National briefs: Obama to push climate actions

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WASHINGTON -- Moving ahead on his own, President Barack Obama will announce a set of climate change actions today that will take years to implement.

The centerpiece of the plan is a push to issue new regulations that would curb greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants, according to people briefed on the plan by the administration.

Other components will include energy efficiency, renewable energy sources and help for communities preparing for the effects of climate change.

People briefed on his plan for existing plants said that rather than issue a specific new standard, Mr. Obama will announce he's directing his administration to work with states and interested parties to develop a cost-effective, flexible system that can curb emissions without costing so much as to create negative economic impacts.

Faster tax-exemption route

WASHINGTON -- Advocacy groups that have been delayed for more than 120 days can receive tax exemptions from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service if they agree to spend less than 40 percent of resources and volunteer hours on politics and more than 60 percent on activities promoting social welfare, said Danny Werfel, the tax agency's interim leader.

The IRS said it would send letters to about 80 groups offering a faster option, which would allow them to get their tax-exempt status within two weeks. They must make their time and spending calculations based on political activity, including public communications identifying a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary.

The IRS said it would send letters to about 80 groups offering a faster option, which would allow them to get their tax-exempt status within two weeks. They must make their time and spending calculations based on political activity.

Report on water, fracking

WASHINGTON -- A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania within a kilometer of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, showed methane concentrations six times greater, on average, than in wells farther away.

The gas occurs naturally in the area's aquifers. But the study showed the chemical composition of methane in wells near the drilling sites is the same as the natural gas extracted in the area.

Transgender-case ruling

DENVER -- Colorado officials say a suburban Colorado Springs school district discriminated against a 6-year-old transgender girl by preventing her from using the girls' bathroom, in what advocates described as the first such ruling in the next frontier in civil rights.

Coy Mathis' family raised the issue after school officials at Eagleside Elementary in Fountain said the first-grader could use restrooms in either the teachers' lounge or in the nurse's office, but not the girls' bathroom. Coy's parents feared she would be stigmatized and bullied.

Astronauts' spacewalk

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Two space station astronauts took care of a little outside maintenance Monday.

Russian flight engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin replaced a main valve on the International Space Station, after emerging from their 250-mile-high home.

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