News bites: BP complains about spill payments, climate change causes extreme rain, and more

A state lawmaker has offered a resolution that would block Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations in Kentucky.

“Senate Energy and Environment Committee Chairman Brandon Smith said Wednesday the EPA has put Kentucky's economic security and thousands of jobs at risk. Smith, a Republican from the coalfield town of Hazard, is sponsoring a resolution that would declare Kentucky a ‘sanctuary state’ out of reach of the EPA. He said the intent is to send a clear message to the Obama administration that the EPA needs to stop penalizing an industry that employs some 18,000 Kentuckians," Bloomberg reports.

But don’t worry, EPA has no plans to regulate spilled milk.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will exempt bulk milk tanks from oil spill regulations, agency officials told Rep. William L. Owens on Tuesday,” according to New York's Watertown Daily Times.

“Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said he was assured in a meeting with EPA Region 2 officials that the agency will exempt milk tanks on farms when final rules are issued this spring. An exemption would put to rest dairy groups' complaints that even modest-sized farms could be forced to create spill response plans.”

Climate change will result in extreme rain and snow, new research says.

USA Today says: “While other studies have suggested that global warming may be partly responsible for an increase in heavy precipitation, what's new in this study is the formal finding that human influence has ‘likely made intense precipitation stronger, on average, over the second half of the 20th century,’ says study co-author Francis Zwiers of the University of Victoria in British Columbia.”

Environmentalists are setting their sights on natural gas.

“As the fuel grows in market share and political power, several green groups have launched campaigns highlighting potential problems. They raise questions about everything from how natural gas is extracted to how much of a climate benefit it offers over competitors,” Greenwire reports.

A new Commerce Department report touts small modular reactors, or “mini-nukes,” as a major job creator. The report comes as the Obama administration’s fiscal 2012 budget includes more than $800 million to conduct research into the technology, which Republicans in Congress have long touted.

Bloomberg has more: “The Obama administration’s plan to develop a new generation of small nuclear reactors may spur U.S. manufacturing jobs and exports, the Commerce Department said.

“Building ‘small modular reactors,’ about a third the size of the nuclear units now used by power companies, may provide ‘tremendous new commercial opportunities for U.S. firms and workers,’ the department’s International Trade Administration said today in a report.”

The Chinese government continues its effort to block illegal rare-earth mining in the country.

“Premier Wen Jiabao of China and his cabinet decided Wednesday to 'streamline' the country’s rare earth industry by consolidating production, clamping down on illegal mining and clearly deciding which government agencies would oversee it, the government said,” according to The New York Times.