Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Fracking Diesel, GM Corn, Fukushima
The EPA yesterday released revised underground injection control permitting guidance, along with an interpretative memorandum, for fracking wells that use diesel fuels. EPA developed the guidance to clarify how companies can comply with a law passed by Congress in 2005, which exempted hydraulic fracturing operations from the requirement to obtain a UIC permit, except in cases where diesel fuel is used as a fracturing fluid.
The EU is on the verge of approving the genetically modified corn Pioneer 1507, jointly developed by Dupont and Dow Chemical, after opponents failed to rally enough support to block authorization. The variety is set to be the third GM crop authorized for cultivation in the EU, the New York Times reports.
Mary Landrieu has been confirmed as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The EDF and National Audubon Society described Landrieu as a “champion for restoration of the Mississippi River Delta,” who helped ensure that Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill will go back to the states for restoration.
Ed Markey has been appointed to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Markey served in the House for over 36 years and was a leading voice in favor of climate legislation, the Boston Globe reports.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to extend the priority treatment of propane shipments to consumers in the Midwest and Northeast by one week, through February 21, in response to an agreement reached between Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Company and the National Propane Gas Association. The priority treatment, invoked February 7 to alleviate a propane shortage from severe cold weather, was FERC’s first use of its emergency authority.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka has criticized Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, for incorrectly measured radiation levels. Tepco last week said groundwater tested in July contained a record 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium-90, more than five times actual levels, Reuters reports.
A group of 79 Americans who served in the 2011 tsunami relief operation Tomadachi filed an amended $1 billion class action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power in US federal court on February 6. The suit claims Tepco failed to disclose that the failure at the Fukushima nuclear power plant dealt heavy radiation doses to the USS Ronald Reagan, Ecowatch reports.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is investigating an explosion and fire at a fracking well about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. One worker was injured and another is still missing after Tuesday morning’s blast. A DEP spokesman said this was the first serious well explosion in the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania, the Charleston Gazette reports.
The US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is holding a hearing today on “Extreme Weather Events: The Costs of Not Being Prepared.” Scheduled witnesses include officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Government Accountability Office, as well as Lindene Patton, chief climate product officer at Zurich Insurance Group.
China announced a 10 billion yuan ($1.65 billion) fund that will give companies rewards for reducing air pollution, Reuters reports. The “incentives” would replace subsidies, Premier Li Keqiang said, but he did not provide details. Meanwhile, vice-environment minister Zhai Qing said his ministry last year vetoed as many as 32 projects with a total price tag of 118.4 billion yuan ($19.5 billion). But the ministry’s powers are limited, with fines far below the cost of compliance.
The California Air Resources Board on Monday released an updated plan showing how it plans to meet a goal of an 80 percent cut in GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 2050. The ARB said all sectors, from agriculture to waste management, need to do more to control emissions, Reuters said.
The US Geological Survey and the Interior Department have released the first publicly available interactive map showing locations and technical specifications for more than 47,000 onshore wind turbines across the US. The data will help scientists study potential impacts on wildlife, the USGS said.
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