Nation in brief: Offshore drilling plan delayed

The Obama administration put the brakes Tuesday on a push to expand oil and gas drilling off America’s coasts and promised to speed development of offshore wind farms.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced he will extend public comments for six months on a last-minute proposal by the Bush administration to open swaths of the California, Alaska, Atlantic and Gulf coasts for drilling.

He also ordered Interior Department staff to compile data on the potential benefits from oil, gas and renewable development offshore and pledged public hearings on drilling, including one to be held on the Pacific Coast.


Peanut company closes second plant

A second peanut processing plant owned by the company at the heart of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness has been shut down after the bacteria were discovered in peanut products there.

Peanut Corporation of America shuttered its Plainview, Texas, plant Monday night at the request of state health officials, said Doug McBride, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services. The action came after laboratory results from samples taken on Feb. 4 of roasted peanuts, peanut meal and granulated peanuts were positive for salmonella.

Additional analysis is needed to confirm the contamination and determine if it is the same type of salmonella linked to the current outbreak, McBride said.

Texas officials believe none of the contaminated product reached consumers, McBride said.

Juneau, Alaska

Attorney general resigns after probe

Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg, who defended Republican Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration in the “Troopergate” abuse-of-power investigation, resigned Tuesday in what he said was the “best interest” of the state.

The move came less than a week after an acrimonious showdown with the state Legislature, which found the governor’s husband and nine top administration aides in contempt over their delay in responding to subpoenas in the investigation.

Colberg’s resignation appeared to close a bruising chapter in Alaska politics that began when Palin fired public safety commissioner Walt Monegan in July. The firing prompted the Legislature to investigate whether Monegan’s dismissal was linked to his refusal to fire an Alaska state trooper who had been involved in a contentious divorce with the governor’s sister.

Several legislators complained that Colberg acted improperly by advising the governor’s husband, Todd Palin, and administration aides that they were not necessarily required to comply with the subpoenas.

From wire reports

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