Policy & Enforcement Briefing: EPA Budget, Bottle Ban, Chevron Win
President Obama’s 2015 budget proposal calls for more investment in natural gas research and fossil fuel development, including what energy secretary Ernest Moniz called the administration’s first moves to demonstrate carbon capture technology for natural gas systems, The Hill reports. The budget also includes Obama’s $1 billion fund to help communities adapt to extreme weather.
President Obama’s proposed FY 2015 EPA budget of $7.890 billion is $309.9 million below the agency’s enacted level for FY 2014. But the budget would increase funding and personnel for new climate regulations, allocating more than $1 billion for its Climate Change and Air Quality program, a $41 million increase over FY14. The budget would shift two dozen employees over to tackle climate change, and raise spending on chemical regulation development by $13 million, The Hill reports.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to begin phasing out the sale and distribution of single-use plastic water bottles on city owned or leased land in October, and to ban the use of city funds for water bottle purchases. The ordinance needs approval on a second reading next week, and a signature from mayor Ed Lee, Reuters reports.
US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled that the two-decade-long legal effort to hold Chevron responsible for pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon was marred by fraud and corruption. The judgment was a major victory and makes it more likely that the oil company will ultimately defeat the suit, the New York Times says.
The Los Angeles City Council has taken steps towards a ban on hydraulic fracturing, agreeing to draft rules to prohibit “well stimulation” until state and federal governments can adopt adequate environmental protections, the Los Angeles Times reports.
A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that BP must abide by its agreement and pay some Gulf of Mexico companies for economic damage without the businesses having to prove that losses are attributable to BP’s 2010 oil spill. The oil company says it is considering its appeal options, the New York Times reports.
Further proceedings on the Better Buildings Act of 2013 have been postponed in the House. Among other provisions, the bill would require the EPA to develop a voluntary Tenant Star program, within Energy Star, to recognize tenants in commercial buildings that voluntarily achieve high levels of energy efficiency in separate spaces.
HR 4076, the HHEATT Act of 2014, passed the House on a voice vote. The bill seeks to address shortages and interruptions in the availability of propane and other home heating fuels.
The House agreed by voice vote to the North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013. The bill withdraws federally owned land or interest in land within the North Fork Lands Withdrawal Area in Montana from all forms of location, entry, and patent under mining laws; and from disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing.
The State Department’s environmental analysis of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline severely underestimated carbon emissions, according to a report by the British environmental group Carbon Tracker Initiative, The Hill reports.
Companies will spend about $1.7 million on restoration and monitoring activities, and $130,800 in civil penalties, after EPA Region 4 cited 23 organizations for depositing dredged and fill material into wetlands or other federal waters in violation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, from October 2012 to September 2013. The companies include Florida Properties III, Northwest Florida Holdings, Peace River Properties Investment, Community Bank of Pickens County, Millrock Farms, Camden USA, Montgomery Group, Hardin County Developers, Hancock County Land, Southwood Developers, and CKC.
Green infrastructure can be a cost effective solution to controlling stormwater while providing numerous economic benefits, an EPA report found. In a case study, the city of Lancaster, Pa., instituted a green infrastructure plan that will reduce gray infrastructure capital costs by an estimated $121.7 million and reduce wastewater pumping and treatment costs by $661,000 per year. It will also provide about $2.8 million in energy, air quality, and climate-related benefits annually, the EPA said.
The EPA’s new fuel standard requiring the use of ultra-low sulfur fuels in ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the North American Emission Control Area will crowd roads and increase onshore air pollution, executives from CSL Group and Eagle Rock Aggregates have argued.
CFMOTO Powersports, Inc., (a successor to CFMOTO America, Inc.) based in Plymouth, Minn., and Zhejiang CFMOTO Power, and Chunfeng Holding Group, both based in China, will pay a combined civil penalty of $725,000 and have agreed to recall and replace fuel tanks in about 1,000 vehicles after the EPA found they imported over 12,000 recreational vehicles and highway motorcycles without the required emissions certification. Of the 12,000, EPA found that 993 vehicles had fuel tanks that did not operate properly to control evaporative emissions.
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