Advocates fear Superfund budget cuts could further delay cleanup of sites

WASHINGTON – In the nine years since the former smelter near her house in Dewey-Humboldt was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of toxic Superfund sites, Rose Eitemiller said she’s seen some progress. But not much. The EPA removed surface soil from the Iron King Mine-Humboldt Smelter site, which is laced with arsenic, and replaced it with clean soil on her property and others in the area, but “two feet below … is still contaminated,” Eitemiller said. “The holdup for cleanup is

Trump orders review of predecessors' national monument designations | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump ordered the Interior Department Wednesday to review two decades of national monument designations, actions he said represent an “egregious use of government power” affecting millions of acres of land. The order could lead to the reversal of national monument designations made since 1996 under the Antiquities Act, an early 20th-century law that lets presidents unilaterally protect historic, cultural and natural resources on federal land by declaring it a monum

Trump rolls back Obama coal, clean-air rules; critics question impact | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s executive order rolling back at least a half-dozen Obama-era climate policies will not save coal jobs as the president claims, but it will definitely harm the environment, critics said Tuesday. The president, surrounded by a group of miners in an Environmental Protection Agency auditorium, signed the order calling for a review of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan that limits greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and repealing a moratorium on new coal leases o

Democrats leave ICE meeting convinced arrests a taste of what’s to come

Democratic leaders left a meeting with immigration officials Thursday convinced that recent apprehensions, detentions and deportations have greatly expanded under President Donald Trump, and said they were told to “expect more arrests.” That contradicts the official Immigration and Customs Enforcement position that recent arrests around the country are no different than the “routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations teams on a daily basis.” ICE officials would not comm

Solar job growth continues in Arizona, but not as fast as in rest of nation

WASHINGTON – Arizona saw a 6 percent increase in solar jobs in 2016, bouncing back from a sharp drop the year before but still trailing well behind the national average of 25 percent growth in solar jobs. Arizona’s 7,310 solar-related jobs put it seventh among states last year, according to the Solar Foundation’s 2016 National Solar Jobs Census released Monday. But experts said the nearly 400 new jobs in the state last year followed a drop of more than 2,000 in 2015, when a change in utility c

‘March for Science’ events expected to draw thousands in Arizona

WASHINGTON – Organizers of the March for Science events scheduled around the country Saturday said they are compelled to march – something scientists don’t normally do – to defend their work against critics and their programs against budget-cutters. “A lot of scientists feel like their funding is threatened and their voice is being extinguished by policy makers who are not paying attention to science,” said Sedona Maniak, a wildlife biologist and organizer for the march in Phoenix. The march w

Report: Climate change a growing factor in fall of Colorado River flows | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – There are many factors behind declining Colorado River flows, but climate change plays a larger part than previously thought and the threat will continue to grow if global warming is not addressed, a recent report says. The report by researchers at the University of Arizona and Colorado State University found that an unprecedented increase in temperatures has contributed to the nearly 20 percent decline in Colorado River flows that occurred from 2000 to 2014. “We’re the first to m

Glendale congressman hopeful for 'born alive' abortion bill with Trump in White House

WASHINGTON – Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, said he has high hopes that his twice-defeated Born-Alive Survivors Protections Act will pass this year with President Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress. “I wasn’t always a Trump guy in the primary because he wasn’t always with us on this issue as you know,” Franks said Tuesday. “But I’ve seen everything that he’s done that has changed to go in the right direction.” Franks was referring to Trump’s

Mesa mayor tells conference there are no homeless vets in city

John Giles tells fellow mayors that the city is working toward the federal 'functional zero' designation. WASHINGTON – Mesa’s efforts to get homeless veterans off the street is closing in on “functional zero,” Mayor John Giles told an audience of fellow mayors in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Giles, speaking at a panel at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, said the city has found housing for 125 vets since first lady Michelle Obama issued a challenge to mayors in 2014 to end the pro

Advocates: Cutting energy funds leaves poor with 'heat or eat' choice | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona got more than $21 million to help low-income residents pay their heating bills last year and another $1 million for home weatherization – money that would be lost under the Trump administration’s proposed budget. President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget would eliminate the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program, programs that the administration said do not perform as well as they should and which are better handled at the stat

Democrats: Border wall could block budget, force government shutdown | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Democratic leaders said Monday that President Donald Trump’s insistence on the border wall in the budget has “thrown a monkey wrench” in negotiations to reach a deal by Friday that would head off a government shutdown. The current budget expires at midnight Friday and unless Congress acts to replace or extend the budget, nonessential government services would stop at 12:01 a.m. Saturday – Trump’s 100th day in office. Democrats said Monday that negotiations with their Republican co

Lawmakers: Obama won't OK Grand Canyon monument before leaving | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will leave office Friday without declaring a new 1.7 million acre national monument around the Grand Canyon, Arizona lawmakers said this week. Both congressional opponents and supporters of the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act said Obama will not make the declaration, which would permanently put affected lands off-limits to new uranium mining and logging. Some environmentalists are still holding onto hope that Obama will act before Friday.

National report card ranks state among worst for highway safety laws | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona was rated one of the most dangerous states in the nation for drivers and passengers due to its relative lack of highway safety laws, according to a national report card released Tuesday. The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety looked at 15 laws it says states should have, everything from drunken to distracted driving measures, and ranked states based on the number they had in place last year. Arizona had just four of the 15, one of just three states with so few. “Arizona

State of Indian Nations: Hopeful, but cautious, as Trump replaces Obama | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Tribal leaders said they hope to see a continuation of the gains in tribal and federal relations under the Trump administration that they said began during the administration of President Barack Obama. National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said Monday in the annual State of Indian Nations address that Obama fostered “the most successful government-to-government relationship Indian people have enjoyed since the formation of the United States,” a relationshi

Court: Maricopa County worker's talk with reporter not protected speech | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office did not violate the First Amendment rights or employee contract of a former worker it terminated following comments she made to the Arizona Republic. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lower court’s finding that the attorney’s office improperly fired Maria Brandon in retaliation for a statement she made to a reporter on a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department case s

Advocates worry success could be latest threat for gray wolves | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Populations of endangered Mexican gray wolves have reached their highest numbers since reintroduction efforts began nearly 20 years ago, but rather than cheer the success, environmentalists are worried it could backfire on the struggling animals. With wolf numbers – and wolf predation – on the rise, state, local and cattle industry officials have renewed their push to have a greater say in controlling its population. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, reintroduced a bill last month to re

Court rejects cases on Navajo Generating Station impact, its closing | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court rejected two cases related to the Navajo Generating Station, one that aimed to tighten environmental restrictions on the coal-fired power plant and another questioned the process that calls for the plant’s closure. A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday turned away an argument by environmental groups that the Environmental Protection Agency cut corners when it developed its plan to regulate nitrogen oxide emissions from the pl

Phoenix slips in national ranking of cities for solar energy capacity | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Phoenix fell from third to fifth place among cities for total installed solar capacity last year, slowed by charges imposed on Arizona solar users at time when other cities surged ahead with new installation. That was the finding of the annual “Shining Cities” report by Environment America, which ranks the 20 cities with the largest installed photovoltaic solar capacity – the total amount of energy generated if all a city’s solar panels were operating at 100 percent efficiency. Th

Report: Airline quality best in years, but Sky Harbor carriers lag | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Airlines performed better last year than they had for almost the last three decades, according to an annual report on airline quality released Monday. The 2017 Airline Quality Rating report, an annual report by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott and Wichita State University, showed slight increases across the board in performance measures: mishandled baggage, consumer complaints, on-time performance and involuntary denied boardings. The report’s authors said Monday t

VA unveils tool to give vets clearer picture of medical care, delays | Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Veterans advocates said they were cautiously optimistic Wednesday about a new Department of Veteran Affairs website that aims to provide veterans better information on wait times and quality of care at the agency’s hospitals. VA officials said at the launch of their Access to Care site Wednesday that it is an “unprecedented” move to increase transparency and accountability at the agency. “One word to describe what we have done here is, transformative,” said Dr. Poonam Alaigh, acti
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