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Policy & Regulatory Briefing: Smog Rule Delay, BPA Testing, Calif. Renewables

EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said Tuesday that the agency will not finalize the Clean Air Act health standard for ground level ozone, or smog, by the July 29 deadline as intended. The proposed rule, which has been delayed on three other occasions, currently is being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget. Industry groups representing factories and energy producers that emit nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds have said the rule would be too costly, a Reuters article says.

The EPA is seeking public comment by Sept. 26 on its plan to test BPA’s toxicity and conduct environmental sampling. The agency also is coordinating research on the chemical, which is used in food can liners, hard polycarbonate plastics, epoxy paints and coatings and thermal papers, with the Food and Drug Administration. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking and supporting information can be found in docket number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2010-0812 on the federal eRulemaking Portal.

Efforts to amend the North American-Made Energy Security Act with warnings of its environmental impacts failed in the House on Tuesday, according to the Hill. Two of the proposed amendments said that the Keystone XL pipeline project could cause possible damage to the environment, in the form of an oil spill or additional carbon dioxide pollution, as it moves Canadian oil through the United States to the Gulf Coast.

House Appropriations Committee members will consider a 2012 spending bill today that would eliminate funding for the State Department’s Clean Technology Fund and the Strategic Climate Fund, which help poor nations fight climate change, the Hill said. The bill also bars funding for the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

California governor Jerry Brown called energy experts on Monday to help him develop a roadmap for the state’s renewable energy portfolio, the Los Angeles Times said. Brown’s plan involves distributed generation, which includes power from urban rooftops and backyards as well as solar and wind installations.

The New York Times reported that automakers and the Obama administration may be closer to an agreement on fuel economy standards, saying that some automakers may support a 54.5 mpg rule that has a slower implementation timeline for light trucks. The administration originally proposed a 56.2 mpg goal by 2025.

The Department of Energy has approved the Big Sky Sequestration Project, an $85 million demonstration of whether carbon dioxide emissions can be stored in underground rock formations in Montana, a Reuters article says. Montana State University will coordinate the eight-year pilot project.

Today, New Zealand minister of climate change negotiations Tim Groser told Reuters that an international agreement to follow the Kyoto Protocol will not be reached before the original pact expires next year. He added that negotiations will continue as will established carbon trading schemes.

An inspection of the Trivestco Energy Company facilities in Oklahoma found violations of the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure regulations and resulted in a $4,850 fine, the EPA said. The agency said the company did not implement proper containment structures and equipment or make inspection records available, but all identified deficiencies have now been corrected.

And finally, a judge gave an environmental activist who posed as a drilling rights bidder a two-year sentence and a $10,000 fine, according to Reuters. Tom DeChristopher represented himself as a bidder in a December 2008 U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease auction and in March was found guilty of fraud and in violation of the U.S. Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act.

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