Policy

Envoy says Iraq can't wait for US military aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iraq is increasingly turning to other governments like Iran, Russia and Syria to help beat back a rampant insurgency because it cannot wait for additional American military aid, Baghdad's top envoy to the U.S. said Tuesday.

Such an alliance could test the Obama administration's influence overseas and raise risks for the U.S. as some of its main global opponents consider joining forces. Moreover, such a partnership could also solidify a Shiite-led crescent across much of the Mideast at a time when the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq is trying to create an Islamic state through the region.

Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily stopped short of describing enduring military relationships with any of the other nations that are offering to help Iraq fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And he said Baghdad would prefer to work with the U.S.

Dead ahead: A pothole in highway construction aid?

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the summer driving season swings into full gear, states can expect a large pothole in their construction budgets if Congress doesn't reach an agreement quickly on how to pay for federal highway and transit programs, President Barack Obama and his top officials are warning.

States will begin to feel the pain of cutbacks in federal aid as soon as the first week in August if lawmakers don't act, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a letter to states. That's because the balance in the federal Highway Trust Fund is dropping and will soon go below $4 billion, the cushion federal officials say is needed for incoming fuel tax revenue to cover outgoing payments to states.

The cuts will vary from state to state but will average about 28 percent, transportation officials said. By the end of August, the trust fund's balance is forecast to fall to zero and the cuts could deepen.

General: US assessing whether Iraq forces can hold

HONOLULU (AP) — A key role of the American troops in Iraq is assessing whether the country's security forces can hold together and whether its leaders are confident they can do their jobs, a top U.S. military official said Tuesday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters after a speech that some of the 750 troops in Iraq are specifically there to help determine what the United States might do next to help Iraq fight an insurgency.

Some troops are manning a joint operations center with Iraqi security forces to give a better picture of how the situation is evolving, while others are visiting Iraqi units to answer some basic questions, Dempsey said.

Thousands protest Mexico City vehicle driving ban

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Thousands of people are marching and blocking roads in Mexico City to protest a new anti-pollution measure that would ban them from driving on Saturdays.

New anti-smog rules that went into effect Tuesday ban cars and trucks more than 15 years old from operating on Saturdays.

While Mexico City has long had one-day-a-week driving ban for older cars, the older vehicles were allowed to drive on most Saturdays.

Clinton: EPA carbon rule ‘creative solution’

Source: 
The Hill

Potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival Monday night, applauded the Obama administration’s moves to fight climate change, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules to limit power plant carbon emissions, but said more action was required, The Hill reports.

Despite Senate rule change, nominee backlog remains

Source: 
E&E

Democrats changed Senate rules last year to allow confirmation of President Obama’s nominees on a simple majority vote, but there are still more than 200 waiting for lawmakers to take action, leaving key agencies like the EPA’s air program without permanent bosses, and the beleaguered Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board with less than half of its seats filled, E&E reports.

EPA sets sights on landfill methane

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed new rules to lower emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from new municipal landfills, in its latest step to implement President Barack Obama's climate action plan.

EPA also called for comment on whether it should move to cut methane emissions from existing landfills, though it said it would decide later whether to go forward with any new standard.

GE deal draws fire from Alstom shareholders

Source: 
Reuters

Alstom minority shareholders, speaking at the annual general meeting Tuesday, expressed concerns about the agreement to sell most of the company’s energy business to General Electric, Reuters reports, noting that CEO Patrick Kron said the deal will need approval from a two-thirds majority.

Groups say coal ash dumps polluting 3 NC rivers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — An environmental group says it's planning to use the federal Clean Water Act to sue Duke Energy over coal ash pollution at three plants along North Carolina rivers.

The Southern Environmental Law Center on Tuesday filed a notice of intent to sue Duke for violations at the company's Cape Fear, Lee and Buck plants.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources took enforcement action against those plants last year.

Hungary to build its part of South Stream

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Hungary says it will go ahead and build its part of Gazprom's South Stream gas pipeline that bypasses Ukraine to supply Europe, despite U.S. and EU objections to the project.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Tuesday in Serbia that "those who say we shouldn't build South Stream should make an alternative proposal about how we could live without energy."

Orban added that "we are going to build the South Stream."

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