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  1. Energy Industry: Pruitt OK'd as EPA chief over environmentalists' objections

    Senate Democrats, from left, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, announce their request of the Republican majority to delay the confirmation vote on President Donald Trump's controversial nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, until the nominee turns over the thousands of requested emails from his time as attorney general of Oklahoma. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) WASHINGTON (AP) — Over the strong objections of environmental groups, the Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, giving President Donald Trump an eager partner to fulfill his campaign pledge to increase the use of planet-warming fossil fuels . Pruitt was sworn in later Friday by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. In six years as Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits challenging EPA regulations that included limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. He also sued over the EPA's recent expansion of water bodies regulated under the Clean Water Act, a federal measure opposed by industries that would be forced to clean up polluted wastewater. Pruitt submitted his resignation as attorney general to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday. Pruitt's supporters cheered his confirmation, hailing the 48-year-old Republican lawyer as the ideal pick to roll back environmental regulations they say are a drag on the nation's economy. "EPA has made life hard for families all across America," said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "The agency has issued punishing regulations that caused many hardworking Americans to lose their jobs. Mr. Pruitt will bring much needed change." The vote was 52-46 as Republican leaders used their party's narrow Senate majority to push Pruitt's confirmation despite calls from top Democrats to delay the vote until requested emails are released next week. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican vote against Pruitt. Two Democrats from states with economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels crossed party lines to support Trump's pick, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. During his Senate confirmation hearing last month, Pruitt said he disagreed with Trump's past statements that global warming is a hoax. However, Pruitt has previously expressed doubt about scientific evidence showing that the planet is heating up and that humans are to blame. Pruitt's nomination was vigorously opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of current and former EPA employees, who fear he will preside over massive budget and staff cuts. "The biologists, scientists, lab technicians, engineers and other civil servants who work at the EPA must be able to do their jobs without political interference or fear of retribution," said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, a labor union representing more than 9,000 EPA employees. Democrats boycotted a committee vote on Pruitt's nomination last month, citing his refusal to hand over thousands of emails that he exchanged with oil and gas executives. As part of a public records lawsuit, a state judge in Oklahoma on Thursday concluded there was no legal justification for Pruitt's withholding his correspondence for the past two years. She ordered him to release most of the emails by next week. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to delay Pruitt's confirmation vote for 10 days. Schumer, of New York, tried to draw a direct line between Pruitt's withheld emails and last year's demands from Republicans during the presidential campaign. "Emails! Remember emails?" Schumer asked on the Senate floor. "'We should get them out!' they said about Hillary Clinton. ... If they weren't worried about them, then why rush?" To dramatize their cause, Democrats kept the Senate in session Thursday night into Friday morning with speeches opposing Pruitt's confirmation. Democrats were still marching to the floor at daybreak. In the end, McConnell had the votes. So far, the Senate has confirmed 14 out of 22 Trump Cabinet or Cabinet-level picks requiring confirmation. Another nominee, billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross, cleared a Senate hurdle on Friday and is on track to win approval to serve as commerce secretary. A final vote is slated for Feb. 27. Trump has tapped some of the wealthiest Americans to serve in his Cabinet, and ethics reviews have slowed the confirmation process. So have Senate Democrats, who have opposed nominees and forced hours of debate. Pruitt is closely aligned in his home state with oil and gas companies, whose executives have backed his political campaigns. Though Pruitt ran unopposed for a second term in 2014, public campaign finance reports show he raised more than $700,000, much of it from people in the energy and utility industries. Environmental groups have already begun hiring additional lawyers to stymie as much of Pruitt's agenda as possible in court. "Scott Pruitt is the worst pick ever confirmed to lead the EPA," said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We'll use every tool in the kit to stop him from harming our air and water, endangering our communities and surrendering our kids to climate catastrophe."

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    Tue, 21 Feb 2017

  2. Wind Power: Measure proposes moratorium on North Dakota wind energy

    Worried North Dakota's burgeoning wind-energy industry may be threatening the state's coal-fired power plants, a Republican lawmaker has proposed legislation that would halt wind-generation projects for two years.

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    Wed, 22 Feb 2017

  3. Oil and Gas: New Mexico contemplates new powers for oil regulators

    The New Mexico Legislature may restore the state's authority to impose administrative penalties of up to $10,000 per day against oil and natural gas companies for violations of operating and environmental rules.

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    Wed, 22 Feb 2017

  4. Energy Industry: Judge: EPA nominee Pruitt must provide records of meetings

    An Oklahoma judge Thursday ordered state Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, to turn over documents related to Pruitt's communications with coal, oil and natural gas corporations that an advocacy group has sought for more than ...

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    Sat, 18 Feb 2017

  1. Solar Power: Indiana Senate panel OKs bill to reduce solar incentives

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    Fri, 17 Feb 2017

  2. Natural Gas Power Plant: Minnesota Senate says yes to Becker power plant

    The Minnesota Legislature is moving to side-step utility regulators by approving a new Xcel Energy power plant in central Minnesota.

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    Fri, 17 Feb 2017

  3. Oil and Gas: Proposal for oil-spill fund moves to Mississippi House

    The Mississippi House will get to debate a bill setting aside $750 million in oil spill economic-damage payments for projects on the Gulf Coast.

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    Wed, 15 Feb 2017

  4. Oil and Gas: Boulder County keeps drilling moratorium despite warning

    Boulder County did not drop its moratorium on oil and gas drilling Friday as Attorney General Cynthia Coffman demanded, a county official said, potentially setting up a court battle.

    Online Articles

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    Tue, 14 Feb 2017

  5. Oil and Gas: Alaska gas line group leader pledges openness with lawmakers

    The president of a state-sponsored gas pipeline corporation on Tuesday pledged greater openness with Alaska lawmakers, many of whom have grown increasingly skeptical about the major project the corporation is trying to advance.

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    Thu, 16 Feb 2017

  6. Solar Power: Initiative seeks rooftop solar on New Mexico state buildings

    A bill designed to spur the installation of rooftop solar arrays on state government buildings in New Mexico has cleared its first hurdle in the state Legislature.

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    Thu, 16 Feb 2017

  7. Oil and Gas: Giessel flags concerns with House oil tax, credit bill

    An Alaska senator has concerns with a House bill she says constitutes a major rewrite of the state's oil tax policy.

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    Wed, 15 Feb 2017

  8. Renewable Energy: Virginia GOP, big utilities back a costly green energy idea

    Republican lawmakers in Virginia have maintained a go-slow approach to renewable energy for years, saying a conservative path has helped keep electricity costs under control as the state figures out how best to harness solar or wind power.

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    Online Articles

    Tue, 14 Feb 2017

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