Local & State
Duke Power sentencing
Duke Energy received a delay Tuesday in pleading guilty to environmental crimes by raising the specter that bureaucratic red tape could result in power being cut to military bases across North Carolina.
U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard approved a one-month delay in Duke’s plea and sentencing hearing for criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, which had been set for later this week.
The nation’s largest electricity company announced in February that it would admit guilt on nine misdemeanor counts and pay $102 million in fines and restitution over years of illegal pollution leaking from coal-ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants.
Duke’s lawyers said Tuesday the company needs a waiver from rules that bar corporations convicted of crimes from receiving or renewing federal contracts. Without the waiver, Duke said electrical service might be disrupted to military bases, post offices, courthouses, prisons and other federal facilities.
Meanwhile, federal regulators are holding met Tuesday to talk about their assessment of the Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina. Federal officials have said all three units at Oconee operated safely. Duke Energy runs the facility, and the NRC says the company corrected a crack in the weld on a safety system in one of the units.
Nation & World
Recalled Jeeps far from repaired
Nearly two years after agreeing to recall 1.56 million older Jeeps that could catch fire in rear-end crashes, safety regulators say Fiat Chrysler U.S. has repaired only 4 percent of the Grand Cherokees and 27 percent of the Libertys covered by the recall.
The Jeep repair rate of Fiat Chrysler U.S. is far below the average of 75 percent 11/2 years after a recall is announced, and it could set up another confrontation between Chrysler, which makes Jeeps, and the government.
Patent infringement bill a priority
Congress is expected to take up legislation this year that would make it tougher to claim patent infringement.
The bill has become a top lobbying priority this year for the tech industry, which says it repeatedly fends off frivolous lawsuits because of poorly written software patents and laws that favor patent holders.
▪ The nation’s largest tobacco companies are suing the Food and Drug Administration over recent guidelines that they claim overstep the agency’s authority over labeling and packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products.
▪ Olive Garden will put tabletop tablets in all 845 restaurants nationwide starting in May, letting customers order appetizers and drinks from the devices.
From Wire Reports.