- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CLIMATE

Three big firms leave partnership

Three large companies have left the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of more than two dozen companies and environmental groups lobbying Congress to pass a bill combating climate change.

Oil companies ConocoPhillips and BP America, as well as machine giant Caterpillar Inc., said Tuesday they were not renewing their memberships in the group.

The defections were widely seen as a blow to congressional efforts to cap U.S. emissions of pollution-causing gases blamed for global warming. ConocoPhillips Chairman Jim Mulva said Congress has unfairly penalized domestic oil refineries and ignored natural-gas companies.

The climate coalition includes some of the country’s biggest electric utilities and oil companies, as well as five environmental groups.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to appoint deficit panel

President Obama plans to sign an executive order Thursday establishing a bipartisan deficit commission similar to one that Congress rejected.

A senior administration official says Mr. Obama would appoint Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, Wyoming Republican, as the co-chairmen of the body.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House has not yet announced the details.

Mr. Obama had backed a congressional plan for a bipartisan panel that would study the issue for much of the year and, if 14 members agree, report a deficit-reduction blueprint after the November elections.

Lawmakers - including some of its original Republican champions - rejected that idea.

NEW YORK

Mayor disagrees with Biden on trial costs

NEW YORK | New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended his claim that it would cost $200 million per year to secure the city during a trial of Sept. 11 terrorism suspects in Manhattan, after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. questioned the figure.

Mr. Bloomberg said Tuesday that the city’s estimate is “reasonable” and said no one in the Obama administration questioned it until now. He said city officials have discussed the figures with officials in the White House budget office as well as the Justice Department.

In an interview Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Mr. Biden said, “The mayor came along and said the cost for providing security to hold this trial is X hundreds of millions of dollars, which I think is much more than would be needed.”

Mr. Bloomberg said the estimates are “based on many years of experience and knowing what the costs are in a big city of deploying the greatest police department in the world.”

The city has refused to release a detailed accounting of what the total cost includes.

SENATE

Lautenberg hospital stay ulcer-related

CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. | A bleeding ulcer was behind the hospitalization of longtime New Jersey Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg this week, an aide said Tuesday.

The 86-year-old Democrat underwent a successful endoscopy procedure, spokesman Caley Gray said, adding that Mr. Lautenberg is expected “to make a full recovery and will be back to work soon.”

The senator was taken to a hospital Monday after becoming lightheaded and falling at his Cliffside Park home. His office announced Monday night that he was in great spirits, was joking with doctors and would stay there overnight for routine observation.

Mr. Lautenberg returned Friday from a trip to Haiti with a congressional delegation. He was scheduled to discuss the trip and the U.S. aid effort for the Caribbean nation, which is recovering from a devastating earthquake, at a news conference Tuesday. His office has not said whether he is still expected to attend.

MASSACHUSETTS

Airline passenger threatens Romney

BOSTON | A spokesman for Mitt Romney says the former Republican presidential candidate was threatened by an unruly airline passenger on a flight out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom says Mr. Romney and his wife were on an Air Canada flight to Los Angeles on Monday when Mr. Romney asked the passenger sitting in front of his wife, Ann, to raise his seat back before take off.

Mr. Fehrnstrom says the passenger then became enraged and took a swing at Mr. Romney. He says the former Massachusetts governor did not retaliate, but let the airline crew respond.

The plane returned to the gate, the passenger was removed and the flight took off a short time later.

The Romneys had been in British Columbia since Friday to watch the opening of the Olympic Winter Games.

CONNECTICUT

Lamont announces candidacy for seat

HARTFORD, Conn. | Ned Lamont has announced his candidacy for Connecticut governor.

At an appearance Tuesday at the Old State House in Hartford, Mr. Lamont reminded supporters of his successful campaign in 2006 to deny Sen. Joe Lieberman the Democratic nomination for Senate. Mr. Lieberman went on to win re-election as an independent.

Mr. Lamont says his experience in business, education and local government can end what he says is partisan gridlock in state government.

Four other Democratic candidates have exploratory committees, but have not committed to running.

Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell has announced she will not seek re-election.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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