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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, EU ETS, MATS, MACT, 2012 CGP

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, an effort to reduce black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and methane. The new coalition is the first effort to treat the pollutants together and work on national action plans and policy priorities as a collective challenge. Founding partners are Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, and the U.S., with the UN Environment Programme, the State Department said.

The European Parliament have agreed to wording ahead of a February 28 vote that is expected to increase pressure on the Commission to withdraw carbon allowances in order to boost prices on the EU ETS. The compromise text does not specify how many carbon allowances might be withheld but calls on the Commission to amend regulation on auctioning carbon permits, Reuters reports.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced plans to force a Senate vote this spring on killing MATS, the new EPA rules to curb emissions of mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants. Inhofe filed the resolution under the Congressional Review Act that allows Congress to upend federal regulations, but has been used successfully just once, The Hill said.

The Department of Interior said that natural-gas drillers will be required to inspect their wells after hydraulic fracturing on public land to ensure the safety of drinking-water supplies. The agency will propose standards for disclosure of the chemicals injected underground to free trapped gas and for procedures to test that the well isn’t leaking after fracking, Bloomberg reports.

Congressional negotiators reached a compromise agreement to extend the payroll tax cut does not include a provision to delay and dampen EPA boiler pollution regulations (MACT). The final deal also does not include provisions to extend wind power production tax credits past 2012, The Hill said.

The House passed a bill – Protecting Investment in Oil Shale, the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy and Resource Security (PIONEERS) Act, H.R. 3408 – that seeks to promote oil shale development, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as language requiring the Keystone permit, The Hill said.

Bipartisan legislation, the Smart Energy Act, introduced in the House would target the federal government’s energy usage and provide more opportunities for private industry. Some provisions include increased use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) by federal agencies instead of the standard appropriations process, and the development of a strategic plan for combined heat and power and waste heat recovery electricity production, writes Power Engineering.

The EPA is issuing a new Clean Water Act construction permit that will speed permitting to construction operators while maintaining supervision of stormwater discharges from construction sites. The 2012 construction general permit (CGP) replaces the existing 2008 CGP, and includes updates intended to limit erosion, minimize pollution sources, and further restrict discharges to areas impaired by previous pollution discharge, the EPA said.

Two bills introduced in the House would prevent natural gas exports in order to keep domestic prices low, and include measures to block natural gas export terminals until 2025; to prevent exports of natural gas drilled on federal lands; and to ban pipelines crossing federal lands from carrying natural gas destined for export, Reuters reports.

A $10 million multi-party agreement with the Bradley Mining Company, the Worthen Bradley Family Trust, the Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians, and government agencies settles cleanup costs for seven mining sites in three states. Under the settlement, the Elem Indian Colony will receive approximately 380 acres of uncontaminated land and nearly $7 million in federal funds will be used to reimburse EPA’s costs for cleaning up contamination, the EPA said.

The EPA is investigating whether 7,600 Navistar International engines partially manufactured in 2009 were properly certified under the Clean Air Act. Each potential violation carries a fine of up to $37,500 — or about $285 million total. Navistar said that it firmly believes the 2010 transition was appropriate, writes Fleet Owner.

The EPA has issued cease and desist administrative orders to two chicken broiler facilities in Lincoln Parish, La., for discharging chicken litter into a tributary of the Dugdemona River. In January, the EPA inspected the Mike Reeves 1 and Beaver Creek Farm and found unauthorized discharges, Environmental Protection writes.

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