Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Sulfur in Gasoline, Pebble Mine, Refrigerator Efficiency
The EPA plans to unveil major regulations today to force oil refiners to remove sulfur from gasoline blends, a rule that President Obama asked for in 2010, the New York Times reports. The agency says the cleaner gasoline would contribute $6.7 billion to $19 billion a year in economic benefits, while raising the cost of gasoline by about two-thirds of one cent per gallon, but oil refiners say it will raise gas prices by up to 9 cents per gallon.
The EPA said on Friday it will use a rare regulatory process under the Clean Water Act to block construction of the Pebble mine in Alaska, Reuters reports. The review process will include a new consultation period, public hearings and more consultations with the US Army Corps of Engineers and mine developer Northern Dynasty Minerals. Last month an EPA assessment concluded that large-scale mining in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed, where the mine would be built, poses risks to salmon and Alaska Native cultures.
North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources plans to cite Duke Energy for two violations of environmental standards related to last month’s coal ash spill into the Dan River, the New York Times reports. But the paper also outlines a deal between the agency and utility, reached last year, to limit the company’s clean-up obligations.
Sen. Rob Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter Friday to energy secretary Ernest Moniz, expressing concern about giant nuclear waste storage tanks that have shown construction problems, the New York Times reports. The tanks, at the DOE’s Hanford site in Washington state, show some of the same issues as a tank that began leaking in 2012, according to documents that Wyden released.
House Republicans are planning votes this week on three bills to limit environmental regulation, E&E Publishing reports. HR 3826 would strike down EPA’s carbon capture mandate for new power plants; HR 2641 would mandate a 4 1/2-year deadline on NEPA reviews; and HR 2824 would block the Office of Surface Mining from issuing its Steam Protection Rule.
The Department of Energy has issued a final rule defining energy conservation standards for commercial refrigeration equipment, with more stringent standards for some classes. Compliance will be required starting in 2017.
In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, joined a request made by congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) to investigate how the State Department selects outside contractors. Boxer’s letter cited concerns about the procedure used to choose the contractor for the Keystone XL pipeline‘s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.
A judge in Broomfield, Colo., has upheld the results of the city’s November 5 election, which instituted a five-year ban on fracking. The ban passed by just 20 votes, the Boulder Daily Camera reports.
The EPA is making technical and editorial corrections for source testing of emissions and operations, based on comments received. Some current testing provisions contain inaccuracies and outdated procedures, and new alternatives are being added. These revisions will improve the quality of data and will give testers additional flexibility to use the newly approved alternative procedures, the agency says.
The EPA has invited nominations of reviewers for the contractor-managed external peer review of the draft documents entitled, “Health Effects Document for Perfluorooctanoic Acid” and “Health Effects Document for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate.” The EPA has also released the draft health effects documents for public comment.
The DOE has withdrawn a proposed determination that computer servers qualify as a covered product under Part A of Title III of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, reversing its July 2013 tentative determination, in light of public comments. The DOE also released a tentative determination on Friday that computer and battery backup systems qualify as a covered product, superseding its previous proposed determination of coverage relating to computers.
The Department of Energy has extended, to April 14, a comment period on an RFI document regarding whether to amend the current energy conservation standards for residential conventional cooking products.
The California Air Resources Board, in consultation with the Bureau of Automotive Repair, will conduct a series of public workshops March 4-6 to discuss and receive comments on the draft proposal for modifying the state’s voluntary vehicle retirement program for light-duty vehicles.
The California Air Resources Board staff is issuing Low Carbon Fuel Standard Regulatory Advisory 14-01, which provides guidance to regulated parties reporting compressed natural gas (CNG) transactions. Specifically, the guidance addresses the calculation of the number of standard cubic feet included in each transaction.
The California Air Resources Board has issued a Regulatory Advisory that it says will provide relief from Phase 1 enhanced vapor recovery requirements for many above-ground storage tanks.
Energy Manager News
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