Tuesday

Obama Climate-Change Proposal Would Give States Flexibility to Meet Carbon Reduction Goals

Energy firms, states and foreign governments await final details on White House plan to cut emissions. The Obama administration next week will unveil a cornerstone of its climate-change initiative with a proposed rule aimed at allowing states to use cap-and-trade systems, renewable energy and other measures to meet goals for reducing carbon emissions by existing power plants. Sources say the proposal is designed to give states, which will administer the regulations, flexibility, as opposed to placing emissions limits on individual plants. Key details, including the percentage by which emissions must be cut, still aren’t known. The plan will be Obama’s biggest effort to reverse 20 years of relative inaction on climate change by the U.S., which has stood as the greatest obstacle to global efforts to slow the rise of heat-trapping gases from burning coal and oil. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times

Nonprofit that has sounded the alarm over climate change now cutting deals with oil companies. The famed Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dealing with a severe budget crunch due to reduced federal research funding. But the possibility that Woods Hole’s expertise in deep water exploration could become a new tool for oil firms is troubling to some environmental groups who worry the institution’s scientists could be co-opted by private interests. In coming days, according to Woods Hole officials, the institution is set to sign agreements with Saudi Aramco, the primary oil company owned by the Saudi government, to study the potential for hydrocarbons in the Red Sea. It is also nearing a deal for a study for the Italian oil company Eni, and it has proposals in the works with other corporations. The Boston Globe

Environmental Protection Agency officials accept money from outside groups. An analysis shows that EPA officials — including top brass — have received more than $4.5 million to pay for hotels, meals, travel and other benefits from outside groups over the past four years. Corporations, industry associations, nonprofits, foreign governments and others with a stake in EPA’s rules regularly pay for EPA official travel, according to reports the agency has filed with the Office of Government Ethics. “My concern is the conflict of interest at stake,” said a lobbyist at the watchdog group Public Citizen. “Gifts of travel are usually provided by entities that want to lobby someone, lobby a government official and get some official favors in turn.” Greenwire

Santa Barbara gunman amassed firearms despite California’s strict laws. Authorities said when they found the body of Elliot O. Rodger, who went on a rampage Friday that killed six others and injured 13, his car contained semiautomatic handguns and more than 400 rounds of ammunition. The items were all bought legally at local gun stores, even though Rodger struggled with mental health issues for years. Despite California’s gun laws, it was unclear if the police had the authority to search Rodger’s home for weapons when they checked on him last month. California lets police confiscate guns in such cases only if the person is admitted to a mental health center on a 72-hour psychiatric hold. Also, California bans high-capacity magazines, but Rodger had a stash of low-capacity magazines. One gun law expert said: “The lesson here is that there is not necessarily some magic bullet that is going to stop these mass shootings, though I wish there were.” The New York Times

“Pink slime” makes a comeback amid surging U.S. beef prices. Sales of the ingredient—made from beef scraps left after cattle are butchered—collapsed in 2012 after a social-media frenzy spurred by reports raising questions about its legitimacy as a beef product. The ingredient’s two top producers, Beef Products and Cargill, closed plants that made it and cut hundreds of jobs, while defending the product’s quality and pointing out that the U.S. officials deem it safe. Today, Cargill sells what the industry calls finely textured beef to about 400 retail, food-service and food-processing customers, more than before the 2012 controversy. Production at Beef Products has doubled from its low point. High beef prices have spurred retailers to put the product in hamburger meat, and processors are using it in new products. The Wall Street Journal

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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