• Amid budget woes, gas drilling tax turns GOP heads

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Slapping Pennsylvania's booming natural gas industry with a new tax has long been the currency of Democrats, and now an increasingly grim budget picture is turning Republican heads in the GOP-controlled state Legislature. Some Republicans in the Capitol are predicting that a tax on natural gas extraction could end up in whatever final budget legislation emerges, probably in late June. The multinational industry has been a lightning rod since it arrived in Pennsylvania five years ago, and raising taxes on it would be preferable to cutting aid to schools or the poor, some Republicans say. One obstacle is Gov. Tom Corbett.

  • Oil transport draws cry for disaster training help

    Updated: 14 hr ago

    STAPLES, Minn. (AP) — North Dakota's oil boom has safety on the minds of many Minnesota towns as the volatile crude rumbles through town aboard long trains. Officials are mindful of fiery derailments in the past year, including one in Quebec that killed 47 people. State lawmakers are mulling bills that would have railroads help pay to train and equip emergency responders. Scott Braith leads a volunteer fire department in Staples, where trains were passing before the town even existed. He says nothing would get his force ready for a catastrophe like the one in Quebec, but it would help if railroads were more proactive. Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Canadian Pacific aren't fighting the Minnesota legislation.

  • Farley Nuclear Plant conducting exercise

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Officials at the Farley Nuclear Plant near Dothan are telling people not to get excited if they see a lot of law enforcement and emergency vehicles around the plant next week. It's only a drill. Farley official Cheryl Gayheart says the nuclear power plant will be conducting a hostile action exercise Wednesday afternoon along with federal, state and local emergency officials. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires nuclear power plants to conduct the exercises at least once every eight years. Gayheart says people may see law enforcement vehicles, emergency vehicles and law enforcement helicopters at the plant and in the community. The Farley Nuclear Plant is part of the Southern Co., the parent c

  • House Finance advances gas line bill

    Updated: 23 hr ago

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The House Finance Committee on Friday advanced a bill setting the state's participation in a major liquefied natural gas project, with members expressing a mix of both optimism and skepticism about whether the process would yield a long hoped-for gas line. Co-chair Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, said he saw a lot of will and desire to get a project done but noted the process is still in its early stages. Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, said he wants a project to be successful because of the positive impact that could have on state revenue. But he said he worried about another "false start." SB138, from Gov. Sean Parnell, would set at about 25 percent state participation in the project also being pursued

  • Dutch man's case linked to Amanda Todd


    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Canadian police confirmed an arrest has been made in the Netherlands in the case of a Canadian teenager who was blackmailed into exposing herself in front of a webcam. The 15-year-old later committed suicide after detailing her harassment on a YouTube video watched by millions around the world. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Insp. Paulette Freill said Thursday that a suspect was arrested in the Netherlands and charged with extortion, luring and criminal harassment and possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution. The 35-year-old man has been identified under Dutch privacy laws only as "Aydin C." Freill declined to release specifics of the case but said there were other vi

  • PG&E to be arraigned in fatal pipeline blast


    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. officials are set to appear in court on Monday to face federal felony charges involving safety violations tied to a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area. An indictment filed earlier this month charges the utility with 12 felony violations of federal pipeline safety laws, which could carry a total possible fine of $6 million, or more if the court decides it somehow benefited financially from the disaster. Federal prosecutors allege that PG&E knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline that eventually ruptured and sparked a fireball that destroyed 38 San Bruno homes.

  • Judge says American can't end retiree benefits yet


    DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge has rejected an attempt by American Airlines to quickly cut off benefits for many of its retirees. American wants retirees who wish to keep their benefits to pay all the cost. Now the dispute could go to negotiations or a trial. On Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Sean Lane in New York rejected a request made by American's former parent, AMR Corp., for the right to immediately eliminate retiree benefits for former pilots, flight attendants and other union workers. Lane granted AMR's request for a group of nonunion workers. The company had 46,930 retirees when it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011. American was left to ponder its next move.

  • Judge strikes down part of Minnesota energy law


    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A federal judge ruled Friday that part of a Minnesota law designed to promote the use of renewable energy is unconstitutional because it attempts to control business that takes place outside state borders — and she barred Minnesota officials from enforcing it. The ruling was a victory for North Dakota officials and representatives of that state's coal industry, who sued Minnesota in 2011, claiming that the law unfairly blocked them from exporting electricity into its neighbor. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he strongly disagreed with the decision and the state will appeal. "I will defend the state of Minnesota's right to protect the quality of the air our citizens breathe," Dayton said in a statement.<

  • Figures on government spending and debt


    WASHINGTON (AP) — Figures on government spending and debt (last six digits are eliminated). The government's fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

  • US newspaper industry revenue fell 2.6 pct in 2013


    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. newspaper industry revenue fell last year, as increases in circulation revenue weren't high enough to make up for shrinking demand for print advertising, an industry trade group said Friday. The Newspaper Association of America said revenue fell 2.6 percent to $37.6 billion in 2013. Circulation revenue rose 3.7 percent to $10.9 billion, the second straight year of growth. Advertising revenue fell 6.5 percent to $23.6 billion. In recent years, newspapers have looked to increase revenue from online sources, as more readers turn to the Internet and mobile devices for news. Digital advertising revenue increased 1.5 percent to $3.42 billion. But that wasn't enough to offset an 8.6 percent drop in

  • Correction: Restaurant Sales story


    NEW YORK (AP) — In a story April 17 about restaurant sales, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the average sales in a Starbucks location in 2013 was $13.1 million. It was $1.31 million, according to an estimate by restaurant industry tracker Technomic. A corrected version of the story is below: How Chipotle's average sales per restaurant rank How Chipotle's average sales per restaurant rank compared with other chains By CANDICE CHOI AP Food Industry Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Chipotle restaurants are ringing up more sales than ever before. The chain said Thursday that sales at established locations rose 13.4 percent in the first quarter as it saw an increase in customer visits.

  • Illinois' mining-oversight official fired


    ST. LOUIS (AP) — A top administrator with the Illinois state agency that regulates coal mining and other energy interests has been fired, becoming the latest official to depart in the last two months. Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Young confirmed Friday that Tony Mayville was dismissed this week from his position as supervisor of mine safety enforcement with the DNR's Office and Mines and Minerals. Young declined to elaborate, calling Mayville's ouster a private personnel matter.

  • Recalls this week: lanterns, exercise devices


    Candle lanterns that can melt and pose a fire hazard and gun storage boxes that can unlock when dropped are among this week's recalled consumer products. Others include faulty exercise devices and steel-toed boots. Here's a more detailed look: LANTERNS DETAILS: Pier 1 Imports' hanging glass star lanterns. They were sold in the following colors and SKU numbers: amber (SKU 2717349), clear (SKU 2717351) and red (SKU 2724169). The SKU number is printed on a hang tag attached to the lantern. The lantern is a three-dimension star-shape made of gold-toned metal and glass. A metal tea light cup sits inside the metal and glass star. They were sold at Pier 1 Imports stores nationwide and online at www.Pier1.com from August 2013

  • Chafee signs digital proof of insurance bill


    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Gov. Lincoln Chafee has signed into law legislation allowing motorists in Rhode Island to use their smartphones to offer police proof they have auto insurance. The bills sponsored by Sen. William Conley Jr. and Rep. Gregg Amore allow drivers to use their phones, tablets or other electronic devices to access their policies as proof of insurance during a traffic stop. Conley calls digital proof of insurance a matter of convenience. Under the legislation, police are prohibited from viewing any content on the device other than the insurance information. Chafee signed the legislation on Friday. It takes effect immediately.

  • Federal lawsuit over western Md. wind farm ends


    CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — A legal dispute over a western Maryland wind farm has ended. A U.S. District Court judge in Baltimore dismissed the case Tuesday at the request of both sides. The citizen group Save Western Maryland filed the lawsuit in 2010 against developers of the 28-turbine Criterion wind farm in Garrett County. The project owned by Chicago-based Exelon Corp has been operating since 2010. The lawsuit alleged that the operator needed permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to kill federally endangered Indiana bats injured in collisions with the turbine blades. In December, the federal agency approved operational changes Exelon had proposed to minimize harm to the bats.

  • Company gets help and is now dressed for success


    NEW YORK (AP) — When Tessemae's salad dressing quickly became a hit, the owners of the family-run condiment company were faced with the reality that they needed help navigating the grocery business. The company based in Annapolis, Md., got its start in 2009 selling dressing to a local Whole Foods and then worked its way into five stores. By last summer it got into the chain's nearly 375 locations. In October, it reached Safeway stores in Northern California and was on its way to a national rollout of 1,100 stores. Success brought challenges. A firm Tessemae's hired to help raise money from investors wasn't up to the task. The company had contracts to buy ingredients that were priced too high and it didn't have enough cash

  • AP Sources: Obama administration extending agency review of Keystone XL oil pipeline


    WASHINGTON (AP) — AP Sources: Obama administration extending agency review of Keystone XL oil pipeline.

  • Appeals court rejects challenge on cement plants


    WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday turned aside a challenge by environmental groups to an air pollution standard for cement plants. In a 3-0 decision, the appeals court said the emissions-related provisions of the Environmental Protection Agency standard are permissible. The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups had argued that the standard weakened an earlier EPA rule for cement plants that the industry had successfully challenged. The appeals court found the earlier rule from 2010 to be arbitrary and capricious and returned it to the EPA for redrafting, resulting in the latest decision. The environmental groups and EPA disagree over whether the Clean Air Act prohibits weak

  • 27K UPMC worker hit by data breach, 788 by fraud


    PITTSBURGH (AP) — The personal information of 27,000 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center employees might have been put at risk by identity thieves who apparently used the information of 788 workers to file bogus federal tax returns, the hospital network said. UPMC notes that no patient information has been lost to the thieves, who are being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies but have yet to be charged. "This complex investigation is ongoing and we have had outstanding interagency cooperation," U.S. Attorney David Hickton, the lead federal prosecutor for western Pennsylvania, said Friday.

  • Report: Pennsylvania forests impacted by drilling


    PITTSBURGH (AP) — A small portion of Pennsylvania state forest land has been impacted by shale gas drilling, but many questions remain about how to manage the politically sensitive issue that is opposed by many residents, according to a new report. The 268-page Department of Conservation and Natural Resources report issued this week concluded that "shale-gas production on state forest lands is neither benign nor catastrophic" and that there are clearly impacts and trade-offs. "The question is what trade-offs are acceptable," the report said. The report found that about 1,486 acres of forest have been converted to various types of drilling-related development since 2008, including roads, well pads, and pipelines, out o