Policy & Enforcement Briefing: RGGI Emissions Limits, Pesticide Ban
Preliminary findings of a federal study into fracking show no evidence that chemicals from a western Pennsylvania drilling operation contaminated drinking water aquifers. The AP describes this as the first independent study into whether the chemicals from normal drilling operations pose a threat to people.
Federal judge Carl Barbier dismissed BP’s attempt to suspend payments to companies and people claiming damages from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The oil giant says many claims have not been properly evaluated, but Barbier says there is no evidence of this, Reuters reports.
The EPA named Janet McCabe as interim chief for the Office of Air and Radiation, replacing Gina McCarthy, who was confirmed as EPA administrator last week. McCabe was McCarthy’s deputy in the office, and before joining the agency in 2009, ran health advocacy organization Improving Kids’ Environment. She could be a contender to take the chief role permanently, though the job requires Senate confirmation, the Hill reports.
Officials in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Maryland and Delaware are putting regulations in place to lower the 2014 emissions limit for the region from 165 million to 91 million tons, as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program. The RGGI’s September auction will reflect the reduced number of allowances. The RGGI is also planning a 2.5 percent cut in emissions each year from 2015 to 2020, the AP reports.
The pesticide Fipronil will be banned for use on corn and sunflowers in Europe from the end of 2013, after a vote by member states, in a move designed to boost honeybee populations. Only Spain and Romania voted against the ban, and only the UK, Slovakia and the Czech Republic abstained. The agriculture sector uses Fipronil on more than 100 crops in over 70 countries, the Guardian reports.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a regulatory conference with officials of NextEra Energy today to discuss a preliminary inspection finding, which found that the Point Beach nuclear plant in Two Rivers, Wis., did not have the appropriate procedure in place to respond to an external flooding situation. The finding did not represent an immediate safety concern, the NRC said.
Eastern Bus Company will pay a $35,000 penalty as part of a settlement for excessive school bus idling in several Massachusetts towns, the EPA said. Under the agreement, Eastern will install automatic idle shut-off controls on all buses by September 1. It will also post anti-idling signs, enhancing driver training and increasing supervision in school bus lots.
Perma-Fix Northwest Richland, a contract handler of radioactive and mixed (radioactive and hazardous) waste from the Department of Energy’s Hanford Reservation and other sources, has agreed to pay a $187,620 penalty and improve waste handling practices, as part of a settlement with the EPA. The agency says Perma-Fix stored mixed waste in an unpermitted area for three years, though regulations only allow three months.
A Florida man and his companies will pay over $2.4 million in criminal and civil fines, and agree a number of corrective actions, under a federal court decision and four settlements. Brian Raphael D’Isernia and his company Lagoon Landing were sentenced in federal court for illegal dredging and felony wetlands violations in Panama City, Fla. The EPA says D’Isernia and Lagoon Landing dredged a ship launching basin and channel, and altered and filled wetland areas, all without permits. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection also reached settlements with D’Isernia and his wife and with his companies Northwest Florida Holdings, Bay Fabrication and Peninsula Holdings.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a full committee hearing tomorrow on the nominations of Kenneth Kopocis to be assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, James Jones to be assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, and Avi Garbow to be general counsel for the EPA.
Tomorrow and Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing titled “Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Stakeholder Perspectives.” The hearing will feature testimony from fuel users, developers, farming groups and environmental groups, with witnesses representing the American Petroleum Institute, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Renewable Fuels Association, Advanced Biofuels Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, Growth Energy, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, AAA, National Corn Growers Association and National Council of Chain Restaurants, among others.
Also on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subpanel on oversight and investigations will hold a hearing titled “Department of Energy Oversight: What is Necessary to Improve Project Management and Mission Performance?” The subcommittee will examine energy secretary Ernest Moniz’s plans for improving the agency.
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