Policy & Enforcement Briefing: BP’s Latest Spill, Rare Earths, NESHAP
The EPA is investigating possible violations of the Clean Water Act following BP’s crude oil spill into Lake Michigan from its Whiting, Ind., refinery. BP today more than doubled its estimate of the maximum amount spilled, to 39 barrels, or 1,638 gallons. The EPA said the spill likely poses no long-term risk to the lake, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A World Trade Organization panel found that China’s taxes, quotas and bureaucratic delays on export of rare earth elements and other metals broke international trade law. The judgement raises the possibility that Beijing will face sanctions from the US, which brought the case, as well as the EU and Japan, the New York Times reported.
President Obama has given his first full-length interview solely on the topic of climate change, to the Showtime documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, executive produced by James Cameron. The show premieres April 13, Mashable says.
The EPA has finalized the residual risk and technology review conducted for nine source categories regulated under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutant Emissions: Group IV Polymers and Resins; Pesticide Active Ingredient Production; and Polyether Polyols Production. The revisions to the final rules maintain the level of environmental protection or emissions control on sources regulated by these rules, the agency says.
The Federal Trade Commission is proposing changes to its Fuel Rating Rule, which determines the fuel rating that appears on fuel pump labels, how octane levels are calculated, and helps to inform consumers about proper fuel for their vehicles. The FTC is proposing to revise rating, certification and labeling requirements for blends of gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol, and introduce a new octane rating method that the agency says would lower compliance costs. Comments are due by June 2.
The Obama administration signaled support for increasing liquefied natural gas exports, in a joint statement with the EU. But the White House did not say whether it supports speeding up the export approval process, The Hill reports.
Argentine Retail Developers will build La Plaza Argentine, a retail center anchored by a Walmart, on the former Kansas City Structural Steel Superfund Site in Kansas City, Kan., the EPA announced. EPA says this re-use was enabled by its partnership with innovative businesses, local governments and the state to use flexible cleanup laws. The EPA conducted cleanup in 1993 to cap soil contaminated by lead and other heavy metals. The developer has enrolled the property in the Environmental Use Controls Program administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, to maintain the cap and protect human health and the environment during construction and into the future.
Conservative Republicans in the House on Wednesday introduced an omnibus job creation bill that also aims to promote domestic energy production by rolling back EPA regulations on the coal industry, green-lighting the Keystone XL pipeline and removing federal barriers to fracking, the Washington Examiner reports.
Democrats in the House and Senate both introduced the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense (GRID) Act, which would expand the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to help address grid emergencies and vulnerabilities in the country’s electric grid, the Hill reports.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 12-10 to approve Rhea Suh’s nomination to oversee fish, wildlife and parks at the Department of the Interior. The nomination now goes to the full Senate, The Hill reports.
Romania plans to limit the amount of renewable energy that large industrial customers must buy this year, Reuters reports. Companies have warned that high energy prices could cause them to cut production, lay off workers and relocate plants.
China plans to move some administrative units, universities, research institutes and healthcare facilities out of Beijing to Baoding, a city of 11 million people 100 miles southwest of the capital, to ease Beijing’s pollution burden, Reuters reports.
The Dallas City Council has voted to require grocery stores and other retailers to charge customers five cents for every paper and plastic bag, starting January 1, WFAA reports. The law also bans bags at city properties and events.
American Lifan Industry, Inc., an Ontario, California-based vehicle and engine importer, will pay $630,000 in civil penalties after illegally importing and selling nearly 28,000 highway motorcycles, recreational vehicles, and engines, manufactured in China, that did not comply with Clean Air Act standards to limit harmful pollution, the EPA said. The company will also post a $300,000-$500,000 bond to satisfy any future potential penalties related to importation of model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 vehicles manufactured by China Lifan Industry (Group) Co., Ltd or affiliated companies. This is the first time that the EPA has secured such a bond in a Clean Air Act settlement.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted 4-0 yesterday to direct Xcel Energy to negotiate a power purchase agreement with Geronimo Energy for 20 to 25 solar power arrays around the state, totaling 100 MW. The solar project is expected to cost about $250 million, the St. Cloud Times reports. The PUC also directed Xcel to negotiate PPAs for at least one of three proposed natural gas projects.
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