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Waukesha County culvert extension project threatens Butler’s garter snake

Madison (AP) — State wildlife officials say a road project in Waukesha County might end up killing a rare snake.

The Department of Natural Resources is considering allowing the possibility that a Butler’s garter snake might be killed during construction of a culvert extension in the town of Lisbon. The snake is listed on the DNR’s threatened list.

State law requires the agency inform the public when it considers allowing a threatened or endangered species to be killed. The agency reports the project won’t jeopardize the overall recovery of the snake.

The agency will take public comments on the proposal through Aug. 18.

Former Department of Natural Resources chief files for attorney general race

Madison (AP) — Former state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Hassett has filed paperwork to set up a run for attorney general.

Hassett filed a campaign registration statement with state election officials Thursday. Hassett has yet to officially declare his candidacy, but the statement lets him raise campaign money. Incumbent Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, faces re-election next year.

Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, appointed Hassett as DNR secretary in 2003. Hassett resigned in 2007 and has kept a low profile since. He showed up at the Democrats’ state convention last month drumming up support for an attorney general run.

Wispirg calls for more stimulus spending information to be posted on state sites

Wisconsin’s stimulus reporting Web site is better than most states’, but it should be upgraded to include the contractors that win projects as well as copies of their contracts, according to Wispirg Foundation Inc.

“The whole idea here is to centralize the information,” said Bruce Speight, advocate for Wispirg, a Madison-based advocacy organization. “Make it simple so the average citizen doesn’t have to jump between 20 Web sites.”

The Wisconsin stimulus Web site, www.recovery.wisconsin.gov, lists state agencies that received money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and outlines what the money will be spent on.

Speight said the site also should show how many jobs are being created from projects receiving stimulus money.

“This is a part of giving citizens easier and better access to the public decisions that are being made with our tax dollars,” he said.

Drop in demand lets Beijing close coal plants in environmental move

Beijing (AP) — China has taken advantage of a drop in electricity demand due to the global financial crisis to speed up a campaign to close small, coal-fired power plants and improve its battered environment, an official said Thursday.

Authorities have closed power plants with a total of 7,467 generating units, meeting a previously announced goal 18 months ahead of schedule, said Sun Qin, deputy administrator of the Cabinet’s National Energy Administration.

Beijing is trying to improve its energy efficiency and reduce surging demand for imported oil and gas by closing smaller, less-efficient power plants and encouraging use of wind, solar and other clean sources.

Australian prime minister vows to create 50,000 ‘green’ jobs and apprenticeships

Sydney (AP) — Australia’s prime minister promised Thursday to create 50,000 “green” jobs and apprenticeships to combat climate change and unemployment simultaneously.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has prioritized environmental legislation this year even as his government forecast that Australian unemployment would rise to 8.5 percent next year from the current 5.8 percent because of the global downturn.

The “green” jobs package includes 30,000 apprentice positions that offer training in environmental building practices, such as installing solar energy panels and water recycling systems and retrofitting homes to be more energy efficient.

The program will also create 10,000 positions in a national Green Jobs Corps that will provide environmental training for unemployed people between 18 and 24 and employ them in public works projects, such as planting trees and restoring walking tracks. Money also would be poured into another 10,000 jobs that encourage sustainability and green building practices.

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