Policy

Obama administration eases part of lobbying rule

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is easing a key part of its rule restricting lobbyists from serving in government.

The move comes after a judge ruled against the administration in a court case filed by several lobbyists.

Decision could boost use of popular weed killer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with tougher and more resistant weeds, corn and soybean farmers are anxiously awaiting government decisions on a new version of a popular herbicide — and on genetically modified seeds to grow crops designed to resist it.

Critics say more study is needed on the effects of the herbicide and they are concerned it could endanger public health.

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to rule this fall on Dow AgroSciences' application to market Enlist, a new version of the 2,4-D herbicide that's been around since the 1940s. It's partly a game of catch-up for the agriculture industry, as many farmers are dealing with weeds that have become resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide commonly used on corn and soybeans now.

DOT rules to push tank car scrappage, worsen shortages

Source: 
The Wall Street Journal

Oil and ethanol will both be affected under new rules proposed by the Department of Transportation to tighten safety standards for tank cars, with many older cars likely to be scrapped at a time when the order backlog for new ones already tops 50,000, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

Groups to EPA: Stop muzzling science advisers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Journalist and scientific organizations accused the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday of attempting to muzzle its independent scientific advisers by directing them to funnel all outside requests for information through agency officials.

In a letter Tuesday, groups representing journalists and scientists urged the EPA to allow advisory board members to talk directly to news reporters, Congress and other outside groups without first asking for permission from EPA officials. An April memo from the EPA's chief of staff said that "unsolicited contacts" need to be "appropriately managed" and that committee members should refrain from directly responding to requests about committees' efforts to advise the agency.

2 Florida butterflies listed as endangered species

VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Two butterflies found only in South Florida have been added to the endangered species list.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday that it was listing the Florida leafwing and Bartram's scrub-hairstreak as endangered. It also is designating thousands of acres of critical habitat for both butterflies.

Both butterflies are found only in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Feds reverse course on wolverines

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials are withdrawing proposed protections for the snow-loving wolverine in a course reversal announced Tuesday that highlights lingering uncertainties over what a warming climate means for some temperature-sensitive species.

Wolverines, or "mountain devils," are rarely seen members of the weasel family that need deep, late-season snow to den.

But while there is broad consensus climate change will make the world warmer, drilling down to determine what that means for individual species remains difficult. That's stoking sharp disagreement over the fate of wolverines, with one researcher calling Tuesday's withdrawal a travesty of science.

Plans for condensate splitters rest on Commerce moves

Source: 
Platts

Commerce Department decisions on allowing more export of condensates will affect companies’ decisions on investing in splitters, Platts reports.

Driver tracking could solve highway funding problem

Source: 
National Journal

Privacy concerns have torpedoed previous efforts to use driver tracking to fund roads, but the technology exists and advocates say charging drivers for the distances they travel could eliminate the problem created by fuel efficient cars generating less revenue from fuel taxes, National Journal reports.

More lead testing around troubled SoCal battery recycling plant

Source: 
Los Angeles Times

As workers this week started moving contaminated soil from houses in the neighborhood around the Exide battery recycling plant in suburban LA, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has ordered lead testing in a two-square mile area that includes more than 140 homes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Obama welcomes new Iraqi leaders as 'step forward'

CHILMARK, Mass. (AP) — President Barack Obama welcomed new leadership in Iraq as "a promising step forward" Monday amid a political and security crisis in Baghdad, saying the only lasting solution is the formation of an inclusive government.

Obama pointedly did not mention Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki but clearly was nudging the incumbent clinging to power to step aside as he urged Iraqi political leaders to work peacefully through a political transition.

"The United States stands ready to support a government that addresses the needs and grievances of all Iraqi people," Obama said outside his rented vacation home on Martha's Vineyard, where he earlier huddled with advisers for updates on events on the other side of the world.

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