US Judge sets deadline for rare Nevada plant-listing decision
Japan to start releasing Fukushima water to sea in 2 years
TOKYO (AP) — Radioactive water accumulating in tanks at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will be released into the sea in two years after it is treated, Japan's government said Tuesday in a decision long delayed by safety concerns and protests. Cabinet ministers endorsed the release as the best option for handling the massive amount of water that has been stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant since the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 caused reactor meltdowns and leaks of cooling water from the damaged reactors.
RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal judge has given the Fish and Wildlife Service just 30 more days to make an overdue decision on whether to formally propose endangered species protection for a rare desert wildflower at the center of a fight over a proposed lithium mine in Nevada.
Conservationists say the rare order issued Wednesday in Las Vegas is a significant victory that underscores the critical condition of the Tiehm’s buckwheat, which they say is on the brink of extinction.
“The situation with the buckwheat truly is an emergency, and the judge recognized that,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been demanding protection of the plant since the listing petition was filed October 2019.
US to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America that were coordinated from that country, several U.S. officials said. Biden will lay out his vision for the way forward in Afghanistan and the timeline for the withdrawal in remarks Wednesday afternoon, The White House said. Punctuating the nearly two decades U.S. troops have fought and died in Afghanistan, the president will then visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery to honor the sacrifice of those who died in recent American conflicts.
The agency was supposed to decide last October whether or not to propose protection under the Endangered Species Act. It had said staff and budgetary constraints would prevent it from deciding until Sept. 30, 2021.
On Wednesday, Judge James Mahan denied the center's bid to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to act on a subsequent emergency listing petition it filed last fall after an estimated 40% of the plant’s population was destroyed during an unprecedented catastrophic event federal officials blamed on rodents.
But Mahan said “more than enough time has passed” to complete the required year-long review. He ordered a decision be made within 30 days.
Three Supreme Court justices tackle U.S. partisan divisions in public remarks
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer addressed a virtual conference Wednesday, avoiding speculation about whether he plans to retire this year.Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, making his second public address in as many weeks, brushed aside divisive political rancor in Washington and discussed how the justices work through ideological differences to build majorities in controversial cases.
“By its own admission, FWS has violated the ESA by failing to issue a timely 12-month finding as to whether it intends to list Tiehm’s buckwheat as an endangered species,” he wrote in a 16-page order.
“This court finds no reason to grant additional time for FWS to make its admittedly overdue finding,” he said. “Defendants fail to persuasively argue that the 30-day deadline is impossible or infeasible."
The wildflower is found only on 10 acres (4 hectares) at Rhyolite Ridge where the Canadian mining company, Ioneer Ltd., wants to dig for lithium and boron on federal land about 220 miles (354 kilometers) southeast of Reno.
Ioneer Managing Director Bernard Rowe said the ruling “is not unexpected” and “in no way dictates an outcome of the FWS listing decision — it just requires them to propose a decision by a certain date.”
Ioneer has been committed from the beginning to “producing a first-class project that allows for the development of a critical supply of lithium, while also ensuring the protection” of the plant, Rowe said in a statement late Wednesday.
Supreme Court passes on Second Amendment cases challenging lifetime gun ownership ban
The Supreme Court declined to hear three Second Amendment cases challenging a federal ban on gun ownership for people convicted of nonviolent crimes.By not taking the appeals, the nation's highest court let stand a series of lower court rulings that prohibited people convicted of driving under the influence, making false statements on tax returns and selling counterfeit cassette tapes from owning a gun.
“We are confident that the science strongly supports the co-existence of our vital lithium operation and Tiehm’s buckwheat,” he said.
The Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Mahan noted the U.S. Bureau of Land Management already has designated the plant as a sensitive species, and the state is considering listing as a ``fully protected species.”
Last July, the service concluded in a 90-day finding that was supposed to be completed in January 2020 that the center had provided “substantial information” indicating protection of the buckwheat “may be warranted.”
The center believes the destruction of nearly half of its remaining population between July and September was caused by humans. The government disagrees.
Mahan said that “although the exact cause of the destruction is uncertain, the parties do not dispute the ongoing and `alarming’ threat to the species.”
Greenwald said species typically haven’t received Endangered Species Act protection unless conservationists petition for a listing and/or file lawsuits demanding such action.
“The agency basically has to be forced to do their job. That's been the case for a long time now,” said Greenwald, who has been helping prepare such lawsuits for more than 20 years.
“Usually when we bring these `deadline’ suits, the Fish and Wildlife Service offers us a date and we agree and there’s a settlement. In this case, we felt there was such an emergency here, that immediate action needed to happen. We weren’t willing to settle for some date in the future,” he said.
Gone Fission: Controversial nuke plant near NYC shuts down .
BUCHANAN, N.Y. (AP) — Indian Point will permanently stop producing nuclear power Friday, capping a decades-long battle over a key source of electricity in the heart of New York City's suburbs that opponents have called a threat to millions living in the densely packed region. The retirement of the Indian Point Energy Center along the Hudson River could increase New York's short-term reliance on natural gas plants, despite the state's goal of The retirement of the Indian Point Energy Center along the Hudson River could increase New York's short-term reliance on natural gas plants, despite the state's goal of reducing carbon emissions. But Gov.