on mining in the area came under strong questioning from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, at a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing on EPA's budget. Murkowski argued that EPA was moving ahead with the review before any formal permit application by Pebble developers.
VIENNA (AP) — Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday his country and six world powers are in "50 to 60 percent agreement" on the shape of a nuclear deal meant to crimp any potential Iranian attempt to build nuclear arms in exchange for an end to crippling economic sanctions.
Speaking for the six, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was less upbeat as the talks reached the half-way mark toward their informal July deadline. But she said that after several rounds of exploratory talks the two sides were now ready to bridge remaining gaps standing in the way of agreement.
The talks paused until May 13 amid stern warnings from Iran's supreme leader, whose message has varied over the past months between support for the discussions and accusations of bad-faith negotiating on the part of the United States and its allies.
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin turned up the heat on Ukraine on Wednesday by threatening to demand advance payment for gas supplies, a move designed to exert economic pressure as Ukraine confronts possible bankruptcy, a mutiny by pro-Russian separatists in the east and a Russian military buildup across the border.
NATO's top commander in Europe warned that the alliance could respond to the Russian military threat against Ukraine by deploying U.S. troops to Eastern Europe, but Putin's latest tactics suggest he may be aiming to secure Russia's clout with its neighbor without invading.
Neil Kornze, who has worked in the office of Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the past, has won Senate confirmation of his appointment as director of the Bureau of Land Management, The Washington Post reports.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's Security Service said Wednesday that 56 people held inside the agency's local headquarters in the eastern city of Luhansk by pro-Russian separatists have been allowed to leave.
The Luhansk security services building was among several government offices seized by pro-Moscow groups Sunday in an escalation of protests against the interim government in power since the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden has discussed the crisis in Ukraine with the leaders of Montenegro and Slovakia.
Biden met at the White House on Tuesday with Montenegro's prime minister, Milo Djukanovic. The White House said Biden and Djukanovic discussed the situation in the Balkans as well as Russia's pressure on Ukraine.
Biden praised Montenegro for making progress toward joining NATO and said the U.S. supports Montenegro's aspirations to form closer ties with Europe.
PHOENIX (AP) — Just a day after adopting a $9.23 billion state budget, the Arizona House and Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a pair of tax cuts for manufacturers, including one that would give a multi-million-dollar tax credit to the world's biggest corporation to install and run a solar facility.
The Legislature approved Senate Bill 1413, pushed by Gov. Jan Brewer, eliminating sales taxes on electricity purchased by manufacturers and mining smelters. It is expected to cost the state general fund $17 million a year. Brewer called for the elimination of the tax in her State of the State address in January, saying it was needed to make Arizona more competitive and draw new manufacturing to the state.
Our preview Tuesday morning of this week's grid security hearing incorrectly reported that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Acting Chairman Cheryl LeFleur had written to lawmakers that during briefings on grid security, FERC shared with utilities and industry groups grid modeling information that identified sites critical to reliability.
The letter did not refer to sharing the information, and the modeling was not shared with industry in the briefings.
The corrected version of the story can be seen here.
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno on Tuesday said the Interior Department is getting ready to unveil its new offshore Arctic oil and gas drilling safety rule.
In a blog post, Salerno said BSEE has been working with the Interior Department's offshore leasing arm, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, to develop the new Arctic Drilling Rule. The department had hoped to make the proposal public by the end of 2013, but pushed back its release in part because of the government shutdown last October.
No new rules on chemical safety and storage have been put into place a year after an ammonium nitrate explosion killed 15 people and damaged hundreds of homes in West, Texas, The Wall Street Journal reports, which notes the disaster has spawned disagreements instead.
With rhetoric growing more heated ahead of Ukraine talks set for Thursday, oil prices were back on the rise. WTI increased 88 cents Wednesday in electronic trading on the Nymex to $104.63 a barrel, while in London Brent crude hit $110 a barrel midmorning local time, Reuters reports.
The Texas Petro Index, monitoring the oil and gas industry in the state, hit a level in February not seen since 1980, according to the statistic’s creator, who said crude production for the month came to some 77.2 million barrels, FuelFix reports.
The Senate Majority PAC, providing money for vulnerable Democrats, picked up $11 million in the 1st quarter but other super PACs have been doing well with fund raising also, The Washington Post reports.
Railroads, used to operating under exclusively federal jurisdiction, are coming under increasing pressure to provide more information as they carry crude oil, and will face new rules forcing them to do so this summer, The New York Times reports.
Frigid weather this past winter that resulted in gas price spikes points to the need to improve the ways natural gas gets to market, but more pipeline capacity may not necessarily steady costs, panel members said at a gas forum in Atlanta, Platts reports.
Recent finds of mildly radioactive oil filter socks have triggered concern and illustrates how authorities in North Dakota are having trouble handling some aspects of the shale drilling boom, The Wall Street Journal reports.
As part of a two-year plan to dispose of some of its assets, BP is looking for buyers to take on rights for some 280,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle, in an area rich in natural gas that the company says would be better suited to an operator used to getting the most out of mature territory, FuelFix reports.