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WASHINGTON, June 3 (Reuters) - A federal judge has ruled that Tennessee's law restricting drag performances in public or where children were present was unconstitutional, striking a blow to efforts in U.S. states to regulate LGBTQ conduct. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in February had signed the bill passed by the state's assembly that aimed to restrict drag performances, putting the state at the forefront of a Republican-led effort to limit drag in at least 15 states in recent months. U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, ruled late on Friday that the law was "both unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad." "Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech," Parker said in the ruling. Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Additional reporting by Eric Beech and Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel WallisOur Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Persons: Bill Lee, District Judge Thomas Parker, Donald Trump, Parker, Timothy Gardner, Eric Beech, Jonathan Allen, Daniel Wallis Organizations: Republican, District, Human Rights, GLAAD, Thomson Locations: U.S, Tennessee, Memphis
WASHINGTON, May 31 (Reuters) - Eight U.S. companies developing nuclear fusion energy will receive $46 million in taxpayer funding to pursue pilot plants attempting to generate power from the process that fuels the sun and stars, the Department of Energy said on Wednesday. Generating more energy from fusion reaction than goes into it has eluded scientists for decades. The Energy Department's Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program hopes to help develop pilot-scale demonstration of fusion within a decade. The awardees are:-Commonwealth Fusion Systems-Focused Energy Inc-Princeton Stellarators Inc-Realta Fusion Inc-Tokamak Energy Inc-Type One Energy Group-Xcimer Energy Inc-Zap Energy IncThe funding, which comes from the Energy Act of 2020, is for the first 18 months. Looking to launch fusion plants that use lasers or magnets, private companies and government labs spent $500 million on their supply chains last year, according to a Fusion Industry Association (FIA) survey.
Persons: Harris, Jennifer Granholm, Timothy Gardner, Matthew Lewis Organizations: U.S, Department of Energy, Energy, Biden, Harris Administration, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Inc, Princeton Stellarators Inc, Tokamak Energy Inc, One Energy, Xcimer Energy, Fusion Industry Association, FIA, Thomson Locations: Washington
"Unfortunately, the White House moved backwards," McCarthy said, adding that the "socialist wing" of the Democratic Party appeared to be in control. McCarthy's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the White House statement. Democratic President Biden’s proposed 2024 budget and Republicans’ ‘Limit, Save, Grow’ Act will both generate budget savings over a decade, but how they will do so is starkly different. The source also said House Republicans want to extend tax cuts passed under former President Donald Trump, which would add $3.5 trillion to the federal debt. Congressional Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling three times, with no budget cut pre-conditions, when Republican President Donald Trump was in the White House.
May 20 (Reuters) - A transgender Mississippi girl declined to participate in high school graduation on Saturday after a U.S. District Judge said the school district could bar her unless she dressed in clothes required for boys, a lawyer for the girl said. The school district's dress code requires boys to wear a white button-down shirt, black dress plants, black shoes and a tie or bowtie. Mississippi lawmakers have introduced more than 30 bills this year seeking to limit rights of LGBTQ citizens. In 2021, Mississippi became the first U.S. state to ban transgender athletes from competing in women's and girl's sports, when Republican Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation. Efforts to reach the school district and Clark on Saturday were unsuccessful.
Washington quiet as debt ceiling deadline inches closer
  + stars: | 2023-05-20 | by ( )   time to read: +2 min
REUTERS/Nathan... Read moreWASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - White House and Republican congressional negotiators on raising the federal $31.4 trillion debt ceiling were quiet on Saturday after meetings on Friday failed and President Joe Biden said in Japan he believed a default could be avoided. Biden said in Japan late on Friday Washington time that he still believed a default could be avoided. Biden was upbeat despite the White House acknowledging that "serious differences" remained with Republicans, who control the House of Representatives. Democrats have been pushing to hold spending steady at this year's levels, while Republicans want to return to 2022 levels. A plan passed by the House last month would cut a wide swath of government spending by 8% next year.
Martin Amis, British writer of dark comedic novels, dies at 73
  + stars: | 2023-05-20 | by ( )   time to read: +2 min
[1/2] Novelist Martin Amis (L) talks to Tina Brown at the launch of Brown's book "The Diana Chronicles" at a party hosted by Reuters in the Serpentine Gallery in central London, June 18, 2007.... Read moreWASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - Martin Amis, a British writer of dark comedic novels, has died at the age of 73, his publisher said Saturday on Twitter. Penguin Books said Amis "leaves a towering legacy and an indelible mark on the British cultural landscape, and will be missed enormously." Amis died Friday at his home in Lake Worth, Florida, the New York Times reported earlier, quoting his wife, Isabel Fonseca, as saying the cause was esophageal cancer. He worked as an editor at The Times Literary Supplement and later the literary editor of The New Statesman. In a 2020 interview with the New York Times, Amis said "we read literature to have a good time.
Looking to master the fusion process using lasers or magnets, private companies and government labs spent $500 million on their supply chains last year, according to the Fusion Industry Association (FIA) survey. Andrew Holland, the head of FIA, said there is little concern about geopolitical supply risk in the supply chain as no critical parts or materials face global supply shortfalls or come only from unstable countries. "The biggest challenge honestly is just scale," Holland said. "We want to make sure the supply chain companies are aware that fusion is coming so they can make the investments to scale up." While there is a global lack of tritium, a fuel that many companies plan to use to fire fusion plants, Holland said that is not a concern because the companies plan to breed tritium in the fusion plants with the use of lithium.
"Right now, the permitting process for clean energy infrastructure, including transmission, is plagued by delays and bottlenecks. The White House is backing a bill by Manchin of West Virginia, who has grown more critical in recent months of the administration's attacks on the fossil fuel industry. The White House released a detailed fact sheet outlining reform measures its seeking, including helping clean energy projects like wind and solar get on the grid faster. Manchin's legislation sets a two-year limit on environmental reviews of major federal energy projects, including ones on fossil fuels and directs the president to designate at least 25 high-level energy projects and prioritize their permitting. The White House said it is using existing authorities to speed permitting of energy projects.
WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - Private U.S. nuclear fusion company Helion Energy will provide Microsoft (MSFT.O) with electricity in about five years, the companies said on Wednesday, in the first such deal for the power source that fuels the sun but has been elusive on Earth. Government labs and more than 30 companies are racing to generate power from fusion, which could one day help the world slash emissions linked to climate change. Helion's plant is expected to be online by 2028 and will target power generation of 50 megawatts or greater after a one-year ramp up period, it said. Polaris, Helion's seventh generation machine, should come online next year and demonstrate electricity generation, using a mix of laser and magnet technologies to achieve fusion, Kirtley said. In 2021, Helion was the first private company to achieve 100 million degrees Celsius and the optimum temperature is about twice that, Kirtley said.
WASHINGTON, May 10 (Reuters) - The House Judiciary Committee was set to consider a bill on Wednesday to pressure the OPEC oil production group to stop making output cuts that can result in higher fuel prices for U.S. drivers. The committee was expected to vote on the so-called No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels, or NOPEC, bill, which would change U.S. antitrust law to revoke the sovereign immunity that has protected OPEC+ members and their national oil companies from lawsuits over price collusion. Analysts were skeptical that the NOPEC bill would pass Congress while oil prices were relatively low as the market fears a recession. "House Judiciary Committee passage of NOPEC is more a biennial tradition than a sign of momentum," Rapidan Energy Group said in a note to clients. The committee has passed the bill in 2018, 2019 and 2021, Rapidan said.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the license authorizes private company Holtec to store 500 canisters holding nearly 8,700 metric tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants for 40 years. Opponents of nuclear power say the government does not yet have a permanent fix for the waste that can be toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. It bans storage of the waste, until the state agrees to handle it and until the federal government figures out permanent storage. The Biden administration prefers a consent-based siting of nuclear waste facilities in which local communities are involved in the site selection process. The NRC issued a license in 2021 to Interim Storage Partners LLC for a proposed storage site in Andrews, Texas, but the company has not started construction.
The country is planning to purchase Russian crude oil at a discount as high prices caused by geopolitical tensions have caused fuel prices to more than double in Pakistan. Pakistan Refinery Limited (PRL) will initially refine the Russian crude in a trial run, followed by Pak-Arab Refinery Limited (PARCO) and other refineries later. Pakistan is undertaking several measures, including raising fuel prices, to unlock a $1.1 billion tranche of aid from the International Monetary Fund. Fuel prices have jumped 143 rupees ($0.5046), or nearly 100%, in the last 12 months. Fuels including diesel became more expensive globally after Russia invaded Ukraine, which resulted in Western nations that consume large quantities of diesel imposing sanctions on Russian oil.
Republicans ask watchdog to assess US oil reserve management
  + stars: | 2023-05-08 | by ( )   time to read: +2 min
[1/2] The Bryan Mound Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an oil storage facility, is seen in this aerial photograph over Freeport, Texas, U.S., April 27, 2020. REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File PhotoWASHINGTON, May 8 (Reuters) - Two Republicans on Monday asked a congressional watchdog to assess the Biden administration's management of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and audit its modernization program, saying sales from the SPR have undermined U.S. energy security. Over about six months last year, the Biden administration conducted a record sale of 180 million barrels of oil to combat high gasoline prices after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The Biden administration wrote to lawmakers last month, saying the sales did not damage the SPR. The lawmakers said they were concerned about delays and cost overruns in the SPR modernization program authorized by Congress in 2015.
Westinghouse unveils small modular nuclear reactor
  + stars: | 2023-05-04 | by ( Timothy Gardner | )   time to read: +3 min
WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) - U.S. company Westinghouse unveiled plans on Thursday for a small modular reactor to generate virtually emissions-free electricity that could replace coal plants or power water desalinization and other industries. Small modular reactors (SMR) are meant to fit new applications such as replacing shut coal plants and being located in more remote communities. They noted that Russia took the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the site of repeated shelling. That year, former President Donald Trump's administration issued restrictions on exports of nuclear technology newer than the AP1000 due to nuclear proliferation concerns. Baranwal said if the U.S. government deems AP300 to be a subset of the earlier reactor technology "then we can start entertaining the possibilities" of exporting it to China.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks at the 2023 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., May 1, 2023. Senator Joe Manchin introduced on Tuesday his latest measure to speed permitting of both fossil fuel and renewable energy projects, as he tries to win support from both major parties after similar bills failed several times last year. The legislation, Building American Energy Security Act, sets a two-year limit on environmental reviews of major federal energy projects and one year for smaller ones, reduces court delays over energy projects, and directs the U.S. president to designate at least 25 high level energy projects and prioritize their permitting. And Republicans who were angry with Manchin for supporting President Joe Biden's climate legislation did not support his bill last year. And Manchin could get support from some Republicans in the Senate, currently controlled by Democrats, whose states would benefit from energy projects.
US confiscates Iran oil cargo on tanker amid Tehran tensions
  + stars: | 2023-04-28 | by ( )   time to read: +3 min
As oil markets remain jittery, the cargo seizure is the latest escalation between Washington and Tehran after years of sanctions pressure by the U.S. over Iran's nuclear program. Tehran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes while Washington suspects Iran wants to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran has previously responded tit-for-tat following seizures of Iranian oil cargo." Last year the U.S. tried to confiscate a cargo of Iranian oil near Greece, which prompted Tehran to seize two Greek tankers in the Gulf. In a step likely to exacerbate tensions, 12 U.S. senators on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to remove Treasury Department policy hurdles that have prevented the Department of Homeland Security from seizing Iranian oil shipments for more than a year.
REUTERS/Leah MillisWASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - As Iran's oil exports rise despite U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program, senators from both parties urged President Joe Biden to enable a federal government agency to seize Iranian oil and gas shipments. Senators Joni Ernst, a Republican, and Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said in a letter to Biden that the Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office has not been able to seize an Iranian oil shipment for more than a year. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian purposes while the United States suspects Tehran wants to develop a nuclear bomb by enriching uranium. Iran's oil exports have reached their highest level since the reimposition of U.S. sanctions in 2018, Iranian oil minister Javad Owji said last month. Last year the U.S. tried to confiscate a cargo of Iranian oil around Greece, which prompted Tehran to seize two Greek tankers in the Gulf.
Most new gas plants currently do not pay for emitting carbon, so the rules could make it harder for them to compete with solar and wind power. Second, the Inflation Reduction Act created tax credits making carbon capture and hydrogen more affordable and affirmed EPA's authority to regulate power plants. Existing technology can capture and store approximately 90% of carbon emissions, Lynch said. The EIA projected that this year, 54% of new generation (21GW) will be solar and 14% will be natural gas (7.5GW). Southern, which also runs the National Carbon Capture Center with the Department of Energy, said commercial deployment of carbon capture technology "is many years away" despite the cost-reduction potential of the Inflation Reduction Act.
REUTERS/Shannon StapletonCompanies Conocophillips FollowWASHINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Thursday approved exports of liquefied natural gas from the Alaska LNG project, a document showed, as the United States competes with Russia to ship natural gas from the Arctic to Asia. The Alaska LNG project includes a liquefaction facility on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska and a proposed 807-mile (1,300-km) pipeline to move gas stranded in northern Alaska across the state. The Biden administration modified the previous approval to prohibit venting of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide associated with the project into the atmosphere. The Biden administration last month approved the ConocoPhillips (COP.N) $7 billion Willow oil and gas drilling project on Alaska's North Slope. The Biden administration is trying to approve more U.S. LNG exports as it competes with Russia, traditionally one of the world's largest energy exporters.
WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Tuesday proposed new health protections to reduce exposure of U.S. workers and communities to ethylene oxide, a toxic, colorless gas mainly used to sterilize medical equipment and spices. The Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed rule with new requirements at 86 sterilizer facilities across the country, that if finalized, aims to reduce ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions by 80%. The proposed rule is part of President Joe Biden's initiative to cut the death rate from cancer and create new treatments to fight it. An EPA official told reporters that some facilities have already reduced use of EtO to appropriate levels while others use up to twice the proposed amount. The proposed rule will be open for a 60-day public comment period and the EPA aims to finalize it in 2024.
[1/4] Cars drive under a downed power pole in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico September 21, 2022. Puerto Rico has not typically been a large focus of U.S. energy chiefs. Colon covets the solar power Granholm offered, as it could also lower electricity bills, typically twice those on the mainland. Granholm said some 400,000 homes need rooftop solar but the $1 billion is only enough for up to 50,000 homes. Puerto Rico only generates about 3% of its electricity from renewables and the rest from fossil fuels.
WASHINGTON, March 27 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden would veto a Republican energy legislation package if it were to pass Congress, citing cost increases that the legislation could lead to, the White House said on Monday. 1 (Lower Energy Costs Act) would double the cost of energy efficiency upgrades that families need to reduce household bills and would repeal the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that will cut energy costs and boost economic development in rural and urban communities across the country," the White House said. Republicans plan to bring the legislation to the floor of the House of Representatives, where they hold a slim majority, for a vote this week, Representative Elise Stefanik, who chairs the House Republican Conference, said on Monday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said the House bill is "dead on arrival" in the Senate. But many senators want more moderate permitting legislation to expand the electricity transmission system and rapid build out of renewable power.
WASHINGTON, March 23 (Reuters) - It could take years for the United States to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the energy secretary told lawmakers on Thursday, after sales directed by President Joe Biden last year pushed the stockpile to its lowest level since 1983. "This year, it will be difficult for us to take advantage of this low price," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told U.S. representatives in a congressional hearing. Biden administration officials have said they want to refill the reserve, after last year's historic sale of 180 million barrels, when the oil price consistently is around $70 a barrel. Granholm said that sale and maintenance at two of the reserve's four sites will make it difficult to buy back oil this year. The SPR currently holds about 372 million barrels, the lowest since 1983, in hollowed-out salt caverns along the Gulf Coast.
REUTERS/Ronen ZvulunSummary Risk of accidents in focus as 'shadow' fleet growsStirs fears of oil spills, decades after Exxon ValdezHundreds of ships carry oil from sanctioned nationsMany ship certifiers and insurers have pulled servicesLONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - An oil tanker runs aground off eastern China, leaking fuel into the water. Many leading certification providers and engine makers that approve seaworthiness and safety have withdrawn their services from ships carrying oil from sanctioned Iran, Russia and Venezuela, as have a host of insurers, meaning there's less oversight of vessels carrying the flammable cargoes. Reuters was unable to independently verify the numbers regarding the size and growth of the shadow fleet. The U.S. Treasury didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on ships carrying sanctioned oil. SHIP-TO-SHIP TRANSFERSAround 774 tankers out of 2,296 in the overall global crude oil fleet are 15 years old or more, according to data provider VesselsValue.
Companies Conocophillips FollowWASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - Six environmental groups filed a lawsuit on Tuesday over the Biden administration's approval of ConocoPhillips' (COP.N) Willow oil and gas project in Alaska, which they claimed could be a stepping stone to more development in an ecologically sensitive region. Trustees for Alaska, the Alaska Wilderness League, the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and other groups said the U.S. Interior Department approved Willow on public lands on the north coast of the state despite acknowledging and failing to mitigate "known harms" to Arctic communities, public health, wildlife and climate. The Interior Department on Monday approved three drill pads for Willow after saying last month it was concerned about the greenhouse gas emissions. The Interior Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the suits.
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