- - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ALASKA

Obama implements plan for energy development

ANCHORAGE — President Obama on Tuesday signed an executive order creating an interagency working group to coordinate energy development in Alaska.

Interior Department Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes will chair the high-level group.


Mr. Hayes says on the White House blog that the group will include senior officials from the Defense, Commerce, Agriculture, Energy and Homeland Security departments, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal coordinator for an Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Mr. Hayes says the group will simplify decision-making processes by collaborating as permits are evaluated.

Sen. Mark Begich, Alaksa Democrat, earlier this year introduced legislation to create a federal coordinator for Arctic outer continental shelf drilling.

He says the interagency working group recognizes the importance of Alaska’s oil and gas to the nation’s economic and energy security.

MONTANA

Deal struck to protect imperiled plants, animals

BILLINGS — The Obama administration Tuesday struck a new deal with wildlife advocates that would require the Interior Department to consider greater protections for hundreds of imperiled animals and plants.

The agreement was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by attorneys from the government and the Center for Biological Diversity.

If approved by a judge, the deal would set a 2018 deadline for the administration to decide whether Endangered Species Act protections are needed for species as diverse as the wolverine, Pacific walrus and Miami blue butterfly.

A similar agreement in May with the group WildEarth Guardians excluded some species including the wolverine and walrus, prompting the Center for Biological Diversity to negotiate for a more comprehensive deal.

Some of the plants and animals in the agreement were first proposed for protection soon after the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Instead, they languished for decades on a list of candidate species the government could not afford to help.

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