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Policy & Regulations Briefing: House Passes Water Bill, Plastic’s Future, Natgas Rules

The House on Wednesday passed H.R. 2018, siding with states and their ability to set clean water standards, despite a veto threat from the Obama administration, Bloomberg News said.

Today, the Interior Department’s Michael Bromwich told the House Natural Resources Committee, which is investigating the regulatory overhaul of offshore drilling, that BP is voluntarily adopting safety standards that may be adapted to regulations being considered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.  The bureau is planning to revise safety rules and include contractors in the regulations, according to the Hill.

A subpoena requesting the Office of Management and Budget’s actual documents related to a $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra may go out today, according to a report in the Washington Post. The House Energy and Commerce committee on Thursday voted to use the subpoena to force the agency to hand over related e-mails and documents.

The European Commission’s briefing on the future of environmentally friendly plastic offers policy options that help to maximize benefits and minimize risks, the PRW.com said. Although bioplastics are on the market, they are rarely used in the EU, the article says, noting that debate continues over the material’s degradation and life cycle impacts.

A unanimous California Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Manhattan Beach can ban plastic bags. An industry coalition had sued the city over the ban, saying that impacts from increased paper bag use would outweigh the ban’s environmental benefits.

The UK government has published its Renewables Roadmap, which focuses on such technologies as heat pumps, biomass, and wind to reach its 15 per cent renewable energy goal by 2020. According to Energy Efficiency News, the government promised up to £30 million over the next four years for technology development that will make offshore wind power more efficient and less costly.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill on Wednesday that will enable Leucadia National Cop. to build a $3 billion coal-to-synthetic natural gas plant in Chicago. A Chicago Tribune article says the law requires the state’s four gas utilities to purchase the gas and ensures that residential customers’ bills don’t increase more than 2 per cent per year.

The National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative launched this week aims to accelerate the export of the longtime Texas practice of injecting carbon dioxide underground to recover oil. The process traps carbon dioxide. The initiative, backed by more than 30 leaders from states, the energy sector and environmental groups, plans to recommend how the process can increase oil recovery in 2012.

The New Mexico Environment Department has forged an agreement between the dairy industry and environmental groups on new rules to stave groundwater contamination, according to New Mexico Business Weekly. The pact requires all dairies to install monitoring wells. New dairy facilities and leaking impoundments must put in place synthetic liners.

Environmentalists said New York’s proposed hydraulic fracturing rule revision is more protective of its water supply but falls short for buffer zone mapping considerations, the New York Times said. A industry stakeholder noted that the rule requires drilling sites to comply with local zoning laws, which could be changed to prohibit drilling.

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