Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Ontario Ditches Coal, Wind Farm Guilty in Bird Deaths
Ontario’s last coal-burning power plant is due to close in the next year, and premier Kathleen Wynne plans this week to introduce a bill, the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act, to ban coal in the province entirely. Wynne hosted Al Gore at a public event to celebrate the ahead-of-schedule closure of two coal plants, Lambton and Atikokan, and the upcoming closure of the Nanticoke Generating Station.
Duke Energy Renewables agreed to pay $1 million in fines after pleading guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act at two wind farms in Wyoming, the New York Times reports. In the Justice Department’s first criminal case against a wind power developer for the deaths of protected birds, the department charged Duke with killing 14 golden eagles and dozens of other birds at the wind farms since 2009. Duke will pay the fines to conservation groups and the state of Wyoming.
China will launch pilot carbon trading programs this week in Beijing and Shanghai, joining one already operating in Shenzhen, Reuters reports. These initial trading systems will have no binding caps on emissions, but are expected to include some of the nation’s biggest companies, including Sinopec, Baoshan Iron and Steel, coal firm Shenhua Group and utility Huaneng.
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman announced an $8.05 million settlement with ExxonMobil, which will reimburse the state for costs incurred by the New York Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund to investigate and remediate the Lighthouse Point oil spill site in Ogdensburg. The spill was discovered in 2001, with cleanup from 2006 to 2007.
Oil well service company AllenCo has suspended operations at its oil and gas pumping facility in the University Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, and says it has hired engineering and environmental consultants to improve its operations. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called for the suspension earlier this month after learning that local residents had reported chemical odors and severe health problems.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the construction permit for Unit 2 of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant, until September 30, 2016. If completed, the unit would be a 1,100-MWe, Westinghouse-designed pressurized water reactor essentially the same as the operating Unit 1, the NRC says.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is inviting regulated shippers and carriers, as well as emergency responders and law enforcement, to participate in a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of paperless hazard communications systems.
The EPA has proposed issuing a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permit for oil and gas geotechnical surveying and related activities in federal waters of Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
The Defense Department unveiled its first strategy for protecting US security and promoting international cooperation in the Arctic, The Hill reports. Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the diminishing ice cap and growing economic activities in the region make the Arctic a “strategic inflection point.”
Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced a bill to block EPA regulations requiring fire hydrants to use lead-free pipes, starting January 4, The Hill reports. The EPA says the guidance on fire hydrants, interpreting the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, is necessary because fire hydrants are used for drinking water in emergency situations. But Johnson said lead-free fire hydrants are not commercially available, and the ruling would cause an immediate shortage of hydrants.
The EPA is deleting the Columbus Old Municipal Landfill #1 Superfund Site, in Bartholomew County, Ind., from the National Priorities List. The agency determined that all appropriate response actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), other than operation, maintenance, and five-year reviews, have been completed.
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