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NRC:

Leadership scramble starts as chairwoman steps down

The nation's nuclear regulatory agency is once again facing leadership uncertainty after its chairwoman announced yesterday she would step down at year's end. Allison Macfarlane announced yesterday she plans to step down to serve as director of the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University, cutting short her current five-year term, slated to end June 30, 2018.

LOBBYING:

Koch Industries' spending surges

Koch Industries has amped up its lobbying spending in 2014. The company has spent nearly $9.5 million on its advocacy operations so far this year, according to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the Senate. That's a significant hike from the almost $8 million that the oil and gas giant spent on lobbying at this point last year and comes with the company dropping $4 million on K Street efforts during this past quarter alone -- a surge from the $2.7 million that Koch spent in each of the year's previous quarters.

EMISSIONS:

Researchers find record leaks of methane from oil shale boom areas

Oil and gas basins in North Dakota and East Texas leaked around 10 percent of natural gas they produced to the atmosphere between 2006 and 2011. Natural gas is composed primarily of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that exacerbates climate change. The leakage rate in the study is the largest reported so far for the energy industry, and it challenged the industry's and U.S. EPA's perception of operations as relatively clean.

CAMPAIGN 2014:

In the epicenter of energy's transformation, a Democrat pushes a message beyond coal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The infectious energy the Democratic candidate for West Virginia's open Senate seat, Natalie Tennant, brings to her campaign is mired in the politics of coal, where state Republicans characterize the presidency of Barack Obama as singularly responsible for Appalachia's declining coal fields and the nation's shifting energy portfolio. It's in this arena where Tennant faces an almost impossible uphill climb toward the Nov. 4 election. Ideas about expanding economic growth outside the coal business are overwhelmed by the deluge of debate about which candidate supports coal miners the most. The state has bled jobs in its southern coal-producing counties.

PUBLIC LANDS:

Sportsmen seek room for wildlife amid drilling push

PICEANCE CREEK, Colo. -- When Bill Wille went hunting in the Piceance Basin in the 1980s, it wasn't long before he bagged a trophy buck. Mule deer then were plentiful in the Piceance Creek Basin between Rangely, Meeker and Rifle, numbering upward of 30,000 animals. A license to hunt deer in these rugged mountains of pinyon and juniper trees could be purchased over the counter. But these days, mule deer numbers are only half as large, and hunters wait years to draw a tag to shoot one.

SAFETY:

'That stuff can get you so fast' -- deadly gas on the rise in oil fields

ODESSA, Texas -- Elaine Beadle initially thought the odor creeping into her home on this city's west side was a sewer leak. It started about the time she moved in four years ago -- a smell like rotten eggs. Sometimes it got so bad her eyes burned. She soon learned the real source: a tank battery that collects oil and gas from wells scattered throughout the vacant land and small homes near the intersection of University Drive and Loop 338.

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