State headlines - April 18




US delays review of Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL pipeline before deciding whether to issue a permit.

That could push a decision about the controversial oil pipeline until after the midterm elections in November.

The State Department is citing a recent decision by a Nebraska judge that overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline's path through the state. The State Department says that created uncertainty and ongoing litigation.

The government is not saying how much longer the review will take. But it says the process isn't starting over.

The pipeline has become a politically fraught issue. Republicans criticize President Barack Obama for taking too long to decide. The State Department has jurisdiction because the pipeline would cross the border between the U.S. and Canada.


Fallin questioned repercussions in custody dispute

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Email correspondence shows that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin sought to speak with advisers about repercussions with the Cherokee Nation as she considered intervening in a custody dispute involving a Cherokee girl.

Veronica was in the center of a custody battle between her biological father, Cherokee Nation member Dusten Brown, and her adopted parents.

The email correspondence was among thousands of pages released to The Associated Press on Friday under an open-records request about the case.

The correspondence included news articles about the case, strategy between the governor and her advisers and emails from constituents.

Fallin had signed an extradition order for Brown to face a criminal charge for refusing to hand over Veronica.

But Brown ultimately handed the child over to her adopted parents and the extradition order was dropped.

 

Oklahoma unemployment rate hits 5-year low

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's unemployment rate has fallen to a five-year low, dropping below 5 percent for the first time since 2008.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported Friday that the state's unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent in March, down from 5 percent in February. With the help of a booming oil and natural gas industry, Oklahoma's unemployment rate remains well below the national average of 6.7 percent.

The OESC reports about 89,400 Oklahomans were unemployed in March.

The state's seasonally adjusted nonfarm employment grew by about 2,100 jobs last month, with most of the gains coming in the educational and health services sector. The only sector to report job losses in March was government, which shed about 1,700 jobs.


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