Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Obama Climate Order, DuPont Penalty, Hurricane Sandy Deception
President Obama is due to sign an executive order today that would help states and cities to include climate resilience considerations when they spend federal money on roads, bridges, flood control and other infrastructure projects, the New York Times reported. The White House is also setting up a task force to advise it on climate adaptation. So far six governors – all Democrats – have agreed to join, as well as local leaders of both parties.
GC Environmental, based in Bay Shore, Long Island, will pay a $40,000 penalty for deceptive practices that it used to solicit business from victims of Hurricane Sandy, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced. Within weeks of the storm, the company mailed nearly 2,300 letters, appearing to be official State Department of Environmental Conservation notices of violation, to property owners who had suffered petroleum spills, Schneiderman said. The letters warned the spills could result in DEC penalties of up to $25,000 per day, and offered GC’s oil cleanup services in order to avoid the penalties.
The mayor of Kauai County, Hawaii, has vetoed a bill that would have restricted the use of pesticides by companies developing genetically modified organisms. Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., said he agreed with the intent of the bill, passed last month. But he said the legislation was legally flawed, and he therefore had no choice but to veto, the New York Times reports.
DuPont has agreed to pay an $800,000 civil penalty to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations at its Washington Works Facility in West Virginia, under a proposed settlement with the state and the federal government. DuPont must also implement safeguards to limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants, including formaldehyde, methanol and acetal. DuPont’s violations include failure to monitor pumps, valves, and connectors, calibrate monitoring equipment and conduct required pressure tests, the EPA said.
Over a third of the House of Representatives – 169 members – signed a letter to Gina McCarthy calling on the EPA to cut the ethanol requirement under the 2014 renewable fuel standard, The Hill reported. The signatories said the current mandate is unrealistic.
Interior secretary Sally Jewell issued an order on energy development on public lands that she said would add certainty and clarity to the process, The Hill reported. In a speech at the National Press Club yesterday, Jewell also said that President Obama will use executive powers to protect more mountains, rivers and forests from development if he is unsatisfied with Congress’s actions, Reuters reports.
The US government will start publishing annual reports on how much it spends on fossil fuel subsidies, The Hill reports. The White House made the commitment as part of a wider “open government” pledge announced yesterday.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management director Tommy Beaudreau is expected to take over the Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy, Management and Budget from Rhea Suh, whom President Obama has tapped for assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, FuelFix reports. Beaudreau is also acting assistant secretary of Land and Minerals Management.
A bipartisan group of senators has written to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, and Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality, to voice concern over the Obama administration’s s draft National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Guidance on Consideration of the Effects of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The senators, including David Vitter (R-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Barrasso (R-WY), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and James Inhofe (R-OK), said the proposal would add more bureaucracy to the export of American products, especially coal.
Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $58,570 under a consent agreement and final order with the EPA, to resolve violations involving 820 barrels of crude oil released on Sept. 23, 2012, in Ouachita County, Ark., the agency said. The release impacted Smackover Creek and adjoining shorelines.
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