Protections blocked, but sage grouse work goes on

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials will decide next year whether a wide-ranging Western bird species needs protections even though Congress has blocked such protections from taking effect, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday.

They could determine the greater sage grouse is heading toward possible extinction, but they would be unable to intervene under the Endangered Species Act. The bird's fate instead remains largely in the hands of the 11 individual states where they are found.

Washington governor proposes cap on carbon pollution

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday proposed an ambitious cap-and-trade program to require the state's largest industrial polluters to pay for every ton of carbon they release.

The proposal was part of a broader package that the Democrat said would help the state meet a 2008 mandate to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. It sets an overall limit on heat-trapping gases similar to a program that California launched nearly three years ago.

New York will move to prohibit fracking

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will move to prohibit fracking in the state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said Wednesday that he is recommending a ban. Cuomo says he is deferring to Martens and Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in making the decision.

Zucker and Martens on Wednesday summarized the findings of their environmental and health reviews. They concluded that shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing carried unacceptable risks that haven't been sufficiently studied.

Martens says the Department of Environmental Conservation will put out a final environmental impact statement early next year, and after that he'll issue an order prohibiting fracking.

New York has had a ban on shale gas development since the environmental review began in 2008.

Obama signs $1.1 trillion spending bill into law

WASHINGTON (AP) — With little fanfare to mark a rare bipartisan achievement, President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed a massive, $1.1 trillion spending bill that keeps the government operating over the next nine months.

The legislation was a compromise that angered liberals and conservatives alike but avoided a government shutdown and put off partisan clashes over immigration to next year.

Honorable confirmed for FERC, Smith at DOE

The Senate confirmed dozens on nominees in the final hours of a lame duck session Tuesday, including two of President Barack Obama's picks to oversee energy policy.

Colette Honorable was approved for a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a voice vote, after the Senate voted 65-28 on a procedural motion to advance to final confirmation. All of the votes against moving to confirmation were cast by Republicans.

Ohio erred in freezing energy targets, speakers tell meeting

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

At a meeting organized by the advocacy group Ohio Green Energy Economy, speakers slammed state lawmakers for freezing renewable energy targets, with some saying arguments for the move in the legislature were based on out-of-date figures about the costs, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Coal divestment move coming in California


California Democratic State Sen. Kevin de Leon, the body’s President Pro Tem, says he plans to introduce a bill that would force the state’s public pension funds to divest money they have in coal stocks, E&E reports.

Challenging EPA on mercury could weaken climate rule fight


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the legal basis for the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards limiting hazardous emissions in the air, including mercury, but depending on how the justices word their ruling, their decision could torpedo the grounds industry is using to fight EPA’s rule on carbon emissions, E&E reports.

Tribe nurtures forest to cash in on California’s cap-and-trade

Los Angeles Times

Members of the Yurok tribe near the Redwood National Park are making money these days from growing and managing their forest instead of cutting trees for lumber, selling carbon credits to oil companies and other businesses under California’s cap-and-trade program, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Final decision from Commerce on hefty duties against Chinese solar

The New York Times

Following a complaint filed from SolarWorld three years ago that triggered a long-running trade dispute, the Commerce Department has settled on tariffs for solar products from China: Up to 78 percent on solar panels made on the mainland, and up to 27 percent on solar cells made in Taiwan, The New York Times reports.


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