Nation Digest

Nation Digest: Judge Rebuffs Obama on Mining Waste

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Judge Rebuffs Obama On Mining Waste

A federal judge on Wednesday rebuffed the Obama administration's attempt to reverse a Bush-era rule that allows surface mine waste to be dumped near streams.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wanted to return to a 1983 regulation that kept coal companies 100 feet from streams unless they could prove that mining would not harm water quality or quantity. But U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. wrote in his ruling that granting Salazar's request would be tantamount to changing a federal regulation without public input. The Interior Department is reviewing the decision.

In mountaintop removal mining, companies remove vast areas to expose coal. Although they are required to restore much of the land, the removal creates tons of debris that is used to fill nearby valleys.

-- Associated Press

American Convicted of Aiding Terror Groups: A Georgia man was convicted Wednesday of aiding terrorist groups by sending videotapes of U.S. landmarks overseas and plotting to support "violent jihad." A federal jury rejected arguments that it was empty talk, finding Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 23, guilty of all four charges he faced. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison.

NASA Can't Afford Moonshot, Panel Says: NASA's Constellation program, meant to return Americans to the moon by 2020, cannot afford to do that -- and the agency's budget will not allow humans to explore beyond the international space station for two decades, a presidential panel has concluded. NASA's annual budget of about $18 billion will pay to keep astronauts flying -- albeit aboard Russian rockets -- to the space station through 2020, the panel said Wednesday. But that would leave no money for missions to the moon and Mars or exploring other parts of the solar system for at least 20 years.

Judge Vindicates Palin's E-Mailing: A judge ruled Wednesday that the Alaska governor's office can use private e-mail accounts to conduct state business, as former governor Sarah Palin sometimes did. Alaska Superior Court Judge Jack W. Smith said there is no provision in Alaska law that prohibits the use of private e-mail accounts when conducting state business. The case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Anchorage resident Andree McLeod, who contended that such use of private e-mails denies citizens the right to inspect public records.

Post Office Plans Bulk Discounts: Looking for ways to boost business, the Postal Service is planning to offer discounts to some of its best customers. Companies that mailed at least 500,000 first-class letters, cards or large envelopes between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 in each of the past two years will be eligible for the lower prices, according to papers filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission. The agency estimated that the program would bring in an additional $43 million, between new mail and mailings that move up from standard to first-class service.

-- From News Services

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