National briefs (1/4/13)
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Congress wants probe of oil rig
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Calls for federal scrutiny of Royal Dutch Shell PLC drilling operations in Arctic waters swelled Thursday with a request for a formal investigation by members of Congress.
The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition called on the Interior Department and the Coast Guard to jointly investigate the New Year's Eve grounding of the Shell drill vessel Kulluk on a remote Gulf of Alaska Island, and a previous incident connected to Arctic offshore drilling operations in 2012.
The coalition is made up of 45 House Democrats.
"The recent grounding of Shell's Kulluk oil rig amplifies the risks of drilling in the Arctic," they said in a joint statement.
Pipeline oil spills
BILLINGS, Mont. -- Pipeline spills caused by flooding and riverbed erosion dumped 2.4 million gallons of crude oil and other hazardous liquids into U.S. waterways over the past two decades.
The Department of Transportation report to Congress was crafted in response to a 2011 spill into Montana's Yellowstone River. The spill highlighted concerns about federal pipeline rules that require lines to be buried just 4 feet below riverbeds -- scant cover that can quickly be scoured away by floodwaters.
Of the 2.4 million gallons of oil, gasoline, propane and other hazardous liquids released, less than 300,000 gallons was recovered.
Geithner may resign soon
WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner plans to leave the administration at the end of January, even if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans haven't reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Geithner, 51, is the only remaining member of Mr. Obama's original economic team and was a key figure in the taxpayer- funded bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis. He's also had a principal role in negotiations with Congress on the budget deal and in past deliberations over the debt ceiling.
White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew remains the leading contender for the Treasury job.
Rare Martian rock found
LOS ANGELES -- Scientists are abuzz about a coal-colored rock from Mars that landed in the Sahara desert: A yearlong analysis revealed it's quite different from other Martian meteorites.
Not only is it older than most, it also contains more water, tests showed. The baseball-size meteorite, estimated to be 2 billion years old, is strikingly similar to the volcanic rocks examined on the Martian surface by the NASA rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which found water-bearing minerals.
"Here we have a piece of Mars that I can hold in my hands. That's really exciting," said Carl Agee, director of the Institute of Meteoritics and curator at the University of New Mexico, who led the study published online Thursday in the journal Science.
1st grader suspended
WASHINGTON -- The parents of a 6-year-old boy are fighting the first-grader's suspension from a public school in Montgomery County, Md., for pointing his finger like a gun and saying "pow," an incident school officials characterized in a disciplinary letter as a threat "to shoot a student."
The first-grader was suspended for one day, Dec. 21. The family's attorney filed an appeal Wednesday, asking that the incident be expunged from the boy's school record amid concerns of long-term fallout.
-- Compiled from news services
First Published January 4, 2013 12:00 am