News bites: Auto mileage deal nears, debt stalemate hits oil prices, Chu takes reins of ‘fracking’ plans, and more

The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration is nearing a deal with automakers to boost fuel economy rules for 2017-2025.

The looming agreement would soften an earlier target.

“Officials familiar with talks between the White House and automakers say recent changes to make it easier for light trucks to become more fuel efficient have lowered the proposal to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Last month, the administration floated a 56.2 mile-per-gallon target,” AP reports.

The debt-ceiling battle is sapping oil prices.

“Oil fell on Wednesday as wrangling over the U.S. debt limit unnerved investors and sent them fleeing from assets perceived to be dependent on growth,” Reuters reports.

Green activist Tim DeChristopher has been sentenced to two years behind bars after he interfered with a 2008 oil-and-gas lease sale in Utah.

“The incarceration of the burgeoning folk hero among climate activists set off anger inside the courtroom and a concerted protest outside that ended in more than two dozen arrests,” The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

ClimateWire reports that Energy Secretary Steven Chu is leading federal efforts to tackle environmental concerns about the natural-gas drilling method called “hydraulic fracturing,” even though his agency doesn’t have a regulatory stick to wield.

The Guardian reports on the growth of offshore wind power in the U.K.