Bush ending bid to ease coal rules

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is giving up on an eight-year effort to ease restrictions on pollution from coal-burning power plants, a key plank of its original energy agenda and one that put President Bush at odds with environmentalists during his entire tenure in the White House.

Bush had hoped to make changes to air-pollution regulations final before leaving office Jan. 20. Amid a coal-fired power-plant construction boom, the rules would have made it easier for energy companies to expand existing facilities and erect power plants in areas that meet air-quality standards.

But the Environmental Protection Agency conceded yesterday that it did not have enough time to complete the rules changes, which were undermined by a federal court ruling this year that scrapped a signature component of Bush's clean-air policies.

- AP

'Joe the Plumber' angry at McCain

TOLEDO, Ohio - "Joe the Plumber" now says that he was appalled by Republican presidential candidate John McCain's reasons for supporting the government's $700 billion bank-rescue plan, and that they nearly led him to abandon McCain.

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, 34, who became a household name in the campaign's final weeks, said he asked McCain why he voted for the bailout and was stunned by some of the answers. "I was angry," he told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday. "In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him."

Wurzelbacher, who endorsed McCain and joined him on the campaign trail, did not say exactly what set him off, hinting that would be in his forthcoming book. He had only praise for McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, saying, "She really wants to work for America."

- AP

Suit filed over Katrina spending

JACKSON, Miss. - Housing advocates and low-income residents sued yesterday to stop Mississippi from spending a half-billion federal dollars to expand a damaged port rather than replace homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The Mississippi State Conference NAACP, the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center, and residents sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in federal court in Washington.

Congressional leaders and others slammed HUD when it approved the state's plan to steer money to the Katrina-damaged port despite a lingering housing crisis caused by the 2005 storm. Gov. Haley Barbour maintains that expanding the state port at Gulfport is key to the region's economic recovery. HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan declined to comment.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Laura Bush said

yesterday that she would continue to work for human rights - especially women's rights in Afghanistan and Myanmar - when she leaves the White House next month. The first lady, in New York, addressed the Council on Foreign Relations.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

said yesterday that he was not interested in a 2012 Republican presidential bid and would seek a second term as governor in 2011.