California approves fines for water-wasters

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California water regulators voted Tuesday to approve fines up to $500 a day for residents who waste water on lawns, landscaping and car washing, as a report showed that consumption throughout the state has actually risen amid the worst drought in nearly four decades.

The action by the State Water Resources Control Board came after its own survey showed that conservation measures to date have failed to achieve the 20 percent reduction in water use sought by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Democrats divided on coal provision in Export-Import Bank bill

The Hill

Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., pledged to vote against a bill to renew the charter for the Export-Import Bank if it includes provisions to scale back restrictions on financing foreign coal plants, even though fellow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, W. Va., is drafting the bill, The Hill reports.

Denton could become 1st Texas city to ban fracking

DENTON, Texas (AP) — A North Texas community that sits on what's believed to hold one of the biggest natural gas reserves in the U.S. could become the first city in the state to ban hydraulic fracturing, with Denton City Council members set to vote Tuesday night on a citizen-led petition.

Industry groups and state regulators warn that such a ban ban could be followed by litigation and a severe hit to the city economy. The City Council is holding a public hearing Tuesday night, with a vote to follow.

FERC at full strength thanks to unusual deal

Norman Bay garnered just enough support to win confirmation Tuesday as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, surviving strong Republican opposition only by virtue of an unusual deal that deferred his becoming FERC's chair for nine months.

Senators were concerned that Bay, currently the FERC’s enforcement chief, did not have enough experience on the commission itself to lead it. So a compromise was hammered out, according to Energy Committee chair Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., whereby Cheryl LaFleur, who has served as acting head of FERC for eight months, would continue on for nine more before relinquishing the head seat to Bay.


Groups seek ban of oil in older railroad tank cars

SEATTLE (AP) — Two environmental groups are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to immediately ban shipments of volatile crude oil in older railroad tank cars, citing recent explosive oil train wrecks and the department's own findings that those accidents pose an "imminent hazard."

The petition filed Tuesday by the Sierra Club and ForestEthics seeks an emergency order within 30 days to prohibit crude from the Northern Plains' Bakken region and elsewhere from being carried in the older tank cars, known as DOT-111s.

California water use rises amid crippling drought

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Californians increased water consumption this year during the severe drought, despite pleas from the governor to conserve, fallowed farm fields and reservoirs that are quickly draining, according to a report released Tuesday.

The new figures surfaced as state water regulators prepared to vote later in the day on fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, fountains, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

Upton urges abudance-driven energy policy

The Hill

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., used the podium at an Energy Information Administration conference to call for a U.S. energy policy that focuses on taking advantage of surging energy development rather than scarcity-driven policies, The Hill reports.

McCarthy urges states to see carbon rules as investment chance


Speaking before the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners on Monday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urged state officials to view her agency's proposed rules to cut carbon emissions at power plants as a chance to invest in more reliable, cleaner energy rather than as a pollution plan, E&E reports.

Senate confirms Bay, LaFleur to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

In an unusual deal, the Senate has voted to confirm President Obama’s nominees to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- with his choice for chairman serving as a regular commissioner for the first nine months of his term.

Lawmakers voted mostly along party lines, 52-45, to approve Norman Bay, the administration’s original pick to chair the FERC. Under the terms of the agreement, he will serve an apprenticeship of sorts before assuming the position of chairman.


Haslam-owned truck-stop chain won't be charged

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam may have put the worst behind it after federal attorneys agreed not to prosecute Pilot Flying J for cheating customers.

In an agreement with prosecutors, the nation's largest diesel retailer acknowledges that employees cheated trucking companies out of promised fuel rebates and discounts. Pilot has agreed to pay a $92 million penalty, which is within the range of what the company would be expected to pay if convicted at trial.


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