White House photo

Obama to pressure global leaders at U.N. climate summit

President Barack Obama will pressure world leaders at the United Nations climate summit next week -- including India and China -- to set ambitious carbon reduction targets after 2020, senior White House officials said Thursday.

"We are taking this summit seriously, both to show the world that the U.S. is committed to leading the fight against climate change, and to call on other leaders to step up to the plate to raise their level of ambition to take on climate change," senior adviser John Podesta told reporters on a conference call.

Range Resources to pay $4M drilling waste fine

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Energy company Range Resources said Thursday it has agreed to pay a $4.15 million fine for environmental violations at a western Pennsylvania site that handled natural gas drilling waste.

The penalty is the largest the state has ever imposed on the shale gas industry.

Range, based in Fort Worth, Texas, said in a statement that it accepts the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection fine and is "deeply disappointed" over the violations at Washington County wastewater impoundments, about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

Chevron meets new, voluntary shale drilling rules

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chevron has become the first energy company to meet a new set of voluntary shale gas drilling standards that aim to go beyond existing state laws in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale announced Thursday.

The center is a partnership between major energy companies, environmental groups and charitable foundations. Its certification process consisted of an independent review of Chevron documents and 22 of its production sites in the three states.

Bill seeks fairer treatment for black lung victims

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Bob Casey unveiled legislation Thursday aimed at ensuring fairer treatment for coal miners with black lung disease as they pursue benefits claims.

The bill by the two coal-state senators comes after an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News examined how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, helped defeat the benefits claims of sick miners. The yearlong investigation won a Pulitzer prize for the Center for Public Integrity.

Among other things, the bill would require parties in a case to disclose all medical evidence; strengthen criminal penalties for making false statements in the claims process; help miners develop evidence in their claims; and create a system to pay a portion of miners' legal fees earlier in the litigation process.

NOAA: Yet more global heat records fall in August

WASHINGTON (AP) — The globe smashed more heat records last month, including Earth's hottest August and summer, federal meteorologists said Thursday.

May, June and August all set global heat records this year. Meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average world temperature in August was 61.36 degrees Fahrenheit (16.35 degrees Celsius), breaking a record set in 1998.

Kansas court: Remove Democrat from Senate ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered the state to remove U.S. Senate Democratic nominee Chad Taylor's name from the ballot, in a ruling that could influence the national fight for control of the Senate.

The court's decision Thursday leaves Democrats without a nominee, potentially making it easier for independent candidate Greg Orman to defeat three-term Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts. The GOP has counted on Roberts winning re-election on Nov. 4 as they seek to recapture a Senate majority.

Man arrested over fast-growing California wildfire

POLLOCK PINES, Calif. (AP) — A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson in an out-of-control Northern California wildfire that has driven nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday.

Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, is suspected of starting the fire east of Sacramento on Saturday, authorities said at a news conference.

By Thursday, the blaze had burned through 111 square miles as winds surged to 25 mph and continued to fuel its rapid expansion, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was 5 percent contained.

Jamaica aims to double renewable energy capacity

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Sun-splashed, wind-swept Jamaica positioned itself Thursday to nearly double the amount of electricity it generates from renewable sources.

During a ceremony in Kingston, three companies focused on wind and solar energy signed power purchase agreements worth roughly $200 million with Jamaica's sole electricity distributor and also received licenses from the government.

Greens exit Finnish government over nuclear spat

HELSINKI (AP) — The environmentalist Green Party says it's dropping out of Finland's coalition government, which has endorsed the construction of a new nuclear power plant.

Green Party leader and Environment Minister Ville Niinisto told reporters Thursday that the decision clashes with the core values of the anti-nuclear Greens, a junior partner in governing coalition since 2011.

The exit weakens Prime Minister Alexander Stubb's coalition though it retains a majority in Parliament by one seat.

Vote counting begins in Scotland on independence

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — The polls have closed and vote counting is underway in Scotland's historic referendum on whether to end the country's 307-year-old union with England.

Polling places reported a heavy turnout Thursday. More than 4.2 million people were registered to vote — 97 percent of those eligible.

Office of Sen. Murkowski

Murkowski, Scott point to energy insecurity

Two Republican senators on Thursday sought to call attention to the impact of higher energy prices on the poor, which they said could push struggling families into poverty.

A white paper issued Thursday by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.,  proposes tools to calculate the number of families that fall below the poverty line if energy prices rise.

US to train veterans to install solar panels

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years, the White House said Thursday.

The jobs training program is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tons through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases.

USDA approves new modified corn, soybean seeds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department has approved the use of genetically modified corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to a popular weed killer.

However, farmers won't be able to take full advantage of the seeds until the Environmental Protection Agency issues a second ruling allowing the use of Enlist, a new version of the 2,4-D weed killer that's been around since the 1940s. The EPA has said it will rule this fall on Dow AgroSciences' application to market the chemical.

The agriculture industry has been anxiously awaiting the approvals, as many weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide commonly used on corn and soybeans now. Herbicide-resistant seeds introduced in the 1990s allowed farmers to spray fields after their plants emerged, killing the weeds but leaving crops unharmed.

Obama, Ukraine president to meet at White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a symbolic show of support for Ukraine's fledgling government, President Barack Obama is meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the Oval Office on Thursday after the leader of the former Soviet republic speaks to a rare joint session of Congress.

Poroshenko arrives in Washington seeking more robust U.S military assistance to help his country in its fight against Russian-backed rebels. Obama so far has resisted Ukraine's request for lethal assistance, though the U.S. has provided about $60 million in nonlethal aid to Ukraine's military.

White House officials made clear that Poroshenko's visit — his first to the U.S. since being elected this summer — was aimed in part at sending a message to Russia about the West's backing for the embattled former Soviet republic.

Senate next after House backs Obama on rebel aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's request for congressional backing to train and arm rebels battling Islamic State militants in Syria is halfway home after its easy approval by the GOP-controlled House sent the issue to the Senate, where leaders in both parties say approval is ensured.

Obama won support from staunch Republicans who typically are reflexively against him and lost the votes from some of his most loyal Democratic allies in the 273-156 House tally. Republicans backed Obama by a more than 2-1 margin; Democrats backed him as well, but to a lesser degree.

Over 2,000 homes threatened in California fire

WEED, Calif. (AP) — Teams of firefighters went house-to-house on Wednesday to pin down damage done by a wildfire that officials estimated had destroyed 110 homes and damaged another 90 in the small town of Weed while another Northern California blaze east of Sacramento was threatening more than 2,000 homes as it burned out of control, officials said.

The new figures from Weed brought a marked increase from the initial estimate that a total of 150 structures had been destroyed or damaged in the blaze that began Monday and rapidly swept across the town. Four firefighters lost their homes.

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