Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Refrigerator Standards, Fracking Settlement, Lockheed Cleanup
The Department of Energy yesterday issued proposed energy efficiency standards for commercial refrigeration equipment and for walk-in coolers and freezers. The rules could cut energy bills by up to $28 billion and cut CO2 emissions by over 350 million metric tons over 30 years, the White House said.
Hydraulic fracturing fluids that entered a Kentucky creek in 2007 were likely the cause of widespread death or distress for fish, the US Geological Survey said, following a study with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The three species involved included the blackside dace, which is on a federal list of threatened species, Reuters reports.
Chesapeake Energy’s operating subsidiary and BHP Billiton have settled lawsuits by five Arkansas residents who claimed that fracking wastewater disposal wells caused earthquakes that damaged their homes. The settlement sum was not disclosed. Several similar suits against the companies remain active. Scientists found that disposal wells in Greenbrier, Arkansas, likely caused over 1,000 quakes in 2010 and 2011, Reuters reports.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is increasing its oversight of Northern States Power Co.’s Monticello nuclear plant in Monticello, Minn. The NRC said the company failed to maintain an appropriate plan to protect against a potential flooding event.
British manufacturers’ organization EEF has urged the UK government to reduce CO2 reduction goals, Point Carbon reports. The association says the targets will harm the country’s competitiveness by pushing up energy bills.
The California Air Resources Board has the authority to choose how to distribute carbon allowances, including through auctions, state judge Timothy Frawley said. The Chamber of Commerce alleged in a complaint last year that the board lacked this authority, and that carbon auctions were tantamount to an invalid tax or unconstitutional fee, Bloomberg reports.
The EPA has outlined its clean-up plan for the Lockheed West Superfund Site near Seattle, which Lockheed Martin must carry out at an estimated cost of $48.1 million. Cleanup activities will include dredging and disposing of sediments, and continuing a public advisory to publicize risks from eating contaminated seafood. Sediments are contaminated primarily with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, dioxins/furans, tributyltin (TBT), and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs).
Two Los Angeles-based consulting firms, MotorScience and MotorScience Enterprise, and their owner, Chi Zheng, have agreed to have a stipulated judgment entered against them for a $3.55 million civil penalty and to pay an additional $60,000 civil penalty within six months, to settle alleged Clean Air Act (CAA) violations stemming from the illegal import of 24,478 all-terrain, recreational vehicles into the U.S. from China without emissions testing, the EPA, California Air Resources Board and Department of Justice announced. MotorScience obtained EPA certificates of conformity for numerous vehicles without required testing, reusing results from a handful of vehicles, the agency says.
The MarkWest Javelina plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, will invest over $650,000 for facility operations improvements to reduce flaring and will pay a civil penalty of $97,500 to settle violations of the Clean Air Act, the EPA said. The settlement also requires the company to improve emission controls, improve operational reliability and establish a 24-hour hotline to answer any community questions about flaring events at the facility.
The Department of Transportation has launched new inspections of rail cars carrying crude oil from the Bakken formation, to verify that the oil is properly classified, the Hill reports. The operation was planned before the July derailment of rail cars hauling Bakken crude in Quebec, a disaster that killed 47 people.
US District Judge Carl Barbier rejected BP’s latest attempt to suspend settlement payments in the Gulf Coast oil spill case, while an investigation of the program takes place, the AP reports.
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