The Interior Department's push to attract more engineers and geologists to manage oil and gas production on federal leases continues to fall short, and that could undermine a new risk-based inspection strategy, a government watchdog has found.
The Government Accountability Office said in a report published this week that a majority of offices in the department's three offshore and onshore energy bureaus reported "ongoing difficulties filling vacancies," as well as annual attrition of some staff at more than double the pace of the rest of the federal workforce.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A winter storm that brought snow and ice to the East Coast moved off-shore Friday, leaving at least 25 people dead and hundreds of thousands without power and causing a large pileup in Pennsylvania that injured 30 people.
The latest go-round of bad weather came just in time to delay tens of thousands of deliveries of Valentine's Day flowers, dropping snow, sleet and rain on roads already covered with deep puddles and icy patches.
Alexander Baez, 24, spent two hours digging out his car before navigating snow-covered roads to his job as a judicial marshal. "It will be a long, slow commute," Baez said as he filled his tank at a gas station in East Hartford, Conn. "I can't wait until the summer comes."
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Farmers in California's drought-stricken Central Valley said Friday that the financial assistance President Barack Obama is delivering on his visit does not get to the heart of California's long-term water problems.
Amid one of the driest years in the state's recorded history, Obama will come to the Fresno area to announce $100 million in livestock-disaster aid, $60 million to support food banks and another $13 million toward things such as conservation and helping rural communities that could soon run out of drinking water.
Sarah Woolf, a partner with Clark Brothers Farming in Fresno County, said anything will help, but the federal government needs to better manage the state's water supplies so farmers have enough during future droughts like the current one.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Commuters face a messy morning of travel a day after a winter storm brought snow and ice to many states, leaving at least 21 dead, including a pregnant woman struck by a mini-plow in New York City whose baby was then born by cesarean section in critical condition.
The next go-round of bad weather began early Friday in some places — just in time to delay tens of thousands of deliveries of Valentine's Day flowers.
The sloppy mix of snow and face-stinging sleet grounded more than 6,500 flights nationwide on Thursday and closed schools, businesses and government centers. About 1.2 million utility customers lost power as the storm moved from the South through the Northeast, dropping to about 550,000 outages, mostly in South Carolina and Georgia.
TULARE, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown visited California's drought-stricken agricultural heartland on Wednesday and called on Republicans and Democrats in Congress to strike a compromise that will benefit the region and nation.
As part of his busy schedule of stops in the Central Valley, Brown met with farmers at a breakfast and briefly walked the midway of the 47th Annual World Ag Expo in Tulare, a massive farm show where he attracted attention from curious onlookers as he answered questions from reporters.
Brown said bickering among federal lawmakers over drought aid accomplishes nothing.
ATLANTA (AP) — Small armies of utility workers labored to turn the lights — and the heat — back on for hundreds of thousands of Southerners as a winter storm that left them without power threatened major cities further up the East Coast.
The Deep South remained a world of ice-laden trees and driveways early Thursday after several unusual days of sleet and snow brought by a powerful system that could bring more than a foot of snow to such metropolises as Philadelphia, Washington and Boston.
At least 12 deaths across the South have been blamed on the stormy weather and nearly 3,300 flights nationwide were canceled with another day of complicated air and road travel ahead Thursday, particularly in the Northeast.
ATLANTA (AP) — The second wintry storm in two weeks to hit the Deep South encrusted highways, trees and power lines in ice Wednesday, knocking out electricity to more than 350,000 homes and businesses.
But it didn't wreak the highway havoc in Atlanta that the previous bout of heavy weather did — largely because people learned their lesson the last time and stayed off the roads.
At least nine traffic deaths across the region were blamed on the treacherous weather, and more than 3,100 airline flights nationwide were canceled.
There may be a link between weather and the risk of suffering a stroke, say researchers who analyzed climate trends and hospital records on millions of Americans.
Cold weather, high humidity and big daily temperature swings seem to land more people in the hospital with strokes. As it got warmer, risk fell — 3 percent for every 5 degrees, the study found.
"Maybe some of these meteorological factors serve as a trigger," said Judith Lichtman, a Yale University stroke researcher who led the study. With global climate change and extreme weather like this week's freak storm in the South, "this could be increasingly important," she said.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House on Wednesday offered to help U.S. businesses protect their computer systems from cyberattacks that President Barack Obama called "one the gravest national security dangers that the United States faces."
Administration officials warned during an event at the White House that an attack on critical sectors of the U.S. economy could put the entire country at risk.
"It boils down to this — in cybersecurity, the more systems we secure, the more secure we all are," said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. "We are all connected online and a vulnerability in one place can cause a problem in many other places."
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur said Congress can address concerns about grid security by passing legislation to grant one agency the authority to deal with threats, Platts reports.
The problems in Ukraine are unlikely to trigger faster action by the Obama administration on natural gas exports, a White House spokesman appeared to indicate Friday, as he noted that supplies in Europe are at higher-than-normal levels because of the mild winter there, according to Reuters.
Public Service Enterprise Group plans to spend $12 billion over five years on capital projects to improve reliability, hoping to increase the earnings of its utility business, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Weather-related rail bottlenecks in Chicago are causing higher prices and lower supplies of ethanol on the East coast, while Midwest plants are cutting production because of a shortage of rail cars, an industry representative told a U.S. Surface Transportation Board panel, Platts reports.
Investors will challenge corporations during the upcoming proxy season to make more environmental commitments, according to nonprofit Ceres, which has compiled a list of resolutions up for votes, E&E reports.
Saying President Obama's proposed "climate resilience fund" will help communities prepare better for severe weather might win it bipartisan support, according to Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, National Journal reports.