Today’s Climate: January 17-18, 2009

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11th-Hour Ruling Blocks Utah Oil and Gas Leases (New York Times)

A federal judge on Saturday blocked oil and gas exploration on thousands of acres of federal land in Utah, saying that the Interior Department had not done sufficient environmental analysis.

Government Issues Draft Offshore Drilling Plan (Reuters)

The US Minerals Management Service has released an offshore drilling plan that calls for 31 energy exploration lease sales between 2010 and 2015 for areas on the US Outer Continental Shelf, including tracts along the East Coast and off the coasts of Alaska and California.

Wind Farm Off Cape Cod Clears Hurdle (New York Times)

A federal agency has ruled that the nation’s first offshore wind farm, proposed for the waters off Cape Cod, poses no serious environmental threat, bringing it a step closer to fruition.

Obama Sets Up National Network to Help Policy Agenda (Los Angeles Times)

Obama has announced the formation of an unprecedented grassroots political network, "Organizing for America," that will be used as a tool to press for policies, including the development of new energy sources.

Obama Ties Energy to Prosperity (Wall Street Journal)

Obama visited an Ohio wind turbine plant on Friday to make the case for his economic stimulus package, underscoring his push to link clean energy and jobs. The visit came as House Democrats unveiled a proposed stimulus that includes $54 billion for clean power and efficiency.

PUC OKs Minn. Power Lines for Big Stone II (Star Tribune)

Over 100 miles of power lines — the core of a four-year battle over the proposed Big Stone II coal plant on the South Dakota-Minnesota border — have been cleared for construction by Minnesota regulators. Green groups have indicated a likely appeal.

Study Warns of Threat to Coasts From Rising Sea Levels (New York Times)

Sea level rise fueled by global warming threatens the barrier islands and coastal wetlands of the Middle Atlantic States, a report by the EPA and the US Geological Survey has warned.

Feds to Order Mercury Control at Cement Plants (San Antonio Express-News)

The EPA has agreed to regulate toxic mercury emissions from existing cement plants, after fighting the idea for nearly a decade in court. It has until March to come up with regulations.

Russia and Ukraine Reach Gas Deal (AP)

Negotiations dragged into the early hours Sunday, but in the end the prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine announced a deal to settle the gas dispute that has drastically reduced supplies of gas to Europe for two weeks.